Bowen puts up hand for shadow treasurer

Chris Bowen has ruled out standing for the Labor leadership, but has made his case for the shadow treasurer position. AAP/Lukas Coch

Former treasurer Chris Bowen has made a public bid to “shadow” his old job in opposition.

Ruling himself out as a contender for Labor leader, Bowen told a news conference he would be available to the new leader in whichever role they saw fit “including to be shadow treasurer”.

The leadership now waits on outgoing deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese to say whether he wants the job. Bill Shorten, the other option for leader, has indicated that he would seek the post only if he were uncontested.

If Albanese, from NSW and the left, became leader Shorten, from the right and Victoria, would have some claim on the deputyship and shadow treasurer position. An alternative to give both Bowen and Shorten frontline positions would be to have Shorten as deputy leader (a position elected by caucus) and Bowen as shadow treasurer.

If there were a contest for leader, which is not now expected, the party rank and file would have a 50% say, under new rules brought in by Kevin Rudd.

Wayne Swan, who was treasurer for most of the last six years but went to the backbench when Kevin Rudd returned, said he would not seek the leadership.

As post mortems continue, Kevin Rudd’s closest political adviser, Bruce Hawker, said the election result had been “very disappointing”. But “we saved the furniture”. He said he accepted his “fair share” of responsibility for the result. “I’m not going to shy away from it”.

Hawker rejected claims that it had been a shambolic campaign as nonsense. “There was constant liaison between the travelling party and with the campaign headquarters. I think there are some people inside campaign headquarters who really are talking out of school and putting a spin on things in order to avoid taking some responsibility for it. … We should all basically just accept some things went right, some things went wrong”.

Hawker said the senior public servants distancing themselves from Labor’s claim of a $10 billion hole in the Coalition savings was “a really bad problem for us” and blamed the campaign HQ.

“Campaign headquarters put together that research … and so we went out and had that press conference. And it looked pretty good for a while but as soon as those public servants came out and basically distanced themselves from that story and those claims, it became very difficult for us for about three or four days to punch through any message at all.”

But Bowen, who with Rudd and Penny Wong was at the news conference about the hole, defended the exercise. “We made it very clear in that press conference that these were costings commissioned by us before going into caretaker period.” He said he had made it clear that different assumptions could change particular figures.

Victorian Labor MP Kelvin Thomson condemned the notion of leader as messiah. “The idea that everything is about a party leader, a messiah, leads to poor decision-making with only a handful of people being involved.” Presidential campaigning was “a bad idea”, he said.

“The whole idea of the leader as a messiah making all the decisions is fundamentally undemocratic. Ordinary Australians, ordinary members of political parties do have access to people like me and my parliamentary colleagues - they don’t have access to prime ministers and premiers.”

Prime minister-elect Tony Abbott said the new government had to “work purposefully, methodically, calmly, and conscientiously” towards implementing the Coalition’s election commitments.

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