Doing it PNG style: the answer for Australian politics
This article was originally posted on The Drum.
When Australian political parties are looking to innovate they invariably turn to Britain and the Americans for guidance or precedent.
This week Prime Minister Gillard was performing that complicated manoeuvre – the Westminster reshuffle - in an apparent attempt to stave off a leadership challenge from Kevin Rudd. But rather than undertaking this complex and dangerous British move she should have been guided by our neighbours to the immediate north.
In Papua New Guinea the problem of two contenders for the leadership has been solved in a much more accommodating manner - just create two of everything - two prime ministers, two cabinets, two governors general and so forth.
It's the perfect solution to our leadership woes. In a gesture of cooperation Julia should call on Kevin to be sworn in as "The Other Prime Minister" by "The Other Governor-General" of his choice.
The Gillard Labor Government can hold office in the southern capital of Altona from Monday to Wednesday allowing the northern Rudd ALP administration to govern in Brisbane from Thursday to Saturday.
In a groundbreaking act of reconciliation, Sundays would see the two jointly ruling the country from the more relaxed environs of Kirribilli House. How much fun would that be for everyone - Kev and Therese, Tim and Julia? While Kevin's off at church Julia can enjoy a lazy breakfast in bed by Sydney Harbour. It could be a saucy spinoff from that great ABC comedy At Home With Julia - replete with cameos from our favourite sidekicks Wayne Swan and Bill Shorten.
And the great unifying development for the entire nation - the two new governments will completely block out any noise from that annoying Tony Abbott. Does it get any better than that?
Parliament will see everyone sitting on the Treasury benches - with Speaker Jenkins reprised for Ruddays. On Gillardays Peter Slipper - the Solomon of his age - will reveal the depths of his hitherto untapped wisdom as he keeps the unruly Ruddistas under control.
Even better, the sidelined Tony Abbott will be forced to contend with the new system by replicating these arrangements in the Coalition. If he wants to be really entertaining he might create a second "just for fun" Opposition led by Barnaby Joyce. Wouldn't that be a hoot.
The other huge advantage is that the entire Labor/ALP caucus will be accommodated in the two ministries, thus avoiding any suggestion of favouritism while rewarding the ambitions of even the most modestly talented.
Meanwhile the Abbott and Joyce-led oppositions can borrow from that other PNG institution - the cargo cult. What better way to fill the $70 billion hole in their costings than to simply build a bank over at Liberal Party HQ and wait for it to be filled with money. Hang on, they already do that – it's called the fundraising dinner.
It's all so easy when you think about it.
Then again maybe it's time we all took a break...