With election date speculation now officially rife, speculation is now also beginning to mount about what any future hypothetical Gillard Government’s front bench would look like, should it win the election. In part to stave off concerns about instability at the top and in part to distance herself from Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister has declined to instigate a major reshuffle since becoming leader and has also declined to nominate who would serve in which ministerial role if Federal Labor is re-elected later this year.
The situation is complicated by the former Prime Minister’s obvious predilection for a high-profile foreign affairs role:
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd is reportedly determined to take on the foreign affairs role, if Labor is returned.
He has been telling journalists that as a former prime minister “he deserves the job”, ABC Television reported on Sunday.
While I can understand Julia Gillard’s decision not to “rock the boat” before the election, I also see a number of drawbacks to this approach. If Gillard were to take her new, finalised team to the hustings and subsequently win the election, her team would have received a proper imprimateur from the public to govern the country, and would inherit a certain significant amount of public good will as a result. Under the assumption that the team of Ministers that Federal Labor currently has in place is set to be scrambled and subjected to fairly thorough recomposition post-election, I think that people are right to feel a little uneasy. Do we know who the Gillard Government’s Minister for Foreign Affairs will be after the election? No. Do we know who the Gillard Government’s Finance Minister will be after the election, with the resignation of the wonderful Lindsay Tanner? No.
It is almost certain that the Coalition will exploit this sense of uncertainty with respect to Federal Labor’s team in the lead-up to the election. One may well not like Tony Abbott’s team, but at least one can be fairly certain of what Tony Abbott’s team will look like if elected. I am not sure that the general public is particularly enamoured with the idea that the archaic factional engines responsible for turfing out the old Prime Minister will also be responsible for deciding who will govern the country – not them.