Flat White

Why does the media still bother with Kevin Rudd?

14 August 2017

2:52 PM

14 August 2017

2:52 PM

The Rudd/Gillard Governments were a disaster for Australia. They turned a budget surplus into an entrenched budget deficit which we are still dealing with. Not only did they waste taxpayers’ funds on ill-fated schemes such as the home insulation debacle and building the education revolution but they locked in future expenditure such as Gonski education funding and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. There was also the dismantling of Australia’s successful border protection policies and the crippling carbon tax. The list of blunders could be nearly endless.

Once they were voted out in 2013 we hoped that would be the end of them and they would quietly retreat from public life. However, that was wishful thinking as both Rudd and Gillard are eager to promote and defend their legacy and have returned to the public sphere.

Julia Gillard was recently appointed chair of mental health organisation Beyondblue. It was an appointment that was highly criticised by many given Gillard’s disparagement of men’s issues when she was Prime Minister and one of her first statements was to question the mental capabilities of Donald Trump.

Kevin Rudd after his failed campaign to be the next UN Secretary General has had to settle for being the President of the Asia Society Policy Institute, a think tank that describes its mission as “tackling major policy challenges confronting the Asia-Pacific in security, prosperity, sustainability, and the development of common norms and values for the region”.

Empowered by his new position Kevin Rudd has decided to re-enter the foreign policy debate offering his supposed expertise current geopolitical issues. His latest contribution is offering advice on how Trump and Australia should handle the very likely possibility of nuclear capable North Korea.

First Rudd told CNN that China can be relied upon to get North Korea to come to a more reasonable position and stated that Trump will just have put his pride aside to accept a nuclear North Korea “if the North Koreans evolve into a fully replete nuclear weapons state with ICBMs with miniaturised warheads on top then, well, the Chinese view is the US will then just have to accept that reality”.


So, the US should not take seriously the fact that North Korea has threatened to nuke a US territory? That sounds like strong national security advice. Most foreign policy analysists have said that the North Korea situation needs to be resolved as previous administrations have just let the problem fester.

Rudd was not just eager to whack Trump but also Malcolm Turnbull for stating that Australia would support any action the United States may take against North Korea. Rudd claimed, “You never, as an Australian prime minister, as an ally of the United States, give the Americans before the event a blank cheque” adding “Good God, have the conservatives learnt nothing from the Iraq experience?” Nevermind the fact that Australia is still a signatory to the ANZUS treaty and unlike Iraq, a US territory has actually been threatened.

Let’s remember that Rudd doesn’t exactly have a stellar record on Foreign Affairs. Let’s remember the leaked phone call he had with then US President George W. Bush in 2008 which afterwards he mocked Bush for not knowing what the G20 was. In aftermath of the failed Copenhagen climate talks, he called the Chinese ‘ratfuckers’. He also had a crass nickname for the then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon ‘Spanky Banky’. Not exactly great examples of delicate diplomacy.

Let us remember Rudd’s other recent contribution to Australia politics when he stated that when Prime Minister he was not actually serious about never settling asylum seekers who came to Australia by boat in the mainland. Stating if they could not be resettled in a year they would be allowed in Australia.

So, the question remains given Rudd’s record why does the mainstream media believe that Rudd’s opinion needs to be sought? The answer is most likely the fact that they believe because Rudd was an Australian Prime Minister, albeit a very poor one that his criticism of the Turnbull government and the Trump administration carries a certain amount of weight. The public’s reaction to Rudd’s contribution is most likely asking him to go away rather than taking his opinions seriously.

There is no shortage of politicians and commentators who want to take a whack at the federal government and Donald Trump, unfortunately for the media, Rudd isn’t going to be the person to finally get the left’s rage to cut through to the mainstream.

The media of course when it comes to the North Korean crises is more interesting in criticising Trump’s rhetoric than the fact that North Korea could launch a nuclear attack. This is a serious situation for which further outbursts of Trump Derangement Syndrome offer nothing to the public debate.

North Korea has always been a problem and if Trump can find a way to end it that is a better result than a former Australia Prime Minister’s unwelcome proposal that we should all just accept an unhinged new nuclear superpower.

Tim Wilms is co-editor in chief of The Unshackled, where this piece also appears.

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