Whoever secures an extremely fragile minority government in the coming days will have an incentive to perform sensibly for a few months and then dash to an early election once the polls improve.

For Prime Minister Tony Abbott that would probably only take a few weeks given the bad blood that would be unleashed if the Rudd-Gillard government ended up in office for less time than Gough Whitlam.

Acting out of self-interest, the three rural independents are pushing for both sides to commit to a full three-year term to preserve their power and time in the sun.

Neither of these scenarios are satisfactory and there is a middle ground that ought to be pursued.

For starters, the country needs to sample what life will be like with a hard-left party exclusively holding the balance of power in the Senate. The Greens don’t take over until July 1 next year.

We’ve also just experienced the largest state government impact on a federal election since Labor lost nine seats in Victoria at the 1990 federal election thanks to the faltering Cain Labor government.

The people of Queensland and NSW should be allowed to unleash their anger at state Labor governments before being asked to reflect again on who should run the country.

Prime ministers and premiers have traditionally worked hard to avoid having over-lapping election campaigns and the Victorian poll on November 27 is only 88 days away.

We then have a NSW election on March 26 next year.

After that, there is a 12-month gap until the latest possible Queensland state election. However, Anna Bligh is not locked into a fixed three-year after first being popularly elected as Queensland Premier on March 21, 2009.

Easter Sunday falls on April 8 in 2012, so the nation should know who is governing Australia three most populous states by the end of March 2012.

Surely that would mark an appropriate time for the federal parliament to consider whether minority government is working.

If a CEO or a management company has done a lousy job over its initial three-year contract, a board would normally shy away from giving them another three-year commitment.

How much is the Essendon Football Club regretting extending the three-year contract of new coach Matthew Knights by only two extra years last year.

Given Labor’s lacklustre performance and widespread concerns about Tony Abbott, why should either side secure a three-year deal?

The nation is thoroughly sick of election campaigning and don’t deserve to foot the bill for another $100 million-plus taxpayer-funded extravaganza to resolve the deadlock. At least, not in the short term.

But given three years is a long time, why on earth should Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott sign away their rights to call an early election if it proves impossible to deliver stable and effective government?

This is a situation where the two major parties should get together and make the following offer to each other, the Greens and the independents:

Supply will be guaranteed for the 2011-12 Budget to be debated and approved in May next year.

No major party will move or support a no confidence motion in the government before April 30, 2012.

After that, all bets are off, but the one caveat should be that any early election is a double dissolution. This would provide an extra check on the six Green senators who have just been elected and wouldn’t fancy going back to the polls less than a year into their six-year terms. Similarly, if an opposition was deemed to have recklessly brought down a government, it would risk seeing a re-elected government secure control of both houses.

In effect, such an agreement would guarantee at least 18 months of minority government, by which time all of the governance and parliamentary reforms to clean up politics should be bedded down.

Then we could have a federal election that wasn’t polluted by state government issues and it would feature a cleaned up system of political donations, truth in advertising, campaign debates and campaign costings.

The public would also have a much better feel for Gillard and Abbott in their respective positions, plus it would have real experience of the Greens with balance of power in the Senate.

Rob, Tony, Andrew, Adam and Bob. How about it?