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May 5, 2008

Wikipedia: Kevin Rudd

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The Honourable
Kevin Michael Rudd
BA (Hons) MP
Kevin Rudd

26th Prime Minister of Australia
Elections: 2007
Incumbent
Assumed office
3 December 2007
Deputy Julia Gillard
Preceded by John Howard

Leader of the Australian Labor Party
Incumbent
Assumed office
4 December 2006
Preceded by Kim Beazley

Member of the Australian Parliament
for Griffith
Incumbent
Assumed office
3 October 1998
Preceded by Graeme McDougall

Born 21 September 1957 (1957-09-21) (age 50)
Nambour, Queensland, Australia
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse Thérèse Rein
Alma mater Australian National University
Profession Diplomat
Civil servant
Website Prime Minister of Australia’s website

Kevin Michael Rudd MP (born 21 September 1957) is the 26th Prime Minister of Australia and federal leader of the centre-left Australian Labor Party (ALP). Under Rudd’s leadership, the Labor Party won the 2007 federal election on 24 November against the incumbent centre-right Liberal/National coalition government led by John Howard. He and the rest of the ministry were sworn in by the Governor-General, Michael Jeffery, on 3 December 2007.

Contents

Early life

Kevin Rudd (left), 1974 'Youth Speaks for Australia' contest winner at age 17

Kevin Rudd (left), 1974 ‘Youth Speaks for Australia’ contest winner at age 17

Rudd was born in Nambour, Queensland and grew up on a dairy farm in nearby Eumundi. He boarded at Marist College Ashgrove in Brisbane[1] and was dux of Nambour State High School in 1974.[2] His father, a share farmer and Country Party member, died when Rudd was 11 and the family was compelled to leave the farm under hardship.[3] Rudd joined the Australian Labor Party in 1972 at the age of 15.[4]

Rudd studied at the Australian National University in Canberra where he resided at Burgmann College and graduated with First Class Honours in Arts (Asian Studies). He majored in Chinese language and Chinese history, became proficient in Mandarin and acquired a Chinese alias, Lù Kèwén (traditional Chinese: 陸克文).[5][6][7][8] His thesis on Chinese democracy activist Wei Jingsheng[9] was supervised by Pierre Ryckmans, the eminent Belgian-Australian Sinologist.[10] During his studies Rudd cleaned the house of political commentator Laurie Oakes to earn money.[11] In 1980 he continued his Chinese studies at the National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, Taiwan.[12]

In 1981, Rudd married Thérèse Rein whom he had met at a gathering of the Australian Student Christian Movement during his university years. They have three children: Jessica (born 1984), Nicholas (born 1986) and Marcus (born 1993).[13][14][15][16][17]

Entry into politics

In 1981 Rudd joined the Department of Foreign Affairs, where he served until 1988. He and his wife spent most of the 1980s overseas posted at the Australian embassies in Stockholm, Sweden and later in Beijing, China.

Returning to Australia in 1988, he was appointed Chief of Staff to the Labor Opposition Leader in Queensland, Wayne Goss. He became Chief of Staff to the Premier when the Labor party won office in 1989, a position he held until 1992, when Goss appointed him Director-General of the Office of Cabinet. In this position Rudd was arguably Queensland’s most powerful bureaucrat.[10] In this role he presided over a number of reforms including development of a national program for teaching foreign languages in schools. Rudd was influential in both promoting a policy of developing an Asian languages and cultures program which was unanimously accepted by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 1992 and later chaired a high level Working Group which provided the foundation of the strategy in its report, which is frequently cited as “the Rudd Report”.[18]

After the Goss government lost office in 1995, Rudd was hired as a Senior China Consultant by the accounting firm KPMG Australia. He held this position while unsuccessfully contesting the federal seat of Griffith at the 1996 federal election. He contested the seat again at the 1998 election and won.

Member of Parliament

Rudd made his first speech to the Australian Parliament on 11 November 1998.[19] His most publicised local cause was opposition to a suggested parallel runway at Brisbane Airport, against which he organised one of Brisbane’s largest public demonstrations, receiving massive media coverage. His commitment to the issue reduced when the airport altered its plans with the support of Queensland premier Peter Beattie, removing Rudd’s constituency from projected flightpaths and, with the advice of the airport’s 3PR adviser, renaming it a “staggered” runway, rendering the Rudd campaign’s widely distributed “No Parallel Runway” posters out-of-date. The development received legally binding permission to proceed in 2007 under John Howard’s administration.

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs (2001–2005)

Kevin Rudd in November 2005

Kevin Rudd in November 2005

Following his 1998 election success, Rudd was promoted to the Opposition front bench after the 2001 election and appointed Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. In this role, he strongly criticised the Howard government over its support for the United States in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent operations there, while maintaining Labor’s position of support for the Australian-American alliance.

Well, what Secretary Powell and the US seems to have said is that he now has grave doubts about the accuracy of the case he put to the United Nations about the claim that Iraq possessed biological weapons laboratories – the so-called mobile trailers. And here in Australia, that formed also part of the government’s argument on the war. I think what it does is it adds to the fabric of how the Australian people were misled about the reasons for going to war.[20]

Rudd’s policy experience and parliamentary performances during the Iraq war made him one of the better known members of the Labor front bench. When Opposition Leader Simon Crean was challenged by his predecessor Kim Beazley in June, Rudd did not publicly commit himself to either candidate.[21] When Crean finally resigned in late November, Rudd was considered a possible candidate for the Labor leadership,[22] However, he announced that he would not run in the leadership ballot, and would instead vote for Kim Beazley.

Rudd was predicted by some commentators to be demoted or moved as a result of his support for Beazley following the election of Mark Latham as Leader, but he retained his portfolio. Relations between Latham and Rudd deteriorated during 2004, especially after Latham made his pledge to withdraw all Australian forces from Iraq by Christmas 2004 without consulting Rudd.[23] After Latham failed to win the October 2004 federal election, Rudd was again spoken of as a possible alternative leader. He retained his foreign affairs portfolio and disavowed any intention of challenging Latham.

When Latham suddenly resigned in January 2005, Rudd was visiting Indonesia and refused to say whether he would be a candidate for the Labor leadership.[24] Such a candidacy would have required him to run against Beazley, his factional colleague. “The important thing for me to do is to consult with my colleagues in the party”, he said.[25] After returning from Indonesia, Rudd consulted with Labor MPs in Sydney and Melbourne and announced that he would not contest the leadership. Kim Beazley was subsequently elected leader.

In June 2005 Rudd was given expanded responsibilities as the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Security and, also, the Shadow Minister for Trade.

Leader of the Opposition

In December 2006, with a Newspoll opinion poll indicating voter support for Rudd to be double that for Beazley,[26] he announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Australian Labor Party in a Beazley-announced leadership ballot.[27][28] Fellow Labor MP Julia Gillard ran alongside Rudd for Deputy Leader of the ALP.

Kevin Rudd (right) and Julia Gillard (left) at their first press conference as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party, 4 December 2006

Kevin Rudd (right) and Julia Gillard (left) at their first press conference as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party, 4 December 2006

The vote took place on Monday 4 December 2006 and saw Rudd elected leader with 49 votes to Beazley’s 39, almost exactly three years after the election of Mark Latham to the leadership. Gillard was subsequently elected unopposed as Deputy Leader.[29]

At his first press conference as leader, having thanked Beazley and former deputy leader Jenny Macklin, Rudd said he would offer a “new style of leadership”, and would be an “alternative, not just an echo” of the Howard government. He outlined the areas of industrial relations, the war in Iraq, climate change, Australian federalism, social justice, and the future of Australia’s manufacturing industry as major policy concerns. Rudd also stressed his long experience in state government, as a diplomat and also in business before entering federal politics.[30]

Rudd and the ALP soon overtook the government in both party and leadership polling. The new leader maintained a high media profile with major announcements on federalism, climate change, broadband Internet and the domestic car industry.

Since 2002, Rudd appeared regularly in interviews and topical discussions on the popular breakfast television program Sunrise, along with federal Liberal MP Joe Hockey. This was credited with helping raise Rudd’s public profile.[31] Rudd and Hockey ended these appearances in April 2007 citing the increasing political pressures of an election year.[32] On 21 October, 2007 Rudd presented strongly in a televised debate against incumbent prime minister John Howard.[33]

On 19 August 2007, it was revealed that Rudd, with New York Post editor Col Allan and Labor backbencher Warren Snowdon, had briefly visited a strip club in New York in September 2003. When he realised it was a strip club, he left.[34] The incident generated a lot of media coverage, but made no impact on Rudd’s popularity in the polls.[35] Indeed, some people believe that the incident may have enabled Rudd to appear “more human” and lifted his popularity.[36]

Prime Minister

The 2007 election campaign

Kevin Rudd campaigning with Kerry Rea in Bonner on 21 September 2007

Kevin Rudd campaigning with Kerry Rea in Bonner on 21 September 2007

Main article: Australian federal election, 2007

On the evening of 24 November 2007, some fifty weeks since Rudd became Labor leader, John Howard held a late night press conference conceding that the Coalition had lost the right to govern. Shortly afterwards, Rudd made his victory speech as Prime Minister-elect, saying he would “be a Prime Minister for all Australians.”[37] Labor’s win was coined a ‘Ruddslide’ by the media and was underpinned by the considerable support from Rudd’s home state of Queensland, with the state result recording a two party preferred swing of 7.53 percent.[38][39] The nationwide swing was 5.45 percent to Labor, the 3rd largest swing since two party estimates began in 1949.

The next day, Rudd announced he and wife Therese would live in The Lodge, the Prime Minister’s official residence in Canberra, and only use Kirribilli House while on official business in Sydney.[40] As foreshadowed during the election campaign, on 29 November Rudd directly chose his frontbench, breaking with more than a century of Labor tradition whereby the frontbench was chosen by party factions.[41][42]

Kevin Rudd is only the second Queenslander to lead his party to a federal election victory, the first being Andrew Fisher almost a century earlier, in 1910 (although Fisher had first become Prime Minister in 1908 when the Alfred Deakin government resigned). Queenslanders Arthur Fadden (1941) and Frank Forde (1945) were also Prime Ministers for short periods, but in neither case did they contest an election – in Fadden’s case the incumbent Robert Menzies resigned; in Forde’s case the incumbent John Curtin died. Rudd is also the first Prime Minister since WWII not to come from either New South Wales or Victoria; the last were Curtin (Western Australia) and Forde in 1945.

Kevin Rudd is soon expected to be added to the Prime Minister’s Avenue, a collection of busts of all Prime Ministers of Australia, located at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens in Ballarat, Victoria.[43]

First term: 2007–present

On 3 December 2007, Rudd was sworn in as Prime Minister by the Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery.[44] Rudd’s first official act, on his first day in office, was to sign the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.[45]

Kevin Rudd on screen in Federation Square, Melbourne, apologising to the stolen generations.

Kevin Rudd on screen in Federation Square, Melbourne, apologising to the stolen generations.

Kevin Rudd meets the crowd in Parliament House following the apology to the stolen generations.

Kevin Rudd meets the crowd in Parliament House following the apology to the stolen generations.

On 13 February 2008 Rudd fulfilled an election promise to apologise to Indigenous Australians for the stolen generation as the parliament’s first order of business. The apology was well received,[46] however, the government came under some criticism for refusing to provide victims with monetary compensation.[47][48][49][50] However, Rudd did pledge the government to bridging the gap between the vast differences between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australian health, education, and living conditions.[51] Despite bipartisan support for the apology, two of Rudd’s senior staff joined in on turning their backs part way through the Opposition Leader’s reply. Rudd did not apologise for their actions,[52] but said that he would require them to do so in writing.

WorkChoices, the industrial relations regime introduced by the Howard government, will be overhauled and replaced with a new national system. Rudd’s cutbacks on public spending in state politics have flowed through, with a “five point plan” to combat the inflation problem it “inherited from the previous Coalition government” (due in part to record low unemployment, also a legacy of the Howard government [53]), with new training places to target skills shortages in various sectors, and a “razor gang” going through the budget looking for savings, with added pressures in the domestic and international economy. The target surplus of the national Gross Domestic Product has also been increased from 1.0 to 1.5 per cent.[54][55][56][57][58]

Plans are under way for the withdrawal of Australian troops from the Iraq War.[59] The question of Republicanism in Australia was raised following the failed 1999 referendum, and although Rudd is a republican, he has indicated that no referendum will take place in the near future.[60] In late January, Rudd declared funding for homeless persons, with the major plank of the policy being $150 million in emergency accommodation.[61]

Kevin Rudd with US Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England in March 2008

Kevin Rudd with US Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England in March 2008

In February 2008 he announced the Australia 2020 Summit, to be held over 19/20 April 2008, bringing together 1000 leading Australians to discuss ten areas he sees as critical for Australia’s future development.[62]

Newspoll polling in February 2008 saw Rudd achieve a “Preferred Prime Minister” rating of 70 percent, setting a new Newspoll record for any Prime Minister.[63] March figures set another record, 73 to 7 percent. The two party preferred figure also set a Newspoll record, at 63 to 37 percent.[64]

Rudd began a 17-day international tour in March 2008, meeting with government leaders in the United States, Europe and China including US President George W Bush, presidential candidates John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II and President of The People’s Republic of China Hu Jintao. His knowledge of Mandarin Chinese and experience as a diplomat in China have been acknowledged by leaders, with US President George Bush stating that “It’s clear when you talk to [Rudd], he is an expert on China.”[65] He also addressed students at Peking University, Beijing in Mandarin.[66] In his absence Julia Gillard served as Acting Prime Minister, the first female to do so in Australia. Upon his return, Rudd announced that Quentin Bryce would become the first female Governor General of Australia.

In April 2008 the Rudd Labor government improved LGBT rights in Australia by announcing reforms to the recognition of same-sex relationships, in tax, health, employment, superannuation, aged care and other areas. A government audit identified around 100 laws where gay couples faced discrimination, an expansion on a 2007 report by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission which found around 58 laws. Changes are to be implemented between mid-2008 and mid-2009 to remove these laws. These changes will not affect marriage, IVF access, and adoption rights.[67][68] The Australian Capital Territory’s Civil union legislation, originally blocked by the Howard government, was watered down following an ACT Government backdown, after the Rudd Government had a change of heart and threatened to veto the law.[69][70]

Political views

Economics

In his first speech to parliament, Rudd stated that:

Competitive markets are massive and generally efficient generators of economic wealth. They must therefore have a central place in the management of the economy. But markets sometimes fail, requiring direct government intervention through instruments such as industry policy. There are also areas where the public good dictates that there should be no market at all.

We are not afraid of a vision in the Labor Party, but nor are we afraid of doing the hard policy yards necessary to turn that vision into reality. Parties of the Centre Left around the world are wrestling with a similar challenge—the creation of a competitive economy while advancing the overriding imperative of a just society. Some call this the `third way’. The nomenclature is unimportant. What is important is that it is a repudiation of Thatcherism and its Australian derivatives represented opposite. It is in fact a new formulation of the nation’s economic and social imperatives.[71]

Rudd is critical of free market economists such as Friedrich Hayek,[72] although Rudd describes himself as “basically a conservative when it comes to questions of public financial management”, pointing to his slashing of public service jobs as a Queensland governmental advisor.[73]

Foreign policy

Kevin Rudd (left) and US President George W. Bush (right) meet at APEC Australia 2007 in Sydney

Kevin Rudd (left) and US President George W. Bush (right) meet at APEC Australia 2007 in Sydney

As shadow foreign minister, Rudd reformulated Labor’s foreign policy in terms of “Three Pillars”: engagement with the UN, engagement with Asia, and the US alliance.[74]

Although disagreeing with the original commitment to the Iraq War, Rudd supports the continued deployment of Australian troops in Iraq, but not the continued deployment of combat troops. Rudd, in his role as shadow foreign minister had written a letter in November 2003 to Prime Minister John Howard offering policy ideas after the fall of Baghdad. Among his recommendations were a deployment of trainers for the New Iraqi army, and using the Australian Electoral Commission to help Iraq stage elections.[75] However, Labor pledged in 2007 to replace 550 existing combat troops with new troops serving training and border security roles (possibly stationed in other countries around the Middle East), with a continued presence of over 1,000 Australian troops stationed in Iraq (in 2007, there were 1,575 Australian military personnel operating within Iraq). [76] Rudd is also in favour of Australia’s military presence in Afghanistan.[77]

Rudd backs the road map for peace plan and defended Israel’s actions during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, condemning Hezbollah and Hamas for violating Israeli territory.[78]

The Prime Minister also pledged support for East Timor stating that Australian troops will remain in East Timor for as long as East Timor’s government wants them to.[79]

Rudd also gave his support for the independence of Kosovo from Serbia,[80] before Australia officially recognised the republic.[81]

Industrial relations

Rudd opposed certain aspects of the Howard government’s WorkChoices industrial relations legislation, but indicated, during the 2007 election campaign, plans to retain other parts of it (including illegality of secondary boycotts, the right of employers to lock workers out, restriction of union right of entry to workplaces, and restrictions on workers’ right to strike). Rudd’s policy included the phasing out of Australian Workplace Agreements over a period of up to five years, the establishment of a simpler awards system as a safety net, the restoration of unfair dismissal laws for companies with under 100 employees (probation period of 12 months for companies with less than 15 employees), and the retention of the Australian Building and Construction Commission until 2010.[82] Rudd also outlined the establishment of a single industrial relations bureaucracy called Fair Work Australia.[83]

Environment

On 3 December 2007, hours after being sworn in, Rudd signed the Kyoto Protocol.[84] Rudd stated that:

Australia’s official declaration today that we will become a member of the Kyoto Protocol is a significant step forward in our country’s efforts to fight climate change domestically – and with the international community.

In October, the then Prime Minister John Howard said that Labor’s policy on climate change negotiations had no significant differences to the Liberals’ policy.[85] The Liberal policy is a 15 percent cut in emissions by 2020, whilst the Labor policy plans to cut 20 percent in emissions by 2020.

Rudd supports the construction of the Bell Bay Pulp Mill in the Tamar Valley, Tasmania, and has pledged not to protect old growth forests from further logging.[86]

Religious views

Rudd and his family attend the Anglican church of St John the Baptist in Bulimba in his electorate. Although raised a Roman Catholic, Rudd began attending Anglican services in the 1980s with his wife.[4] Like John Howard, Rudd has addressed congregations of the Hillsong Church.

Rudd is the mainstay of the parliamentary prayer group in Parliament House, Canberra. [87] He is vocal about his Christianity and has given a number of prominent interviews to the Australian religious press on the topic.[88] Rudd has defended church representatives engaging with policy debates, particularly with respect to WorkChoices legislation, climate change, global poverty, therapeutic cloning and asylum seekers.[89] In an essay in The Monthly, Rudd writes:

A Christian perspective on contemporary policy debates may not prevail. It must nonetheless be argued. And once heard, it must be weighed, together with other arguments from different philosophical traditions, in a fully contestable secular polity. A Christian perspective, informed by a social gospel or Christian socialist tradition, should not be rejected contemptuously by secular politicians as if these views are an unwelcome intrusion into the political sphere. If the churches are barred from participating in the great debates about the values that ultimately underpin our society, our economy and our polity, then we have reached a very strange place indeed.[90]

He cites Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a personal inspiration in this regard.[91]

In late January 2007, Tony Abbott – a former seminarian and federal minister for health under the coalition government – criticised Rudd’s use of Christianity in Australian politics,[92] contrasting Rudd’s public appeal to Christian values with his voting record on issues such as the introduction of the abortion-inducing drug RU486.[93]

Rudd is opposed to same-sex marriage:

I have a pretty basic view on this, as reflected in the position adopted by our party, and that is, that marriage is between a man and a woman.[94]

Honours

Five months after being elected, Kevin Rudd made Time magazine’s “100 most influential people”.[95][96]

See also

  • First Rudd Ministry
  • Next Australian federal election
  • List of Prime Ministers of Queen Elizabeth II
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