Kevin Rudd’s first task will be to work out a way of controlling his deputy. The dream team was a necessary alliance to get the opposition leader’s job. Managing Julia Gillard will be necessary to graduate to prime minister.

There is a very good reason that Australian election campaigns have become more presidential in style. By concentrating all the attention on the leader you avoid showing differences of opinion within the party. Differences of opinion suggest disunity and disunity costs votes. A deputy prepared to loyally support the master is a necessary first step.  

It is why Gough Whitlam chose the almost shy and retiring Lance Barnard as his deputy, Bill Hayden and Bob Hawke were very happy with Lionel Bowen and Kim Beazley was happy with Jenny Macklin.

Kevin Rudd will not have this luxury of an essentially silent deputy without further personal ambition. He owes the resounding nature of this morning’s Caucus victory largely to contesting the election as the senior member of a two person team.

Ms Gillard now has an authority in her own right and the Government an excellent opportunity to play divide and conquer in the 12 months until the next election.

For John Howard the two heads will certainly be better than one. Call it double trouble as the PM and his campaign team analyse and distort every Gillard utterance on every policy.

It will be essential that Rudd finds a job for Gillard where she is so busy developing and selling a major policy that she has no time to blunder off in to other areas.

Please don’t let it be the Treasury. That is an area where Rudd himself must quickly show an understanding and he will not need the complication of coordinating things with an outspoken deputy.

I would be getting rid of Wayne Swan, because punishment is allowable immediately after a victory, and replacing him with someone who will do a safe and solid job without stealing the limelight.

Bob McMullan, who Beazley foolishly allowed the factional bosses to sideline because he is not aligned with any of them, would be the perfect person to return to that job.

For Rudd, who must quickly show that he is capable of providing leadership in areas other than foreign policy, Gillard might be the perfect foreign affairs replacement.

Spending a lot of time on overseas study tours would reduce the time available to mess things up at home.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey