He’s been out of Canberra for nearly five years, but that hasn’t stopped Kevin Rudd airing his criticisms on the current government.
The former prime minister penned a scathing assault on Malcolm Turnbull in The Australian on Sunday, calling the current leader weak on China and accusing him of modern-day “McCarthyism”.
He said Australia needs a “systematic, comprehensive, whole-of-government national China strategy”, so as not to miss the boat on the country’s rise to the top of the global economical heap.
“Our government approved and implemented such a strategy through cabinet,” he wrote of his own time in office. “It provided a balanced framework for maximising the opportunities and managing the challenges in the China relationship. China has a strategy for dealing with us. That’s why we developed one for dealing with them. By contrast, Turnbull has lurched from one extreme to the other, from apologist to confrontationist.
“If Turnbull was actually interested, I’d happily arrange to let him read it. But then again, proper approval for the confidential release of cabinet documents seems to be optional these days in Canberra.”
The former PM also accused Turnbull of backflipping on China, having blocked its attempt to be involved in the NBN rollout across Australia while he was communications minister for the Liberal Party, only to praise our strong working relationship with the Asian super power upon taking office.
“The Liberals historically see foreign policy as little more than the continuation of domestic politics, often the politics of race, by other means,” Rudd wrote. “John Howard was a master of it, Pauline Hanson his partner, and Tony Abbott his failed apprentice. We thought Turnbull would be better. Alas not.”
In perhaps his cruellest burn, Rudd also compared Turnbull to Joe McCarthy, the famed US Senator who spent much of the 1950s trying to weed Communism from the US.
He accused the PM of trying to strong-arm China with tough sound bites to get a reaction from Beijing and lift his own popularity at home in the face of waning popularity polls.
“The price we have paid has been long-term damage to Australian interests in one of our two most important strategic relationships,” Rudd wrote. “Australia deserves better than the rank amateurism we have seen on the Australia-China relationship under Chairman Malcolm’s new McCarthyism.”
Turnbull is yet to respond to the article. He is currently in the US for meetings with President Donald Trump.