Kevin Rudd’s overtures to the UN since he was deposed as PM come as no surprise.
JUST how committed former prime minister Kevin Rudd was to having Australia’s top job remains a mystery.
Increasing numbers of observers are coming to view his prime ministership as having simply been a stepping stone to what he really wanted – a big-paying job at the United Nations.
State Scene highlights this not only because news has leaked about his negotiating for an on-the-side UN job after the August 21 election, but because some suspected the UN was what he aspired to over virtually his entire prime ministership.
In April 2009, State Scene carried a column headlined, ‘Making friends for the long term’, alluding to this.
“The Rudd government has now held power for 16 months, long enough for some tentative judgements to be made,” it began.
“Only one writer, former Nationals senator, previously Treasury secretary, John Stone, has hinted in print that Kevin Rudd may be treating his prime ministership in what can be called a dual-track manner.
“Mr Stone, in a recent National Observer [spring 2008] article titled, ‘The Future of Mr Kevin Rudd’, wrote: ‘Rumours circulating in Canberra in early 2008 to the effect that Mr Rudd was now bent on becoming the next Secretary-General of the UN were of course just that – rumours. If he did harbour that ambition, it would go far towards explaining much that has been inexplicable in his behaviour’.”
State Scene read that article a year after it was published and concluded it was conceivable Mr Rudd had decided to remain PM for an already predetermined period, like three recent Labor premiers – Queensland’s Peter Beattie, New South Wales’ Bob Carr, and Victoria’s Steve Bracks – and was using that post to lay the basis for a prestigious UN job.
That, after all, was what former New Zealand PM Helen Clark had done by becoming head of the UN’s Development Programme.
If it’s good enough for a Kiwi, why not an ambitious banana bender?
Three weeks after that State Scene column, The Australian’s foreign affairs writer, Greg Sheridan, backed what I’d reported and what Mr Stone suggested in his spring 2008 National Observer article.
Mr Sheridan’s column of May 14 2009, headlined ‘Today the Lodge tomorrow the world’ and sub-headed ‘The PM’s foreign policy may have an ulterior motive: a move from Canberra to New York’, expanded on Mr Rudd’s increasingly suspected global ambitions.
“What is Kevin Rudd planning to do after his stint as prime minister?” Mr Sheridan asked.
“In the past few weeks I’ve heard from three quite credible sources that the PM has given a lot of thought to having a shot at becoming the UN secretary-general.”
Although Mr Sheridan understandably never named his informants, he added: “But take my word for it, each is a source you’d normally give a lot of credibility to.
“Each is in a position to know quite a lot about this sort of subject. “You heard it here first.”
Except for Mr Sheridan’s last line, the rest certainly seemed well founded, despite trailing Mr Stone and thus his sources by a full year.
What this suggests is that Mr Stone, who clearly still has excellent contacts across Canberra’s bureaucratic cobweb and Queensland’s National Party, probably learned of Mr Rudd’s UN ambitions around March 2008, perhaps much earlier.
But even if as late as March 2008, that was only four months into Mr Rudd’s prime ministership.
That’s amazing since it means Mr Stone’s sources had deduced very early that Mr Rudd was really a transient PM.
Mr Rudd was obviously a reluctant prime minister, someone who, as soon as he got the job, was virtually already planning to move on.
Or looked at differently, he may be viewed as an unappreciative individual. It’s as if being Australia’s prime minister wasn’t good enough for Mr Rudd.
He immediately wanted something more, a global job, where he could strut the international stage pontificating about mankind’s alleged toils and tribulations, as he’s shown to be so prone to do and seemingly enjoy.
Mr Sheridan then listed three interesting developments, which appeared to confirm that Mr Rudd’s eyes seemed firmly fixed on a big-paying New York job.
The first of these pointed out that the budget carried an $11 million spending item to “promoting our [Australia’s] candidacy for the UN Security Council term of 2013-14”.
The second was that Mr Rudd, at the height of the global financial crisis and growing unemployment, boosted Australian foreign aid outlays to Africa to a whopping and no doubt politically targeted $165 million.
State Scene would love to know the fate of all that taxpayer money.
“But the most intriguing is that we are spending $9.2 million during the next two years to promote nuclear disarmament,” Mr Sheridan continued.
“A good deal of that will be spent on the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, which Rudd set up last year.
“In budgetary terms this is all piddling money, but in terms of advancing a political, or indeed, personal agenda such sums can be quite effective.
“I think it’s clear that the only possible career move that makes sense from the Lodge is to UN headquarters on New York’s East River.”
When one notes Mr Rudd won the December 2007 election and Mr Stone’s National Observer article appeared in April or May 2008, it’s clear the latter’s sources twigged to Mr Rudd’s international ambitions early on.
In other words, careful Canberra Rudd observers became convinced Australia’s new PM was looking for a UN post well within six months of him becoming PM.
Noting this now certainly casts a new light on Australia’s thankfully brief Rudd era.
Hardly had he become PM in December 2007, and he was out there looking for a job in the Big Apple.
Clearly, the Lodge and Kirribilli House weren’t what Mr Rudd wanted.
Does this not perhaps tell us something about this man’s obsessive grasping at the largely UN-driven campaign to ensure the Western energy consuming economies adopt a costly carbon taxing scheme that would disadvantage them so badly?
Does is not cast some doubt upon Mr Rudd’s commitment to Australia’s most important executive position?
What’s therefore not amazing is that Mr Rudd went to extraordinary lengths to become Labor’s leader.
Not only did he conspire against the predecessor, Kim Beazley, but actually flew to Perth three time to coax former WA premier and long-time Beazley friend and ally, Brian Burke, into throwing his weight behind him.
On this Sydney journalist Pamela Williams, in her first-class expose and analysis of the twists and turns of the Gillard coup, concluded as follows.
“For some, watching Rudd’s final emotional [farewell] speech, the tears were dry,” she wrote.
“The spilled blood of Beazley had not been forgotten.
“Rudd had hawked polls around the party in 2006 to show that he could win an election – and that Beazley couldn’t.
“Rudd had white-anted Beazley with polling, and in the Labor Party memories never die.
“Kevin Rudd – Mr Popularity – had lived by the sword and he had died by the sword.”