ANALYSIS

Here we go again. The main election is out of the way but Labor has just fired the starter's gun on a whole new one.

Sure, Labor's first ballot of rank-and-file members to elect the leader involves tens of thousands of party faithful, not millions of voters. And, despite the prospect of public debates between contenders Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese and trips around Australia to shore up support, this contest will not be as high profile. The candidates seem to agree on most policy issues.

Fans of the reforms hope the ballot will energise members and show the party is open to ideas and inclusive. At worst, it threatens to highlight continuing divisions soon after voters punished Labor for its leadership dramas.

The level of media focus on the opposition is a bit odd, as a new government has just swept into office, bringing with it the prospect of wide-ranging policy and personnel changes.

The news vacuum is largely the result of incoming prime minister Tony Abbott's attempt to present a picture of a calm, ''methodical'' government - going about things in a measured, almost boring manner. He has not even been sworn in yet.

It is not unusual for new prime ministers to wait more than a week to be sworn in after a change of government.

If Abbott and his cabinet are sworn in this Tuesday, as expected, it will be 10 days after the election victory. This compares with nine days after Kevin Rudd's election victory in 2007, nine days after John Howard defeated Paul Keating's government in 1996 and six days after Bob Hawke ousted Malcolm Fraser's team in 1983.

The 1975 election aftermath is not comparable because Fraser had already been sworn in as caretaker prime minister after the governor-general dismissed Gough Whitlam.

In 1972, Whitlam waited all of three days to swear himself and deputy Lance Barnard into office, dividing 27 portfolios between them until the full cabinet could be appointed weeks later.