Rob Oakeshott sees safety in his bold model for consensus politics - but others will see naivety.
Parliamentary reform is one thing, and much needed - the way the House of Representatives' question time operated in the last term was a disgrace. And it is true that in South Australia a National sat in the Rann cabinet (until she was defeated at the recent election), and there are a couple of Greens on the Tasmanian Labor frontbench.
But to float, even as a ''cheeky'' example of the way he'd like to see things federally, the idea of Kevin Rudd being Tony Abbott's foreign minister, or Malcolm Turnbull sitting cheek by jowl with Wayne Swan in a Gillard cabinet - well, Oakeshott is either a joker or an idealist.
Independents holding the balance of power can approach negotiations with a wish list of tangible demands (help for the banana industry, better regional transport, efficient broadband) or they can try to change some features of the political system.
The country trio will be pushing on both fronts, although right now they are emphasising process, stability and reform. But Oakeshott's proposals go way beyond ordinary change.
He is trying to address the problem that even when the three cast their lot (or separate lots), the numbers would be so finely balanced that the situation would be inherently unstable - a byelection away from deadlock. So, he says, it would be better for the winning side to have a bigger majority.
Well, yes. But in practical terms, Labor or Coalition MPs are not likely to be joining the other side. We are not in a war situation where one might have a ''national'' government.
Nor are politicians going to take off their adversarial clothes to suddenly adopt a genuinely consensus model. Such an approach sounds good in theory, but it goes against their grain. And, anyway, there are questions about it even in theory. Oakeshott points to the common policies that Labor and Coalition have, seeing this as a basis for more co-operation. But weren't people lamenting that we did not have enough ''choice'' at the election? Sometimes conflict can be good - challenging and testing ideas.
It's all a matter of degree, of course. The public has become impatient with spin politics. Injecting some co-operation, good behaviour, and greater power for ordinary MPs would be a good outcome in resolving this deadlock. But expecting to totally rework the party system, let alone have those ''friends'', Gillard and Abbott lock in some political embrace, is unrealistic, and not even as desirable as it might sound.
Michelle Grattan is Age political editor.