Tuesday 20 February 2018

Former premier Kevin Rudd seeks Aussie nomination to be UN top dog

Kevin Rudd wants to succeed Ban Ki-moon as United Nations secretary general
Kevin Rudd wants to succeed Ban Ki-moon as United Nations secretary general

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd is making a late bid for the United Nations' top post after months of criss-crossing the world in low-key lobbying for government support.

Mr Rudd had requested that the Australian government take the crucial step of formally nominating him to succeed UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, whose second five-year term ends on December 31.

Foreign minister Julie Bishop said that decision would be made by Australia's next cabinet, which will be named on Monday following July 2 elections and sworn in as early as Tuesday.

Mr Rudd, the New York-based president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, said he understood his nomination might not be among the government's highest priorities after barely scraping back into power in an unexpectedly close general election.

"I respect the fact that the government has many other priorities at this time, having just been returned to office," he said on his Facebook page.

"This is a matter for the prime minister, the foreign minister and their colleagues at a time of their choosing."

Mr Rudd, 58, was elected prime minister in 2007, but was dumped by his own centre-left Labor Party in 2010. He was dubbed Recycled Rudd when he regained the control of the chaotic and divided government weeks before it lost elections in 2013.

He has been canvasing diplomatic support around the world for months, although Ms Bishop became the first to confirm his plans to be a candidate.

But several MPs in Australia's conservative government are openly hostile towards his bid.

"Kevin was never happy just running Australia - he believed he was always destined to run the world," immigration minister Peter Dutton said in April.

"Kevin's ego makes (presumptive Republican US presidential nominee) Donald Trump's look like a rounding error."

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said only petty politics would prevent the government from nominating a former political opponent.

"If they're going to be a government for all Australians, they'll support the Australian on the international stage," he said.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had advised the government that Mr Rudd's chances would be harmed if he did not gain the crucial nomination by the end of July, The Australian newspaper reported on Monday.

Mr Rudd is a Chinese-speaking former diplomat who served as Australia's foreign minister between his stints as prime minister.

He was a polarising figure within his government, with some former ministers swearing they would never work with his again because of his chaotic management style.

Press Association

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