IT WAS KNOWN almost a decade ago that Kevin Rudd’s real ambition was to be Secretary-General of the United Nations; this column has never hid its disdain for the UN, believing it obsessed with meddling in member states rather than its charter to maintain peace. Even so, the moronic Rudd — with pointless meetings, unruly temper, and gratuitous travel — is not what the world needs. Any official sanction of his bona fides for the post is lunacy.
Today’s article isn’t so much an opinion piece per se, but a trip down memory lane — with a little help from YouTube — for it amazes me just how short some people’s memories can be, and where Kevin Rudd is concerned, the propensity for time to “heal all” and wipe away the recollections of his defects and shortfalls is a dangerous and salutary lesson in just how easily people are prone to forget.
In the overwhelming majority of cases, I have been at pains over the years to note in this column that political figures of opposing political stripes to my own are still, first and foremost, people; that expression of grace is difficult to concede in certain cases, and near the top of any list of those for whom it is impossible to harbour any concession of the kind sits one Kevin Michael Rudd.
Right from the start, there were those who grasped the fundamentally ridiculous nature of his claim to government in Australia; right from the earliest days of Rudd’s tenure as Prime Minister, the rumours of his eventual grandiose ambition to run the United Nations — providing a global platform on which he might parade the pomposity and histrionic bombast Australian voters quickly wearied of once he had been elected — spread like wildfire.
And right from the start Rudd became, aptly, a figure of ridicule.
Those with short memories will have forgotten how he not just alienated but enraged his Labor colleagues; his temper and ego are the stuff of legend in political circles, and his noxious and destructive approach to matters of governance was such that a large portion of the ALP caucus swore that if he ever returned as Prime Minister once he had been dumped that not only would they refuse to serve in his ministry, but that they would leave Parliament altogether — a threat many of them made good on after June 2013, when he orchestrated the overthrow of Julia Gillard to reclaim what he saw as rightly his.
For those who have, indeed, forgotten, here’s an aggregation of the sentiments of the Labor caucus of the day. It isn’t what you would call edifying.
Who could possibly forget the Rudd decree that climate change was “the greatest moral challenge of our time” or the shameful performance he turned in at Copenhagen late in 2009, as he strove to be the international face of some kind of agreement to deal with this menace, only to fail abysmally? Who can forget the stories of his brutality as a “leader,” abusing his ministers, tearing shreds off young service personnel on RAAF flights, and systematically leaking and backgrounding against his colleagues to undermine them?
Those of us with very long memories recall only too well the mess he created in Queensland — as the state’s top public servant under the government of Wayne Goss — before be entered Parliament, as a vicious crusade was embarked upon to fire not just those senior public servants who owed their positions to National Party cronyism of the 1970s and 1980s, but also to target politically unaligned (or, wisely, silent) individuals whose only crime was not to make vociferous expressions of fidelity with the ALP during the “dark” years of National Party oppression that preceded Goss’ regime.
We also remember the complete consequent mess made of the Queensland public service, with that state’s health bureaucracy rendered dysfunctional, and scores of sacked National Party appointees rehired in their old roles on expensive contracts when the penny dropped that the chosen ALP appointments Rudd oversaw simply weren’t up to the jobs they were given, and that unless those with real experience of running Queensland were brought back into the fold, the disaster Rudd’s “management” of the Queensland government created would in fact have become a cataclysm.
The huge swing to the Coalition at the 1995 state election was, apart from a few seats affected by a toll road Goss wanted to build, almost entirely built on a backlash from public servants: and to this day, I can’t think of another instance anywhere in Australia where public servants have voted en masse and as a solid bloc against a Labor government. It was an achievement of sorts, and one in which Rudd’s handiwork was everywhere.
Now, Kevin Rudd — who once famously described himself as “an out-of-work diplomat” — is showing signs of making a serious attempt to replace outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose term in the post expires late this year.
Perhaps mindful of the fact support from the continuing (Coalition) government may or may not be forthcoming, Rudd is said to be working solus to try to secure the post through his own contacts, and no wonder: who could possibly have forgotten the billions of dollars doled out on Rudd’s watch, over a single weekend in 2009, to buy off various countries in support of his government’s campaign to have Australia elevated to a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council?
Yet disturbingly, there are reports today that Foreign minister Julie Bishop will, in fact, consider providing official backing to any push by Rudd to go to the UN if he formally requests it.
Such support cannot and must not be provided, for the cretin Rudd is something the wider world needs like the pox.
Many, it seems, have forgotten the Rudd brand of diplomacy, brown-nosing to Chinese leaders to their faces and showily refusing audio translation of their speeches to highlight his Chinese language skills, whilst calling them “rat fuckers” behind their backs.
And it beggars belief that the kind of wit and wisdom exhibited toward foreign leaders by Rudd behind the scenes, replete with contempt for his audience and filled with malignant animus, could have ever been overlooked.
We will keep an eye on Rudd as this issue develops: in some respects, it’ll be quite like old times.
But the bottom line is that Kevin Rudd — despite the shortfalls of the United Nations, which are many, and the inappropriate activities it engages in that have nothing to do with preserving military peace whatsoever — is perhaps the most unsuitable candidate on Earth to lead an organisation whose primary purpose is the preservation of order and the maintenance of global peace.
Right now, the world faces increasing instability and growing threats of military conflict: the plunge in relations between Russia and the West to Cold War levels of iciness heads that list, of course, but there are other threats wherever you look. The perennial problem of North Korea and its ongoing development of nuclear weapons capabilities and the accompanying bellicose threat to launch them on the US, South Korea, Japan, and God knows who else. The tinder box that is the Middle East. Russia’s perceived designs on the Baltic states, as well as the ambition to annex other Soviet-era satellites, after its march into the Crimea provoked no consequences of significance. Perpetual tensions between India and Pakistan, or between Israel and all of its neighbours. On and on the list goes. One misstep, at the wrong time and over the wrong issue, could set off a chain reaction.
In this sense, the last thing anyone would characterise as “a resource” to deal with these threats is Kevin Rudd: abusive, egomaniacal and incendiary, Rudd’s penchant for strutting the world stage and lecturing people — to build his own profile, irrespective of whether anything is ever achieved — would simply place another match into the box.
It doesn’t matter that some characterise Ban Ki-moon as ineffective, ineffectual, or lazy; it doesn’t justify putting an insidious and volatile specimen like Rudd in his place when the opportunity to replace him falls due.
Just when you think Rudd has finally gone away, back he comes with a vengeance.
There is obviously a long way to go in this issue, and as it develops, we’ll keep watch, but the final word today goes to another old Liberal Party commercial that dates from just after Tony Abbott replaced Malcolm Turnbull as opposition leader in late 2009.
The Liberals got this right; the reality soon dawned on Rudd’s ALP colleagues; and I think the more time that has passed since then, the more it has dawned on a very large contingent of the same voters who were hoodwinked into electing Rudd in 2007 in the first place.
Let Rudd play his games, and busy himself killing time, by all means: but there is no case for him to become Secretary-General at the UN.
If the government provides Rudd with any kind of endorsement, or support — either openly or behind the scenes — for hit pitch to replace Ban, it will be a very large black mark against the Turnbull government indeed.