Veteran Labor headkicker Rob Hulls will sit down with Narre Warren North MP Luke Donnellan today to discuss the position of deputy leader under a Daniel Andrews-led Victorian opposition.

Despite several media reports this morning floating other scenarios, senior sources from the duo’s Labor Unity faction confirmed to Crikey that the transition would proceed smoothly with cordial talks between the two main contenders. However, if Hulls decides to run, there is little doubt he will have widespread support.

“They’re mates, they’ll talk about it directly…but we’ve got to get on our feet as quickly as possible,” the source said, with the question of the best lieutenant for Andrews likely to be finalised today before being rubber stamped by caucus on Friday.

“Both are considered completely acceptable by Labor Unity and there’s no tension.”

There is a suggestion that Donnellan may need to prove his mettle in the shadow ministry before ascending to the deputy’s role, which would leave Hulls, who was formerly attorney general and deputy premier, to continue on as Labor’s key attack dog. That would then open up the option for Hulls to step aside for Donnellan in a Collingwood-style deputy leadership transition well before 2014.

In other pockets there is a view that both positions were a poisoned chalice and that Labor should be factoring in a loss at the next election, by which time Andrews and Donnellan would have outstayed their welcome. Tim Holding is said to have recoiled at the thought of leading the opposition after informal approaches were made following Saturday’s defeat for precisely this reason. He will instead bide his time in the party’s leadership transit lounge as shadow Treasurer, where Kim Wells will presumably make for an easy adversary.

“This is like pass the parcel at the al-Qaeda Christmas party…that’s if al-Qaeda even celebrates Christmas,” the senior ALP source said. “There’s basically a group of several quite talented individuals currently working out who doesn’t want it the least.”

Indeed, there is a view that Donnellan would do better to focus on sandbagging his own electorate with his campaign manager reportedly remarking that “…it’s like Omaha Beach out here,” as the tide turned against Labor on Saturday afternoon. Donnellan held on to Narre Warren North, despite suffering a 6.3% swing against him and a number of setbacks including a bitter dispute over the building of a new high school.

“Luke would probably be better advised to focusing on being a local MP for a year or two,” one source said.

But the overwhelming theme is one of peace, with hostilities so chastened that at one point there was an outside chance Bendigo East MP Jacinta Allan could be backed into the deputy role by sections of the right, despite that arrangement leaving the Socialist Left with the opposition’s two most prominent leadership positions.

As Crikey revealed on Monday, the SL was in a strengthened position inside caucus to back Andrews’ claims on the leadership after it lost just one MP on Saturday. By contrast, both Labor Unity and Holding’s NUW/SDA faction both suffered heavy losses.

Despite some satisfaction in Left circles, Saturday’s result has refocused the right’s attention on its divided status, with one peacemaker reporting that the “language change had been extraordinary” and that the state branch was now bracing for a “monumental sh-tfight”. At issue is a battle over the narrative, with insurgents keen to paint the campaign as a strategic disaster while others parrot John Brumby’s line that the party had done nothing wrong and it was the punters who failed to see the light.

“If the narrative is that it was a good government that got it wrong, the state office survives intact but if a consensus emerges that it was a horrible campaign, then they’ll be a purge of huge proportions,” one source said.

Under an agreement struck in 2009, State Secretary Nick Reece will make way for his deputy Noah Carroll early next year, however the impressive Carroll, in turn, is expected to then snag preselection for the 2013 federal poll, leaving the top job vacant in the lead-up to 2014.

A reunited Right could lock the Socialist Left out of preselections and effectively cede control of Labor’s main administrative positions to federal powerbrokers Bill Shorten and David Feeney.

Meanwhile, disenchanted Labor staffers are still mourning the weekend’s loss, with many out of a job and their Blackberries and swipe cards turned over to the public service. The number of fresh vacancies under a shadow ministry is said to be limited, with many casting their gaze elsewhere, including to the media and the non-government sector. In the grim tradition of the scorched-earth policy pursued by Jeff Kennett in the wake of 1992, the opposition is expected to purge the upper reaches of the public service of any Labor influence.

The shout-out for Liberal media advisers is now on in earnest with a lure of salaries well in excess of $100,000.