The things that natter: Downer’s full Rudd transcript
Alexander Downer has questioned The Sunday Telegraph’s treatment of his comments about Kevin Rudd, particularly the use of the word “double agent” to describe Downer’s claim that he used to leak Rudd information damaging to his opponents the Labor Party.
The newspaper has now released a full, unedited, transcript of the relevant section of the interview with journalist Claire Harvey, in which Mr Downer was very candid about Mr Rudd.
Claire Harvey: What intrigues me, in particular about the story about the Jakarta thing, and other people’s stories about Rudd’s temper, is that he didn’t seem to have any shyness about exposing his temper? You had no reason to protect him or to keep it a secret?
Alexander Downer: No, absolutely no, I don’t think he cares about that. He cares about getting publicity for himself. I suppose I would be regarded, as someone from the opposing political party, prima facie, I wouldn’t be regarded as a very reliable witness, so he wouldn’t really care what I said. Whereas if I was from the Labor Party it would be potentially more of a problem for him.
Claire Harvey: Mmm, mmm.
Alexander Downer: But you know I don’t think he thought it all through. It was just monstrously bad behaviour which demonstrated that – the fact is you get this – there were these stories – I don’t know if Julie Bishop tells these stories but - I sent him and Julie Bishop on a parliamentary delegation to Zimbabwe, he was using the c-word to her all the time. I mean you’re a woman, women don’t like that. There was all that sort of language that she found - she came back and complained to me about it. He might have been chairman of the caucus foreign affairs committee at the time. There was nothing I could do about it, I told her. But, you know, it was a pattern of bad behaviour. It wasn’t about party politics. It was a constant pattern of bad behaviour.
Claire Harvey: Mmm, mmm.
Alexander Downer: I was thinking also, about - He was so incredibly unprincipled. When he was chairman of the caucus committee, it reminds me, we used to use him mercilessly to embarrass Laurie Brereton. I mean, he was quite happy to – Laurie Brereton was – whatever, I don’t know, you like or didn’t like Laurie Brereton - personally I think Laurie Brereton’s a very competent and funny operator. But Rudd was happy to humiliate and embarrass him. We would give Rudd information to use against Brereton, and he would use it.
Claire Harvey: Mmm, mmm, so you would give him something and it would appear in Laurie Oakes’ column, or -?
Alexander Downer: Absolutely. I don’t think it was particularly Laurie Oakes because—we all know that he was close to Laurie, he cleaned his carpet or whatever in 1970.
The Sunday Telegraph telephoned Mr Downer and sent him a text message on Saturday July 31, reminding him that the story was to be published on Sunday August 1, and asking if he had specific details of stories he had used Mr Rudd to leak against Mr Brereton. Mr Downer simply replied: “Just general.”
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