Australia refused yesterday to back former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s bid to be the next secretary general of the United Nations, saying that he was not suited to the job.
Rudd was spectacularly dumped as prime minister by his own Labor Party in 2010, with colleagues subsequently alleging that his office was chaotic and he was difficult to work with.
“This is not a partisan issue, this is a considered judgment,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is from the rival Liberal Party, said when announcing the decision in Sydney. “This is a judgment about Mr Rudd’s suitability for that particular role.”
Canberra revealed earlier this month that the Mandarin-speaking Rudd, who is based in New York as head of the Asia Society policy institute, was keen to lead the global body.
Candidates must be nominated by their governments and Turnbull said he made the decision not to put Rudd forward after consulting with his cabinet.
Turnbull said he explained his decision to Rudd – who brought Labor out of the political wilderness in a 2007 election landslide – but would not elaborate on his reasons.
“When the Australian government nominates a person for a job, particularly an international job like this, the threshold question is, ‘Do we believe the person, the nominee, the would-be nominee, is well suited for that position?’” he asked. “My judgment is that Mr Rudd is not, and I’ve explained to him the reasons why.”
Rudd, who served as prime minister from 2007 to 2010 and again briefly in 2013 as Labor faced an electoral wipeout, said that had he been nominated, it “would have reflected well on what our nation can offer to the world”.
“It would have been the first time in the United Nation’s 70-year history that Australia offered a candidate for UN secretary general,” he said on his Facebook page.
Rudd, who flew to Sydney yesterday requesting a meeting with Turnbull but spoke to the prime minister only by telephone, said he wished all candidates in the running for the UN job well.
Among the top contenders to succeed Ban Ki-moon are Argentina’s Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, Slovenia’s former president Danilo Turk, New Zealand’s former prime minister Helen Clark and Antonio Guterres, who served as Portugal’s prime minister and headed the UN refugee agency.
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