Subject: Kevin Rudd
PRESENTER: Anthony Albanese joins us on the line now. Good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning. Good to talk to you.
PRESENTER: Mr Albanese, thanks for joining us. Maniacal, power-hungry, a bully, and they’re some of the nice things people have said about Kevin Rudd. Why should we be rubber stamping his bid to go for the UN job?
ALBANESE: Kevin Rudd is of course a distinguished former Prime Minister, former Foreign Minister, former diplomat. He played a key role in the G20 formation and in the global response to the Global Financial Crisis. I’ve seen him at the G20, the first one that was held in London and he played an extraordinary role in bringing together, if you like, the old world and the new world. The old European powers, the United States, China. He was able to get across that breadth of diversity that’s there in the international community.
When you have an Australian putting themselves forward for such a prestigious position it seems incomprehensible to me that Australia would not back the Australian candidate. Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, said he wanted bipartisanship, said he was going to get beyond the old politics of conflict that Tony Abbott –
PRESENTER: Is that the politics of conflict when the Labor Party stopped Peter Costello from heading up the International Monetary Fund five years ago?
ALBANESE: That’s just nonsense, of course.
PRESENTER: That didn’t happen?
ALBANESE: The Labor Party did not stop Peter Costello heading up the IMF. The Labor Party appointed Peter Costello to the Future Fund board, just like we appointed Brendan Nelson as an Ambassador, just like we appointed Tim Fischer as an Ambassador, just like myself as the Minister appointed Bruce Baird, former Coalition MP and Coalition minister in the NSW Government to head the national transport regulator because he was the right person for the job.
PRESENTER: But when it comes to Kevin Rudd, your own party dumped him as leader because of his chaotic and shambolic leadership of the party and governance.
ALBANESE: That’s not right.
PRESENTER: Well it is right.
ALBANESE: It isn’t right. A majority of the Caucus made a decision to change leaders based upon what they saw as the electoral prospects in the lead up to the 2010 election.
PRESENTER: But you know everyone was muttering, weren’t they, that the government was a shambles under Kevin Rudd?
ALBANESE: That’s not right. I’ve sat in a Cabinet chaired by Kevin Rudd. He was a very good chair, as was Julia Gillard as Prime Minister and the fact is that this is an opportunity to not play petty politics. How pathetic would it be if Australia does not back the Australian candidate? That’s all that’s being asked here – for his nomination to go forward. He has had a distinguished career internationally; he’s head of the Asia Society in New York. He’s someone who’s widely respected on the international stage. Him going forward doesn’t mean, of course, that his election will be guaranteed. It will be up to the international community at the UN.
PRESENTER: You don’t like his odds of getting up for the job anyway, do you? They’re not good, are they?
ALBANESE: We’ll wait and see. From what I read, it’s understood that the Eastern Europeans would have the front running, having never had a candidate from Eastern Europe before, but there’s no doubt that Kevin Rudd – I’ve seen him engage not just domestically but internationally. He’s a formidable person.
PRESENTER: John’s just itching to jump off the fence here. He’s been polishing his halo.
PRESENTER: No, I’ve got a question for you. Say in a parallel universe, three years down the track, you get a big swing in your direction at the next election. James Mathison is the new Member for Warringah. Tony Abbott loses his seat and Tony Abbott’s name comes up before your Cabinet for the job of say UN Secretary-General. Would you endorse him?
ALBANESE: I don’t think Tony Abbott would be a candidate for the UN Secretary-General. But if there was another job, absolutely. I see nothing wrong with treating people with a bit of respect. In the United States, regardless of what people think about partisan politics, Presidents remain ‘Mr President’. When I go to the United States as part of the Australia-US Dialogue, I’m ‘Deputy Prime Minister Albanese’. You retain your title, you retain that respect. And here in Australia I think that Kevin Rudd’s candidature is worthy of respect. It’s extraordinary that the Cabinet has dealt with this over such a long period of time.
PRESENTER: If you were putting a bet on today, which was would Malcolm Turnbull go?
ALBANESE: I think Malcolm Turnbull will support the bid. He is someone who –
PRESENTER: He’s really going to take on the conservative rump of his Coalition?
ALBANESE: Well, it’s not a matter of that. It’s a matter of putting the national interest first. This is not an issue of factional divide in the Liberal Party. This should be simply about the national interest. There’s an Australian candidate there. I mean, who are we backing next week at the Olympics? Are we having a debate – oh, not sure about the guy in the pool in the 1500 metre race, not sure if I’ll back the Aussie? Of course not. They’re wearing Australian colours, you back the Australian candidate.
PRESENTER: Can I just ask you, you said when you go to the United States, they call you ‘Deputy Prime Minister Albanese’, because you’re a former Deputy Prime Minister. Would that be why Kevin Rudd spends so much time over there, they must call him Prime Minister Rudd?
ALBANESE: I’m sure they do. That’s the case in a whole range countries.
PRESENTER: So he turns up at a restaurant and they say oh, the Australian Prime Minister’s already here, she’s over in the corner there, Julia Gillard.
ALBANESE: Well, that’s what happens in the United States, of course. President Bush, there’s two of them!
PRESENTER: That’s right.
PRESENTER: I’d like to see that food fight start up.
PRESENTER: Deputy PM, thank you very much for your time.
ALBANESE: Good to talk to you this morning.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.