ANTHONY Albanese’s bizarre decision to imitate Gough Whitlam if he happens to win the election on Saturday may have to be ‘clarified’ today. As told to The Australian’s Troy Bramston yesterday, the Labor Leader says that only he and prospective foreign minister Penny Wong will be sworn in Sunday, allowing both to leave Australia forthwith to attend next week’s Quad meeting in Tokyo. This evokes the infamous duumvirate that began the manic chaos of the Whitlam era. In 1972, too impatient to wait for the conclusion of election formalities, Whitlam and his deputy Lance Barnard shared 27 portfolios between them from 5 to 19 December.
Two obvious problems: first, there is no guarantee a result will be known on Sunday or sufficiently clear and definitive to warrant the assumption of office. Second, if the only two sworn ministers of an Albanese government are abroad, nobody would be in charge of the country. Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles must also be commissioned. Paul Kelly – whose lived experience of these transitions is unmatched – today describes Albanese’s plan as flawed, unwise, an embarrassment, absurd, crazy, presumptuous and arrogant. By Monday, the Acting PM will be Scott Morrison, Mr Marles or nobody in particular. Long may the last-named reign.