The tacticians of the Liberal Party might be stressing the importance of the Government team but Prime Minister John Howard is leaving no one in any doubt about who is the captain. That was wonderfully illustrated yesterday when the annual, and quite routine, announcement was made about the 2008 National Health and Medical Research grants.

Normally the distribution of this largesse to universities and research organizations is left to the Federal Health Minister as it was last year.

But no guernsey for Tony Abbott this year. In the great spirit of playing for the team, the news of grants worth $560 million for health and medical research to more than 50 universities and research institutes was released by the Prime Minister himself.

So much for the strategy of not making this a presidential style election where everything is concentrated around the leader.

Every possible bit of good news, it seems, is going to be delivered by El Presidente Howard. Tony Abbott yesterday was relegated to being a background image at a so-called joint press conference with the PM delivered for the television cameras at the Camperdown Heart Research Institute in Sydney.

There was not much of a team effort when it came to announcing new drought relief matters either. The PM hogged the limelight, this time with Nationals Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile as the supporting image, while the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran, did not make the pictures at all.