Malcolm Turnbull will now need to make a ‘captain’s call’ on Kevin Rudd’s nomination to lead the United Nations (UN), after the PM opened the floor to his ministers on Mr Rudd’s suitability for the top job.
After a lengthy meeting in Canberra yesterday, the Cabinet was clearly divided and has left the final decision to the PM.
It is understood that, so far, Mr Turnbull offered no opinion on the matter, stating at a press conference that “we’ve considered this issue and I owe Mr Rudd a telephone call before I say anything more about it publicly”.
Mr Rudd has some competition for the role, with former New Zealand PM Helen Clarke also vying for the secretary general role. But she may be the least of the former Australian PM’s concerns, as rumblings emerge from Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison, Eric Abetz and other conservative ministers, opposing Mr Rudd’s appointment.
Mr Rudd seems to have an ally in Julia Bishop, who has proposed nominating Mr Rudd without endorsement. However, the PM has indicated that a nomination would equate to support for Mr Rudd.
Even Mr Rudd’s own former colleagues have expressed some concerns about his suitability for the UN job, with Mr Dutton claiming that his former co-workers were “very publicly boisterous” in their criticism of Mr Rudd during his reign as PM.
Tanya Plibersek disagrees. “I don’t think I can imagine anyone that is better qualified for this job than Kevin Rudd,” she says.
“I don’t doubt that he should receive the full support of the Australian Government and, frankly, I am mystified that there would even be a proposition that the Australian Government is not backing the Australian candidate for such a distinguished position.
“If the cabinet today decides not to offer its endorsement to Kevin Rudd, it will show that the petty small-minded right wing of the Liberal party have Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop on a short leash.”
Ms Plibersek also credited Mr Rudd for performing well in his role as PM and foreign minister, as well as his expert knowledge of China.
But outspoken conservative backbencher Eric Abetz has his doubts.
“Any cursory glance at Mr Rudd’s temperament and capacity would show Mr Rudd is poorly qualified for this role and if Australia were to inflict Kevin Rudd on the United Nations it would be a mistake,” said Mr Abetz.
Mr Rudd will need to be nominated if he is to be successful in his bid for the job. Mr Turnbull is expected to speak with Mr Rudd before the PM makes his final decision on the matter tomorrow morning.
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Do you think Kevin Rudd is suitable for the role? What reservations would you have about him leading the UN? Is he the best candidate? Who else would you suggest?