In a classic piece of understatement on the weekend, the SMH described comments by Therese Rein about her husband’s political future as “her first public comments hinting which way the couple might lean.”
As “hints” go, this one was about as subtle as a slap in the face with a wet fish. Asked if she would support Kevin Rudd’s return to The Lodge Rein said:
‘‘Is it [supporting him in that role again] something I would do? I don’t know. But if I ever agreed to do that, it would be on the proviso that it was completely about the country, the national good, Australia’s place in the world and the people who have, over many years now, told me, ‘Look, we’re vulnerable on this or we’re hurting on that, and things need to be better.’‘’
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Kevin Rudd is on a plane, which makes it hard to campaign for the prime ministership. So in the absence of media attention today he’s relied on the two most important women in his life - his wife Therese Rein, and his daughter Jessica Rudd.
Rein did a doorstop just after Julia Gillard’s press conference today where the former first lady urged people to call their local ALP member and tell them who to vote for in next Monday’s Caucus ballot. But tonight Ms Rudd made an even more unorthodox intervention in the bloody battle.
Writing on the website Mamamia, Jessica Rudd donned some literary pom poms and cheered on readers to “Tweet something. Rant on Facebook. Put a video on YouTube. Put a sign on your front fence. Have a chat with your neighbour. Tell your friends. Email your local MP. Ring them up. Stop them at the news agent and make them listen. Call your local radio station. Have a rally Vote in an online poll. Write a song about it. Get on Mamamia and say, ‘OMG she’s just saying that because she’s KRudd’s daughter.’”
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There’s an old saying that goes something like this: behind every moderately successful man is an incredibly talented woman who has completely buggered her own professional life to accommodate her husband.
I’m thinking here of Therese Rein, who made a remarkable personal sacrifice to make way for her husband’s career, only to watch that career amount to pretty much nought in record time.
In that same space of time, Therese Rein went from being the owner of a highly successful and rapidly expanding employment business, to the former owner of a highly successful and rapidly expanding employment business. She offloaded her domestic interest in the recruitment and placement firm Ingeus because of the potential conflict it created for her husband’s career, and also because of the political embarrassment he suffered through the revelation that she had inadvertently underpaid 58 of her staff, who were employed on non-union contracts.
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Before indulging in a teeny-weeny bit of sympathy for celebrities whose private lives are flayed open for the public to feast on, spare a thought for what global leaders and their spouses have to endure.
If it’s not the Italian stallion, Silvio Berlusconi having flings with escorts, or holding frivolous parties, prompting calls he should be put out to pasture (from everyone and everywhere but his actual Italian constituents), or Vladamir Putin rising out the water, James Bond-esque, in budgie smugglers and with a well-toned body that defies his age, making world headlines, then it’s what the partners of these leaders are wearing.
In fact, when it comes to powerful women and/or the female spouses of Presidents and Prime Ministers, the fashion police are criminally biased.
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While Kevin Rudd has never been media-shy (quite the opposite, what with his Twittering, website and blog), it seems his wife, Therese Rein, is finally ready for her close-up.
Back in May, I wrote ‘Rein Priming for Mag cover?’, suggesting that the likelihood of Rein appearing on the cover of an Aussie glossy was “about as likely as Susan Boyle landing the cover of British Vogue”. In the glossy media world, a picture of perfection sounds louder than a CV full of personal achievements, after all.
At the time, the media was going bananas over Rein’s apparent weight loss, which culminated in Woman’s Day bringing her down to gossip magazine level, publishing unflattering and unauthorised pictures of her exercising in her gym gear after the magazine was reportedly refused an interview.
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Well, not quite. While it doesn’t compare to Fleet Street’s notorious hidden camera shot of Princess Diana pumping iron at a London gymnasium, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is apparently filthy that Woman’s Day has put a paparazzo on Therese Rein’s tail to chronicle her weight loss program.
It’s a story which goes to the heart of the privacy tensions within journalism - the difference between the public interest, and what the public is interested in.
It’s a story which will also confirm how the reading public has it both ways - illustrated most dramatically when the same people who bemoaned the media’s role in Diana’s death, were often the same ones who had every edition of Hello! magazine in chronological order at home.
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