29 July 2016
by John Lord
“Unqualified”. Careful you’re not talking about yourself.
The problem with evaluating the comments made about former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s suitability or qualifications for the position of Secretary General of the United Nations is that the people making them are, compared with Rudd himself, intellectual nobodies.
After giving Rudd assurances that he would have the full support of the Government the Cabinet rolls him and Turnbull is forced to tell Rudd he is not qualified. To tell a formidable mind of the intellect of Rudd that you are not qualified must in itself, even for Turnbull, be an unnerving experience.
I mean, what do you tell a man who has had a career in the Foreign Diplomatic Service, speaks Mandarin, served as Foreign Minister and enjoys an international reputation for his knowledge of international affairs?
Whatever unqualified meant it was unsuitable for the consumption of the Australian people. We are treated on a need to know basis. Demeaning, isn’t it?
On Saturday I heard a number of people from the Coalition try to, and I mean try to define just why he is “unqualified”. People like Dan Tehan and the intellectually barren Barnaby Joyce. All they did was display their own political unworthiness.
The Government’s handling of Rudd’s attempt for the world’s top diplomatic position has turned out to be not just a question of Rudd’s qualifications but also Turnbull’s qualifications as a leader.
From the moment he became Leader of the Liberal Party it became clear that his appointment was ‘conditional’. The decision not to give him the Government’s blessing all but confirms it. Today’s decision just proves that Turnbull’s post-election rhetoric of ending partisanship was all a giant fraud, and he’s still scared witless about defying the hard-right of his party
Father Frank Brennen had this to say:
“Kevin Rudd’s Statement reveals very shoddy treatment by our present Prime Minister. Fancy declining even to meet with your predecessor when your own Foreign Minister has recommended the endorsement”.
It would have been the first time in the United Nation’s 70 year history that Australia offered a candidate for UN Secretary General.
It would have reflected well on what our nation can offer to the world – as a middle power with relationships across the world, including the developing world, smaller states, the Commonwealth, our Pacific Island friends and of course our partners in Asia.
Mr Rudd requested to be considered as a former Prime Minister, a former Foreign Minister, a career diplomat, as someone who successfully campaigned for an Australian position on the UN Security Council in 2013-14, and who has chaired the Independent Commission on Multilateralism, a two-year long review of the UN system against the core question of whether the UN remains fit for purpose.
A nomination by the government would not have granted Mr Rudd a position. It would simply have enabled him to stand alongside the 12 other candidates from across the world, and compete on his merits.
That is now not to be.
Mr Rudd flew to Sydney this morning requesting a meeting with the Prime Minister, having sought such a meeting the previous evening.
On arrival in Sydney Mr Turnbull telephoned Mr Rudd, indicating there was no opportunity for a meeting.
Mr Turnbull stated he would not be nominating Mr Rudd as a candidate for UN Secretary General.
It is a pity the Government has not seen fit to support him, as the Hawke Government supported Malcolm Fraser for the post of Secretary General of the Commonwealth, or the Howard Government supported Gareth Evans to be head of UNESCO.
Mr Rudd wishes well all candidates for the position of UN Secretary General.
Mr Rudd remains a fervent defender and advocate of the UN in these difficult times. We need the UN now more than ever.
29 JULY 2016″.
The Press Conference to announce the Rudd decision was nothing short of a train wreck. Turnbull appeared weak and indecisive. In refusing to expand on Rudd’s qualifications the Prime Minister shone a light on his own inadequacies and insulted the Australian people.
Other than saying Rudd was not “well suited” to the job he had nothing to say. Genuinely nothing. Well, he did add that he did not mean to disparage Rudd but it came over as insincere politically vindictive blabber from a man who is looking less a leader by the day.
Here we have a former PM applying for one of the world’s top jobs and because he is captive to the right of his party Turnbull makes a bad partisan decision.
Unfortunately for Turnbull the people perceive him as being weak. And in terms of leadership it is not just a perception.
This is just a case of the conservative wing of his party telling him who is in charge. I wonder what his ministry would do if he used the old Gough Whitlam method of getting his way: “Crash through or crash”.
In making this decision Turnbull has succeeded in humiliating Rudd but in doing so he has succeeded in humiliating himself.
As a newspaper columnist commented this morning Turnbull had two approaches he could have taken for making the decision on nominating Kevin Rudd as a candidate for UN Secretary General – a national approach or a political approach – and the graceless coward chose the political approach.