Latham's Law

Latham’s law

14 August 2021

9:00 AM

14 August 2021

9:00 AM

Rupert, keep an eye on your bunny rabbit

Obsessiveness is one of the most fascinating and under-reported aspects of human nature.

In most people, it is limited to the childhood years. That manic drive to get a full set of footy cards; or every Barbie Doll an 8-year-old can reach on the shelves of Big W.

But in adults, it can become the equivalent of a medical condition.

In Wyoming USA there is a man who has tattooed every part of his  skin, even down to the colouring of his eyes. In the Czech Republic, there is a woman who has 358 body piercings, making her the human equivalent of nearby Swiss cheese.

Something similar is happening on the Sunshine Coast, where a 63-year-old man spends his time obsessing about the Murdoch media.

His name is Kevin, he’s from Queensland and he’s gone ga-ga about Rupert.

Mr Rudd has become the Edward Scissorhands of Australian politics. Every day he cuts out News Corp articles he doesn’t like and posts them on social media, an online scrapbook of vitriol and revenge. It’s accompanied by constant appeals for people to sign his petition for a Royal Commission into Murdoch, deluded in the belief that this keyboard campaign will produce something more substantial than pitiful laughter in Canberra.

As a way of life, most of us would prefer the 358 body piercings.

Rudd’s obsessiveness is like watching a slow-moving version of Fatal Attraction. If the Murdochs have any pet bunny rabbits, they need to disable their kitchen stove-top immediately.

Indeed, Rudd and Rupert Murdoch were once close, in a politically clandestine, hot passionate affair kind of way.

As an MP between 1998 and 2013, no one in the history of our federal parliament has spent more time courting a particular media group than Rudd.For hours on end, the young Brisbane hopeful would hit the phones pleading for Murdochesque column inches.

The former editor of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, David Penberthy, has said it was so bad he thought about taking out a restraining order. Then finally Kevin cracked it. In April 2007 as leader of the opposition, he travelled to New York to have dinner with his newfound best-buddy-pal Rupert, paving the way for favourable News Corp coverage in that year’s federal election. It all seemed so natural, so loving, even before the invention of the LGBTQI alphabet. Rudd was also godfather to the son of Murdoch’s longtime editor at the Australian, Chris Mitchell. He was so close to Mitchell that in 2008 at Kirribilli House he let him listen in to a phone conversation with the US President, George W. Bush.

In Rudd’s memoir, The PM Years, he described his relationship with veteran News Corp journalists Malcolm Farr and Dennis Shanahan as akin to ‘family’.  Penberthy has chronicled dinner and (too many) drinks hosted by Rudd at Kirribilli for the ‘Tele boys’, culminating in a 3am race up the grassy hill of the Prime Ministerial residence. Oh, the joy of bromance.

How did this great love affair end? How did Romeo and Juliet end up looking more like Glenn Close and Michael Douglas?

Ever keen to establish the truth, I have been looking for clues. In this Sydney lockdown, I have made the ultimate sacrifice of trying to read the 1300 pages of the two volumes of Rudd’s memoirs.(Sad, hey? But not as sad as the lockdown itself.) I say ‘trying’, as it’s impossible for any sane person to digest every word, given Rudd’s long, rambling bugle-call of self-justification.

Having read perhaps 70 per cent of Kevvie’s psychobabble, I think I can condense the half-a-million words into just four: The Search For Love.

In the first volume, Not For The Faint-Hearted, we learn of Rudd’s hostility to the memory of his father Bert, who is depicted as a boozing, womanising, violent beast of a man.

Rudd grew up believing that his dad did not love him, a crushing burden for anyone to carry through life. To compensate for this emotional cavern, young Kevin tried to use politics as a way of generating adulation, to feel loved. Anyone who crossed him and failed to recognise his greatness was automatically defined as Satanic. So that’s Julia Gillard, 70 per cent of the Labor Caucus and by the time of the 2013 federal election campaign, Murdoch and his entire band of editors and journalists.

In his books, Rudd has created an alternative universe where it’s Harry Potter vs Voldemort, Superman vs Kryptonite, Caesar vs Brutus. Page after page, chapter after chapter, culminating in a collage of colour photographs of News Corp front pages from 2013, said to be biased against the great man and in favour of his rival, Tony Abbott. Australian politics has never seen anything like it. All of us in politics harbour grudges of one kind or another. But they fade with the passing of time, reduced to irrelevance. For Rudd, however, time has stood still. He’s living every day as if it’s 2013, permanently seething at the injustice of losing to Abbott, with Murdoch as his scapegoat.

This is Kevin’s life now: building on the montage in his memoirs, to daily post on social media fresh photographic evidence of an evil News empire.

Perhaps Murdoch needs to put in a call to the Fixated Persons Police Unit, reporting a strange Colonel Sanders lookalike for stalking. If the Friendly Jordies crew could be arrested for crimes against John Barilaro, then Rudd must be staring at 20 years in Boggo Road.

The more I think about it, the Colonel Sanders analogy is spot on. The Colonel’s trademark attire was a beautifully pristine white coat.

Kevin Rudd belongs in one too.

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