Today marks a very important day for Kevin Rudd as he is now gunning for a new top job.
The Federal Cabinet will today decide whether to give Kevin Rudd the chance to become United Nations secretary–general.
Cabinet members are divided over whether to approve his bid to run for the UN position but if they do nominate him, they are not planning to take the next step campaigning for him, reports SMH.
Some pollies have come forward to urge Cabinet to fully support the former Prime Minister and they include former Liberal MP Bruce Baird, who said “it is the test of how big we are as a nation that we would nominate a former prime minister — who was prime minister twice to run for an international post or whether we are basically content to be just a small minded petty partisan country.”
Independent Bob Katter who issued a statement with the same phrase that opposing the nomination would be seen as “petty, partisan and political” has since urged the Government to support Mr Rudd.
He told ABC NewsRadio that Mr Rudd is intimately familiar with the workings of the two great giants — China and the US.
“He’s imminently qualified for this position and we have an opportunity to get an Australian into one of the most important positions on earth,” said Katter.
“It would be very unAustralian and very unpatriotic for the Government to sideswipe that opportunity. And the Government will pay a very serious price if they do.”
Mr Baird also noted Mr Rudd’s connections with China.
“He has strong credentials as a former diplomat, he had experience as a foreign minister and … he speaks fluent Mandarin,” Mr Baird said.
Benardi says Rudd would destroy the UN from within
Former speaker Bronwyn Bishop told Sky saw a different reason to nominate Mr Rudd.
“If you have got a problem with the United Nations and you really want to see its powers lessened, send Kevin,” Mrs Bishop said.
In February, Liberal Cory Bernardi told Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that the only reason to do it would be to destroy the UN from within.
Mrs Bishop will ask Cabinet today to decide on his nomination — if it agrees there would be no extra resources to campaign for him.
But Mr Baird says it should be all or nothing as with former political rivals in New Zealand.
“If it is good enough for John Key to support strongly Helen Clark for the position — then we should also nominate Kevin and do so enthusiastically. Let’s endorse him and wish him our best from the whole of Australia,” Mr Baird said.
He argued Mr Rudd should get the support of the Australian mission at the UN in New York and some lobbying with the Security Council members.
Labor in the other hand is backing its former leader but according to pollies, when Labor was in government “Kevin has been running a relentless campaign to undermine the government”.
Liberal frontbencher Alan Tudge notes that history, saying, “I did not think he was a great prime minister and there was a reason why the Labor Party took him out.”
Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of the Singapore University’s Law Faculty, is an expert on the UN who says it will be tough for Mr Rudd.
“I think it is probably an uphill battle from here but not an impossible one.”
Mr Rudd’s backers cite his Mandarin skills and his connection to China — but Mr Rudd has also had a rocky relationship with Beijing.
Professor Chesterman said his language skills would make him an interesting candidate to China.
“Whether he is someone that they think that they could trust to be a fair arbiter, someone who would not at least undermine their interests within the UN, is something I am sure they would be looking at very carefully,” he said.
“Knowing Kevin Rudd a little bit I am sure he wouldn’t be going into this if he was confident the Chinese were going to skewer his candidacy.”
Despite backlash from certain quarters and other major concers, the Prime Minister has said the decision will still be made today.
“We’ll be dealing with it today,” Mr Turnbull told Sydney radio 2GB.
“I know there’s a lot of interest in Mr Rudd, but it is far from being the most important issue that will be decided in the Cabinet today, or indeed on any other day.”