I think claims that MPs such as Shorten won’t take the Prime Ministership if available are wildly misplaced. He can never be sure an opportunity will ever be presented again, and Labor could be in opposition for a very long time. Apart from Tony Abbott, very few opposition leaders manage to last long.
So why wouldn’t he take the opportunity if presented? After all, even if Labor loses the election, he stands to benefit in many ways:
- an office and staff for the rest of his life
- Comcar facilities for the rest of his life
- Gold card travel for the rest of his life with a much higher entitlement than retired ministers
- higher superannuation for the rest of his life
- being a member of that exclusive club of former prime ministers (invitations to all sorts of events etc).
Even one day as prime minister gives these benefits.
I could understand Rudd being reluctant to take the position back if he waits too long as he already has achieved the above benefits and can leave with the impression that he could have saved Labor from the defeat (and who could prove otherwise?).
But for Shorten, Combet and the other names, there is only upside to taking the job.