Most would be prime ministers, even when they are not confident of winning the office, spare a thought or two about what sort of government they would like to run. They might not admit it when in campaign mode but somewhere behind the scenes a leader will have a trusted ally working out a new administrative arrangements order to reshuffle ministries and departments to suit their prejudices. Sometimes it will be a parliamentary colleague — Gareth Evans I remember used to love the task — and sometimes a staff member. And when the campaigning is over the plans are ready for the prime ministerial stamp of approval after a little fine tuning.
Not so in the case of Julia Gillard it would appear. Her re-arrangements of the order of government have been anything but smooth, with changes still being made days after the announcement of a new ministry. Some of the elementary mistakes like ignoring women’s affairs in the initial statement, neglecting to mention tertiary education after destroying an education department and neglecting indigenous health which is supposed to be a high priority area smack of very poor staff work indeed.
Hopefully the prime minister will now realise that the complexities of running a country need a different kind of staff than those of a successful deputy prime minister.