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Kevin Rudd

The Honourable
Kevin Rudd
26th Prime Minister of Australia
In office
3 December 2007 – 24 June 2010
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor General Michael Jeffery
Quentin Bryce
Deputy Julia Gillard
Preceded by John Howard
Succeeded by Julia Gillard
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
14 September 2010 – 22 February 2012
Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Preceded by Stephen Smith
Succeeded by Bob Carr
Leader of the Australian Labor Party
In office
4 December 2006 – 24 June 2010
Deputy Julia Gillard
Preceded by Kim Beazley
Succeeded by Julia Gillard
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Griffith
Assumed office
3 October 1998
Preceded by Graeme McDougall
Personal details
Born Kevin Michael Rudd
(1957-09-21) 21 September 1957 (age 54)
Nambour, Queensland, Australia
Political party Labor Party
Spouse(s) Thérèse Rein
Children 3
Alma mater Australian National University
Religion Christianity[1][2]

Kevin Michael Rudd (born 21 September 1957) is an Australian politician who was the 26th Prime Minister of Australia from 2007 to 2010. He also served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2010 to 2012. A member of the Australian Labor Party, Rudd has served in the House of Representatives since the 1998 federal election, representing Griffith, Queensland.

Rudd was born in Queensland and grew up on a dairy farm. He joined the Australian Labor Party at the age of 15 and was dux of Nambour State High School in 1974. He studied an arts degree in Asian studies at the Australian National University, majoring in Chinese language and Chinese history. In 1981, he married Thérèse Rein and they have three children. He worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1981 and from 1988 he was Chief of Staff to the Queensland Labor Opposition Leader and later Premier, Wayne Goss. After the Goss government lost office in 1995, Rudd was hired as a Senior China Consultant by the accounting firm KPMG Australia.

Rudd was elected to Parliament in 1998 and was promoted to the Labor frontbench in 2001 as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. In December 2006 he had become the leader of the Labor party and Leader of the Opposition; the party overtook the incumbent Liberal/National coalition government led by John Howard, in both party and leadership polling. Rudd made policy announcements on areas such as industrial relations, climate change, an "education revolution", a National Broadband Network, and health. Labor won the 2007 election, with a 23-seat swing. The Rudd government's first acts included signing the Kyoto Protocol and delivering an apology to Indigenous Australians for the stolen generations. The previous government's industrial relations legislation, WorkChoices, was largely dismantled, Australia's remaining Iraq War combat personnel were withdrawn, and the "Australia 2020 Summit" was held. In response to the Global Financial Crisis, the government provided economic stimulus packages, and Australia was one of the few western countries to avoid the late-2000s recession.

Beginning with Rudd's election to the Labor leadership, the party enjoyed a long period of high popularity in the opinion polls. However, a significant fall in Rudd's personal electoral standing was blamed on a proposed Resource Super Profits Tax and the deferral of the Senate-rejected Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. The decline in his government's support in opinion polls and growing dissatisfaction of his leadership within the Labor Party led his deputy, Julia Gillard, to announce on 23 June 2010 that she would contest the leadership in a caucus ballot the following day. Knowing he would be defeated if he contested the leadership, Rudd stepped down as party leader and Prime Minister on the morning of the ballot. He successfully recontested his parliamentary seat at the 2010 election, and was subsequently promoted back to cabinet as Minister for Foreign Affairs in Gillard's Labor minority government.

On 22 February 2012, Rudd unexpectedly announced his resignation as Foreign Minister, following speculation about a possible leadership spill.[3] On 23 February, Julia Gillard announced there would be a ballot for the leadership on 27 February, at which she would be standing again. On 24 February, Rudd also announced his candidature.[4] In the ballot, Gillard beat Rudd by 71 votes to 31.


Early life and family

Rudd was born in Nambour, Queensland to Albert and Margaret (née DeVere) Rudd, and grew up on a dairy farm in nearby Eumundi.[5] At an early age (5–7) he contracted rheumatic fever and spent a considerable time at home convalescing. It damaged his heart, but this was only discovered some 12 years later.[6] Farm life, which required the use of horses and guns, is where he developed his life-long love of horse riding and shooting clay targets.[7] When Rudd was 11, his father, a share farmer and Country Party member, died. Rudd states that the family was required to leave the farm amidst financial difficulty between two to three weeks after the death, though the family of the landowner states that the Rudds didn't have to leave for almost six months.[8] Rudd joined the Australian Labor Party in 1972 at the age of 15.[9] He boarded at Marist College Ashgrove in Brisbane[10] although these years were not happy due to the indignity of poverty and reliance on charity – he was known to be a "charity case" due to his father's sudden death; and, he has since described the school as "... tough, harsh, unforgiving, institutional Catholicism of the old school."[6] Two years later, after she retrained as a nurse, his mother moved the family to Nambour, and Rudd rebuilt his standing through study and scholastic application[6] and was dux of Nambour State High School in 1974.[11] His future Treasurer Wayne Swan attended the same school at the same time, although they did not know each other as Swan was three years ahead.[11] In that year he was also the Queensland winner of the Rotary 'Youth Speaks for Australia' public speaking contest.

Rudd is of English and Irish descent.[12] His paternal fourth great-grandparents were English and of convict heritage: Thomas Rudd and Mary Cable (she was from Essex). Thomas arrived from London, England in 1801, Mary in 1804. Thomas Rudd, a convict, arrived in NSW on board the Earl Cornwallis in 1801. He was convicted of stealing a bag of sugar.[13]

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 name, Lù Kèwén (Chinese: 陸克文 or in simplified Chinese: 陆克文).[14]

Rudd's thesis on Chinese democracy activist Wei Jingsheng[15] was supervised by Pierre Ryckmans, the eminent Belgian-Australian sinologist.[16] During his studies Rudd did housecleaning for political commentator Laurie Oakes to earn extra money.[17] In 1980 he continued his Chinese studies at the Mandarin Training Center of National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, Taiwan. Delivering the 2008 Gough Whitlam Lecture at Sydney University on The Reforming Centre of Australian Politics, Rudd praised the former Labor Prime Minister for implementing educational reforms, saying he was:

... a kid who lived Gough Whitlam's dream that every child should have a desk with a lamp on it where he or she could study. A kid whose mum told him after the 1972 election that it might just now be possible for the likes of him to go to university. A kid from the country of no particular means and of no political pedigree who could therefore dream that one day he could make a contribution to our national political life.[18]

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).[19] Rudd's nephew, Van Thanh Rudd is a Melbourne-based artist and activist.

Entry into politics

Rudd joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1981, and served there until 1988. He and his wife spent most of the 1980s overseas posted at the Australian embassies in Stockholm, Sweden, and later in Beijing, People's Republic of 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.[16] 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".[20]

During this time he underwent a cardiac valve transplant operation (Ross procedure), receiving a cadaveric aortic valve replacement for rheumatic heart disease.[21][dead link]

The Goss government nearly lost its majority in 1995 before losing it altogether in a 1996 by-election. After Goss' resignation, Rudd was hired as a Senior China Consultant by the accounting firm KPMG Australia. While in this position, he won the Labor preselection for the Brisbane-area seat of Griffith at the 1996 federal election. Despite being endorsed by the retiring Labor MP, Ben Humphreys,[22] Rudd was considerably hampered by Labor's unpopularity in Queensland, as well as a redistribution that almost halved Labor's majority. Rudd was defeated by Liberal Graeme McDougall on the eighth count as Labor was cut down to only two seats in Queensland in a massive swing. Rudd sought a rematch against McDougall in the 1998 election and won on the fifth count.

Member of Parliament

Rudd made his first speech to the Australian House of Representatives on 11 November 1998.[23]

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs: 2001–2005

  Kevin Rudd in November 2005

Rudd was promoted to the Opposition front bench following the 2001 election and appointed Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. In 2002 he met with British intelligence and helped define the position Labor would take in regards to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

There is no debate or dispute as to whether Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. He does. There's no dispute as whether he's in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. He is.[24]

After the fall of Saddam he would criticise the Howard Government over its support for the United States, 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.[25]

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.[26] When Crean finally resigned in late November, Rudd was considered a possible candidate for the Labor leadership,[27] 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.[28] 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.[29] 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.[30] 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

  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

A November 2006 Newspoll opinion poll indicated voter support for Rudd was double that for Beazley.[31] In December 2006, Beazley declared open the positions of Leader and Deputy leader of the Labor Party, and Rudd announced his candidacy for the leadership.[32][33] Fellow Labor MP Julia Gillard ran alongside Rudd for Deputy Leader against Jenny Macklin. The vote took place on 4 December 2006. Rudd was elected Leader with 49 votes to Beazley's 39. Gillard was elected unopposed as Deputy Leader after Macklin withdrew from the ballot.[34]

  Two party preferred polling during the last term of the Howard government; Rudd became Labor leader in December 2006.

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 and also as a diplomat and in business before entering federal politics.[35]

  Labour Day 2007. From left to right: Anna Bligh (then Deputy Premier of Queensland), Rudd's son Nicholas, Kevin Rudd and Grace Grace (then General Secretary of the Queensland Council of Unions).

Rudd and the Labor Party soon overtook the government in both party and leadership polling. The new leader maintained a high media profile with major announcements on an "education revolution",[36] federalism,[37] climate change,[38] a National Broadband Network, [39] and the domestic car industry.

In March 2007 the government raised questions over a series of meetings Rudd had had with former West Australian Labor Premier Brian Burke during 2005, alleging that Rudd had been attempting to use Burke's influence to become Labor leader (after losing office, Burke had spent time in prison before returning to politics as a lobbyist).[40] Rudd said that this had not been the purpose of the three meetings and said that they had been arranged by his colleague Graham Edwards, the Member for Cowan.[41]

From 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.[42] Rudd and Hockey ended the appearances in April 2007 citing the increasing political pressures of an election year.[43]

On 19 August 2007, it was revealed that Rudd, while on a visit to New York as opposition foreign affairs spokesman, had visited a strip club in September 2003, with New York Post editor Col Allan and Labor backbencher Warren Snowdon. By way of explanation, Rudd said: "I had had too much to drink, I have no recollection (nor does Mr Snowdon) of any incident occurring at the nightclub – or of being asked to leave". "It is our recollection that we left within about an hour".[44] The incident generated a lot of media coverage, but made no impact on Rudd's popularity in the polls.[45] Some believe the incident may have enabled Rudd to appear "more human" and lifted his popularity.[46]

2007 election victory

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

Electoral writs were issued for an Australian federal election on 17 October 2007.

On 21 October 2007, Rudd presented strongly in a televised debate against incumbent prime minister John Howard.[47]

On 14 November 2007, Kevin Rudd officially launched the Labor Party's election campaign with a policy of fiscal restraint, usually considered the electoral strength of the opposing Liberal party. Rudd proposed Labor spending measures totalling $2.3 billion, contrasting them to $9.4 billion Rudd claimed the Liberals had promised, declaring: "Today, I am saying loud and clear that this sort of reckless spending must stop."[48][49]

The election was held on 24 November 2007. 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.[50] The nationwide swing was 5.44 percent to Labor, the 3rd largest swing at a federal election since two party estimates began in 1949.

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 elected by the Labor caucus, with the leader then given the right to allocate portfolios.[51][52]

Prime Minister

On 3 December 2007, Rudd was sworn in as Prime Minister by the Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery.[53] Rudd was the first Prime Minister to make no mention of the Monarch in his oath of office.[54]

Kevin Rudd was the second Queenslander to lead his party to a federal election victory, the first being Andrew Fisher in 1910. Rudd was the first Prime Minister since World War II not to come from either New South Wales or Victoria and the fourth prime minister from Queensland.

Early initiatives of the Rudd Government included the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, a Parliamentary Apology to the Stolen Generations and the 2020 Summit.[55]

During their first two years in office, Rudd and his government set records for popularity in Newspoll polling.[56]

By 2010, the Prime Minister's approval ratings had dropped significantly and controversies had arisen over management of economic stimulus following the Global Financial Crisis; the delay of the government's proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme; asylum seeker policies; and debate over a proposed "super profits" tax on the mining industry.[57]

The United States diplomatic cables leaks reveal that Robert McCallum, the former US ambassador to Australia, described Rudd as a ‘control freak’ and ‘a micro-manager’ obsessed with managing the media cycle rather than engaging in collaborative decision making". Diplomats also criticised Rudd's foreign policy record and considered Rudd's ‘missteps’ largely arose from his propensity to make ‘snap announcements without consulting other countries or within the Australian government’.[58]

On 23 June 2010, following significant media speculation and after it became apparent Rudd had lost the support of key factional heads within the Labor Party, deputy prime minister Julia Gillard requested a leadership ballot for the following day, which Rudd announced he would himself contest.[59][60]


In opposition, Rudd called climate change "the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time" and called for a cut to greenhouse gas emissions by 60% before 2050.[61] On 3 December 2007, as his first official act after being sworn in, Rudd signed the Kyoto Protocol.[62] On 15 December 2008, Rudd released a White Paper on reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.[63] The White Paper included a plan to introduce an emissions trading scheme in 2010 that is known as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and gave a target range for Australia's greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 of between 5% and 15% less than 2000 levels.[63] The White Paper was criticised by the Federal Government's climate change advisor, Professor Ross Garnaut.[64] Rudd criticised the opposition Liberal Party for its refusal to support the new legislation ("What absolute political cowardice, what absolute failure of leadership, what absolute failure of logic ...")[65] but on 4 May 2009 announced that the Government would delay implementing an emissions trading scheme until 2011. Rudd also deferred the CPRS legislation until 2013.[66][67]

Rudd was unable to achieve any significant action on a national response to climate change, and abandoned his vision in the face of political opposition.[68][69][70] Many of Rudd's minor climate change initiatives were scrapped or slashed by Julia Gillard.[71]. However he did implement an expanded mandatory renewable energy target with coalition support.[72]

Iraq War

In accordance with a Multinational Force Iraq agreement with the new Iraqi Government,[73] Labor's plan to withdraw the Australian Defence Force "combat" contingent was completed on 28 July 2009, three days ahead of the deadline.[74] In mid-2010, there were about 65 ADF personnel remaining in Iraq supporting UN operations or the Australian Embassy.[75]

Afghanistan War

While shadow minister for foreign affairs, Rudd said that Afghanistan was 'terrorism central'. In July 2005 he said:

It's time to recognise once and for all that terrorism central is Afghanistan. You see, a lot of Jemaah Islamiah's terrorist operations in South East Asia are financed by the reconstitution of the opium crop in Afghanistan – $2.3 billion a year worth of narco-finance flowing out of Afghanistan into terrorist groups here in our region, our neighbourhood, our backyard.[76]

As Prime Minister, Rudd has continued to support Australian military involvement in Afghanistan, despite the growing number of Australian casualties. On 29 April 2009, Rudd committed 450 extra troops to the region bringing the total to 1550.[77] Explaining the deployment he said:

A measured increase in Australian forces in Afghanistan will enhance the security of Australian citizens, given that so many terrorists attacking Australians in the past have been trained in Afghanistan.

On a November 2009 visit to Afghanistan, Rudd told Australian troops: "We from Australia will remain for the long haul."[78] In April 2010, the Australian Government decided not to commit further troops to Uruzgan province to replace Dutch forces when they withdraw, but increased the numbers of diplomatic, development aid, and police personnel to around 50 with military effort and civilian work focussed on Uruzgan.[79]

The United States diplomatic cables leak reported Rudd's criticisms of Australia's European allies in the Afghanistan campaign.

Domestic policies

Parliamentary apology to the Stolen Generations

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

As the parliament's first order of business, on 13 February 2008, Rudd read an apology directed to Indigenous Australians for the stolen generations. The apology, for the policies of successive parliaments and governments, passed unanimously as a motion by both houses of parliament.[80] Rudd pledged the government to bridging the gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australian health, education and living conditions, and in a way that respects their rights to self-determination.[81] During meetings held in December 2007 and March 2008 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) adopted six targets to improve the wellbeing of Indigenous Australians over the next five to twenty years. As of late 2011, data on changes since 2008 in relation to most of these targets was not yet available.[82]

Industrial relations

WorkChoices, the industrial relations regime introduced by the Howard government, was overhauled.[83] Rudd's 2007 policy included the phasing out of Australian Workplace Agreements over a period of 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. It retained the illegality of secondary boycotts, the right of employers to lock workers out, restriction of a union right of entry to workplaces, and restrictions on workers' right to strike.[84] Rudd also established a single industrial relations bureaucracy called Fair Work Australia, designed to play a far more interventionist role than the Howard Government's Fair Pay Commission.[85] Fair Work Australia mediated the 2011 Qantas industrial disputes.


  Kevin Rudd (back row, fourth from right) at the G-20 Leaders Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy.
See also: 2008 Australian federal budget, 2009 Australian federal budget

In his first speech to parliament, Rudd affirmed his general belief in competitive markets, while repudiating Thatcherism and supporting the Third Way.[86] Rudd is critical of free market economists such as Friedrich Hayek,[87] 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.[88]

Upon election to office, the Rudd government announced a five point plan to combat inflation.[89] The first budget of the Rudd government was delivered by Treasurer Wayne Swan in May 2008 and a projected surplus of $21.7 billion was announced.[90] As the global recession began to take hold, the Government guaranteed bank deposits and announced two stimulatory spending packages.[91] The first was worth $10.4 billion and announced in late 2008,[92] and the second worth $42 billion was announced in February 2009 and included $900 dollar cash payments to resident taxpayers who paid net tax in the 2007–08 financial year.[93] After initially raising interest rates to combat inflation, The Reserve Bank cut official interest rates several times in increments of up to 1 percent, and fell to 3 percent in May 2009, the lowest since 1960.[94] The second budget, released in May 2009, projected a $57.6 billion deficit for 2009–10. The majority of the deficit was created by a loss of taxation revenue as a result of the recession, with the rest made up in stimulus and other spending. The downturn was expected to remove $210 billion in taxation revenue from the budget over the next four years.[95]

Following the start of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, increased exports and consumer spending helped the Australian economy avoid recession in 2009. Australia was the only western economy to do so.[96]

In early 2009,[97] in the wake of the global financial crisis,[98] Rudd stated "that the great neo-liberal experiment of the past 30 years has failed", and that "Neo-liberalism and the free-market fundamentalism it has produced has been revealed as little more than personal greed dressed up as an economic philosophy. And, ironically, it now falls to social democracy to prevent liberal capitalism from cannibalising itself." Rudd called for a new era of "social capitalism" from social democrats such as himself and U.S. President Barack Obama to "support a global financial system that properly balances private incentive with public responsibility".[99]

As part of its economic stimulus program, the government offered householders a rebate for ceiling insulation. Rudd demoted Peter Garrett, the minister responsible for the program, before abandoning the program altogether in 2010 after the scheme was blamed for house fires and 4 deaths.[100] The Building the Education Revolution program sought to stimulate the nationwide economy by employing construction workers in school building developments, but came under media scrutiny following allegations of overpricing and bad value for money.[101]

The Rudd Government's third budget in 2010 projected a $40.8 billion deficit for 2010–11[102] but forecast that Australia would return to surplus by 2012–13. The government proposed a "super profits" tax on the mining industry and included $12 billion in revenue from the proposal in the forecast, although the tax had not been passed by the Senate.[103]

Australia 2020 Summit

In February 2008 Rudd announced the Australia 2020 Summit, held from 19–20 April 2008, which brought together 1000 leading Australians to discuss ten major areas of policy innovation.[104] Among the initiatives supported at the event, the summit voted in favour of a plebiscite on Australia "relinquishing ties" to the United Kingdom followed by a referendum on the model for an Australian republic,[105] a bill of rights, the re-formation of an Indigenous peak representative body similar to ATSIC, (which had been abolished by the Howard Government), the introduction of an Emissions Trading Scheme, and a review of the taxation system.[106]

Findings released in April 2009 reported that nine out of the 1000 submitted ideas were to be immediately enacted and that the government was deliberating on other ideas proposed.[107] By mid-2010, among the key reform ideas suggested, Prime Minister Rudd had sought to introduce an ETS, but postponed it after failing to secure passage through the senate;[108] formed a consultative committee on a Bill of Rights then rejected its recommendation for implementation;[109] established the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples in 2010;[110] commissioned the Henry Review of taxation (on the basis of which the Rudd Government proposed a new "super-profits" tax on mining);[111] and Rudd had described the issue of a vote on a republic as not being "a priority".[112]


During the election, Rudd promised a "Digital Education Revolution", including provision of a computer on the desk of every upper secondary student. The program initially stalled with state governments asserting that the proposed funding was inadequate. The federal government increased proposed funding from $1.2 billion to $2 billion,[113] and did not mandate that a computer be provided to each upper secondary student.[114] The program supplied office software, photo and video editing software, and web design software, some of it unusable due to the hardware becoming obsolete.[115]


As Prime Minister, Rudd professed his belief in a "Big Australia",[116] while his government increased the immigration quota after to around 300,000 people.[117] In 2010, Rudd appointed Tony Burke as population minister to examine population goals.[118]

In 2008, the government adjusted the mandatory detention policies established by the Keating and Howard governments and declared an end to the Pacific Solution.[119] Boat arrivals increased considerably during 2009 and the Opposition said this was due to the government's policy adjustments, the Government said it was due to "push factors".[120] After a fatal explosion on an asylum seeker boat in April 2009, Rudd said: "People smugglers are the vilest form of human life." Opposition frontbencher Tony Abbott said that Kevin Rudd was inept and hypocritical in his handling of the issue during the Oceanic Viking affair of October 2009.[121] In April 2010, the Rudd government suspended processing new claims by Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers, who comprised 80 per cent of all boat arrivals, for three and six months respectively.[122]


Rudd commissioned the Henry Tax Review, to undertake a "root and branch" review of the Australian taxation system. In 2010, the Rudd government pursued its proposal for a new 40% tax on the "super profits" of resource companies to offset a lower corporate tax rate and some adjustments to superannuation.[111][123] In the face of strong opposition from the mining industry, the government exempted itself from its own guidelines on taxpayer-funded advertising and launched an advertising campaign in support of its tax policy proposal.[124] During the 2007 election campaign, Rudd had described tax payer funded political advertising as "a long-term cancer on our democracy", but he said that a government funded campaign was needed in 2010 on this issue.[125]


Rudd announced a significant and far-reaching strategic reform to Australian healthcare in 2010.[126] However, this was not pursued beyond in-principle agreements with Labor State and Territory governments, and was scrapped by Julia Gillard during her first year in office.[127][128]

Political positions

Nationhood and foreign policy

  Rudd (left) and US President George W. Bush (right) meet at APEC Australia 2007 in Sydney.
  Rudd (left) and US President Barack Obama (right) meet in Washington DC.

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.[129]

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 was also in favour of Australia's military presence in Afghanistan.[130]

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.[131]

As Prime Minister, he also pledged support for East Timor, stating that Australian troops would remain in East Timor for as long as East Timor's government wanted them to.[132]

Rudd also gave his support for the independence of Kosovo from Serbia,[133] before Australia officially recognised the republic.[134] This decision sparked protests of the Serbian Australian community against Rudd.[135]

In 2008 Rudd recommended the appointment of Quentin Bryce as the first female Governor-General of Australia to Queen Elizabeth II.

Society and religion

Some commentators have described Rudd as a social conservative.[136][137] While moving to remove financial discrimination against LGBT couples, he has remained opposed to same-sex marriage:[138]

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.[138]

In a conscience vote in 2006, Rudd supported legislation to transfer regulatory authority for the abortion-inducing drug RU486 from the federal Minister For Health to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, removing the minister's veto on the use of RU486 in Australia. Rudd said that "For me and for the reasons I have outlined, the life of the unborn is of great importance. And having tested these reasons with men and women of faith, and men and women of science, that I've decided not to oppose this bill. "[139]

In another 2006 Parliamentary conscience vote, Mr Rudd voted against legislation to expand embryonic stem cell research[140]

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.[9] In December 2009, Rudd was spotted at a Catholic Mass to commemorate the canonisation of Mary MacKillop, in which he was administered with the Holy Communion. Rudd's actions provoked criticism and debate among both among political and religious circles.[141] A report by The Australian quoted that Rudd embraced Anglicanism but at the same time did not formally renounce his Catholic faith.[142]

Rudd is the mainstay of the parliamentary prayer group in Parliament House, Canberra.[143] He is vocal about his Christianity and has given a number of prominent interviews to the Australian religious press on the topic.[144] Rudd has defended church representatives engaging with policy debates, particularly with respect to WorkChoices legislation, climate change, global poverty, therapeutic cloning and asylum seekers.[145] In an essay in The Monthly,[145] he argued:

A [truly] 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.

He cites Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a personal inspiration in this regard.[146]

In May 2008, Rudd was drawn into the controversy over photographic artist Bill Henson and his work depicting naked adolescents as part of a show due to open at an inner-city gallery in Sydney. In a televised interview, Rudd stated that he found the images "absolutely revolting"[147] and that they had "no artistic merit".[148] These views swiftly drew censure from members of the 'creative stream' who attended the recent 2020 Summit convened by Rudd, led by actor Cate Blanchett.[149]

When in Canberra, Rudd and Rein worship at St John the Baptist Church, Reid, where they were married.[6] Rudd often does a "door stop" interview for the media when leaving the church yard.[150]

Removal as Prime Minister

Leadership challenge and resignation

  Bronze bust of Kevin Rudd at the Prime Minister's Avenue at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.

On 23 June 2010, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Rudd's chief of staff, Alister Jordan, had talked to over half the Labor caucus to gauge the level of Rudd's support within the party. This followed significant media speculation that his deputy, Julia Gillard, would attempt a leadership challenge.[151] Late that evening, after it became clear he had lost the support of key factional leaders, Rudd announced that a leadership ballot would take place between himself and Gillard on 24 June, which he would be contesting.[152] At the meeting, it was clear that Gillard had the numbers to win and Rudd opted not to contest, stepping down as both party leader and Prime Minister.[153] Rudd was not included in Gillard's reshuffled ministry, though she committed to appoint him to a senior cabinet position if the Labor Party was re-elected.[154]

Following the leadership challenge, Bill Shorten, the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services and key Parliamentary member of the Labor Party's Right faction, nominated the government's handling of the insulation program; the sudden announcement of change of policy on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme; and the way in which they had "introduced the debate" about the Resource Super Profits Tax as the key considerations which had led to a collapse in support for Rudd's leadership of the party.[155][156][157][158][159][160]

Barry Cohen, a former minister in the Hawke government, said that many in the Labor party caucus felt ignored by Rudd's centralist leadership style, and his at times insulting and rude treatment of staff and other ministers. Many were willing to overlook this due to his immense popularity, but when Rudd's poll numbers began to drop in late 2009 and 2010, they wanted to install a leader more able to establish consensus and involve the party caucus as a whole.[161] Rudd is the first Australian Prime Minister to be removed from office by his own party during his first term.[162]

2010 campaign

Rudd recontested his seat of Griffith for the 2010 federal election on 21 August. He began his election campaign with only local appearances. Early in the campaign, he suffered abdominal pain and underwent surgery to remove his gall bladder.[163] His first public statements after the operation were in an interview[164] with ABC Radio National's Phillip Adams for Late Night Live, receiving wide national coverage;[165] in it, he denied being the source of the political leaks concerning Julia Gillard. Upon a request from Prime Minister Gillard, Rudd later agreed to join the 2010 national campaign in order to boost the Labor government's chances of re-election.[162] Rudd and Gillard appeared together during a private meeting in Brisbane, both appearing uncomfortable, unsmiling and unspeaking.[166]

Foreign Minister

  Rudd with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in September 2010

Rudd was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Gillard government and was sworn into this position on 14 September 2010.[167][168] He represented Gillard at a UN General Assembly meeting in September 2010.[169]

Material relating to Kevin Rudd's term as prime minister was included in the United States diplomatic cables leaks released en masse by Wikileaks in 2010. As foreign minister, Rudd denounced the publication of classified documents by wikileaks. The Australian media extensively reported purported references to Rudd in the cables — including frank discussions between Rudd and US officials regarding China and Afghanistan; and negative assessments of some of Rudd's foreign policy initiatives and leadership style, written in confidence for the US government by the US Ambassador to Australia.[170][171][172]

Prior to his December 2010 visit to Israel, Rudd informed the The Australian newspaper of a new policy position on Israeli nuclear facilities, saying that they should be subject to International Atomic Energy Agency inspection.[173] Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected the call.[174]

Following the 2011 Egyptian revolution and resignation of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Rudd called for "constitutional reform and a clear timetable towards free and fair elections".[175]

In response to the 2011 Libyan civil war, Rudd announced in early March 2011 that a no-fly zone should be enforced by the international community as a "lesser of two evils" to prevent dictator Muammar Gaddafi from using the Libyan airforce to attack protesters and rebels. The Age and other media outlets reported this as representing a rift between Rudd and Prime Minister Gillard, and said that US officials in Canberra had sought official clarification on what the Australian government was proposing. Speaking from Washington, Ms Gillard said in response that the United Nations Security Council should consider a "full range" of options to deal with the situation, and that Australia was not planning to send forces to enforce a no-fly zone.[176]

Following the devastating 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Rudd announced that in his conversation with Japanese foreign minister Takeaki Matsumoto, he had offered Australian field hospitals and disaster victim identification teams to assist with recovery. He also said he had offered Australian atomic expertise and requested urgent briefings following an explosion at a nuclear plant, telling ABC TV: "We and the rest of the international community need urgent briefings on the precise status of these reactors".[177]

Rudd announced his resignation as Foreign Minister on 22 February 2012, citing a lack of support from Julia Gillard and character attacks launched by Simon Crean and "a number of other faceless men" as the catalyst for stepping down.[178][179] Speaking to the press in an early morning (1:30 am) news conference in Washington D.C., Rudd explained his decision to leave cabinet saying, "I can only serve as Foreign Minister if I have the confidence of Prime Minister Gillard and her senior ministers." The resignation occurred following heated speculation about a possible leadership spill.[3] On 23 February 2012, Rudd was replaced as Minister for Foreign Affairs by Craig Emerson (on an acting basis),[180] and then by former NSW Premier and new Senator Bob Carr on 13 March.

2012 leadership spill

Speculation as to Rudd's desire to return to the leadership of the Labor Party became a near constant feature of media commentary on the Gillard Government. Minority government complicated Labor's response to the issue. In October 2011, Queensland backbencher Graham Perrett announced that if Labor replaced Gillard with Rudd, he would resign and force a by-election—a move which could cost Labor government.[181] At Labor's 2011 conference in Sydney, Prime Minister Gillard mentioned every Labor Prime Minister since World War II with the exception of Kevin Rudd.[182] The speech was widely reported as a snub to Rudd.[183] In early 2012, Labor frontbenchers began to discuss the issue of leadership publicly—Simon Crean told radio 3AW, "[Rudd] can't be leader again... People will not elect as leaders those they don't perceive as team players".[184]

Following a Four Corners program that revisited Gillard's role in the 2010 replacement of Rudd as Prime Minister, a break down in party discipline saw Labor MP Darren Cheeseman call on Gillard to resign, while his colleague Steve Gibbons called Rudd a "psychopath with a giant ego".[185] Amidst the controversy, an expletive laden video of out-takes of an intemperate Kevin Rudd attempting to record a Chinese language message during his time as Prime Minister was released anonymously on YouTube, apparently aimed at discrediting his push for the leadership.[185] While Rudd said publicly only that he was "happy as foreign minister", media commentators widely declared that a leadership challenge was "on".[186]

When Rudd resigned on 22 February 2012, the Deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan, lambasted Rudd as "dysfunctional"; cabinet colleague Tony Burke also spoke against Rudd, saying of his time in office that "the stories that were around of the chaos, of the temperament, of the inability to have decisions made, they are not stories"[187][188][189] Labor Senator Doug Cameron came out in support of Rudd and called on his colleagues to show him respect.[190]

Later that day, Rudd said that he did not think Gillard could defeat the Coalition in the next election and that, since his resignation, he had received encouragement from Labor members and cabinet ministers to contest the leadership.[191]

Gillard responded to the developments by announcing a leadership ballot for the morning of 27 February 2012 and that she would renominate for the Labor Party leadership.[192] On 24 February 2012, Rudd announced that he intended to challenge the leadership.[4] Before the ballot, Rudd promised not to initiate any further leadership challenges against Gillard should he lose, but did not rule out being drafted as Labor leader at a later date.[193]

Gillard won the subsequent spill with 71 votes to Rudd's 31.[194] Following the ballot Rudd reiterated that he would not mount another challenge against Gillard, and stated that he would support her if anyone else challenged for the leadership.[195]

Heart operation

On 20 July 2011, Rudd announced that he was to undergo heart surgery in early August, to replace his aortic valve, a similar operation to the one he had some 20 years before, as that valve was now wearing out. In a tweet soon after the press conference, he said that he hoped people would have "a chat about importance of organ donation."[196]

See also


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External links

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Graeme McDougall
Member of Parliament for Griffith
Party political offices
Preceded by
Kim Beazley
Leader of the Labor Party
Succeeded by
Julia Gillard
Political offices
Preceded by
Kim Beazley
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Brendan Nelson
Preceded by
John Howard
Prime Minister of Australia
Succeeded by
Julia Gillard
Preceded by
Stephen Smith
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Bob Carr


All translations of Kevin_Rudd

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