Kevin Rudd, the backbencher from Queensland? No such thing. In his own mind, he’s still Foreign Minister. Prime Minister, too.
Rudd turned up in the United States last week and addressed the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. It’s a talk that should have been given by his replacement, Bob Carr.
If Australia knows that Rudd is no longer the Prime Minister, or Foreign Minister, the rest of the world does not. Because Rudd is still roaming it, acting as though he is.
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When Bob Carr prepared for a recent television appearance he stood in the middle of a room and loudly declaimed slabs of Shakespeare. Other guests for that evening’s edition of the ABC’s Q&A quietly continued munching their Turkish wraps and sipped drinks as the rich Carr baritone set sail on a chunk of Hamlet.
He was warming up that voice, long so distinctive in Australian politics. Bob Carr knows that drab politics, like drab TV, don’t get god ratings. He believes in theatre to sell a message and the Senate today will benefit from that.
Young Robbie, as Paul Keating used to call the man who now is an elder Labor statesman, this morning was preparing to be sworn in as a senator, and as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
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Julia Gillard says her Government colleagues will be delighted to learn Bob Carr is Foreign Minister, presumably after they get up from the floor.
It was a surprise, so stunning that it would have amounted to a shock for many players and observers.
The Prime Minister today sent a “don’t mess with me” message to critics within and outside the ALP by parading her star recruit.
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The Gillard prime ministership is like a badly scalded arm. The mildest touch can cause pain way out of proportion to the force behind the blow. Even when she does nothing unusual, remarkable or even particularly clumsy, the Government ends up screaming in agony.
So when Julia Gillard followed standard procedure by canvassing possible candidates for a Senate vacancy and for the post of Foreign Minister, there was an outcry over what was actually a light brush.
In broad terms, the suggestion is that Julia Gillard had decided former NSW Premier Bob Carr would fill the Senate slot and become Foreign Minister replacing Kevin Rudd, but was rolled by furious ministers led by Defence Minister Stephen Smith who wanted the job for himself.
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It’s hard to imagine a politician more comfortable with the convoluted parlance of international diplomacy than Kevin Rudd.
The freshly-minted Foreign Minister just held his first press conference to announce he’s zipping off to Pakistan enroute to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly Leaders’ Week (that’s “the UNGA” to the cool kids).
It was a very different Kevin Rudd to the surly-looking outcast at yesterday’s ministerial swearing-in ceremony (you can read Sam Maiden’s account of yesterday here.)
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