It’s been five years since Kevin Rudd lost the prime ministership for the second time, but it would appear the former Labor leader still isn’t over it.
Speaking in an extensive interview with the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Weekend magazine, Rudd opened up about the feelings of hurt he endured after his public rejection from office in August, 2013.
The former prime minister said he struggled to deal with the hatred aimed at him and chastised those who took pleasure in his pain throughout the difficult period in his professional life.
“I have never understood the perverse elements in Australian society that take pleasure in other people’s pain,” he said.
“But I found that in political life there are people who do enjoy that, and in the public, too. We are trained to say, ‘It’s water off a duck’s back.’ It ain’t. When you are attacked not for your views but for the kind of person you are, the truth is that the harpoon usually lands.”
After losing the 2013 election, Rudd said he wanted nothing more than to quietly retreat from all the public attention. Just three months later, he resigned from parliament.
“You don’t want to bob your head up,” he said. “You want to be out of it.”
Rudd was the first in a now long line of prime ministers to lose their job mid-term. He’s spoken in the past about his bitterness towards his former deputy Julia Gillard, who took the top job from him in a carefully staged coup in 2010.
Three years later, he would pull the same move on Gillard to gain back the prime ministership, but alas it wasn’t meant to be and he lost the federal election just under two months later.
Since then Rudd has moved to New York, where he and his wife Therese Rein own a classic brownstone home – the kind that usually fetches millions in Manhattan’s pricey real estate market and which they are currently renovating.
Rudd now works as president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and is regularly called upon by American news outlets to comment on stories as an expert in Chinese politics. So often in fact, that he told Good Weekend, he’s often recognised on the street by Americans who ask him if he’s “that British prime minister guy?”.
Overall though it seems Rudd enjoys his mostly anonymous life in New York. Any suggestion that he might return home to Brisbane sometime soon was quickly quashed when aptly described Australia’s current political climate as “indescribably juvenile”.