CANBERRA – Kevin Rudd has officially sought the support of the Australian government in his bid to become Secretary General of the United Nations.
A letter of nomination from the government is required for Mr Rudd to be able to begin his campaign and foreign minister Julie Bishop said that it will be a matter for the cabinet.
“A nomination is not an endorsement,” she also said.
While public support for the former PM has risen up to 46%, according to a Lowy Institute poll, the nomination request has divided the Coalition.
Several MPs have spoken out against the former Labor leader, despite Mr Rudd receiving high profile endorsements from international figures, including diplomats and politicians.
South Australian MP Tony Pasin said Kevin Rudd “did his best to ruin our country”, while immigration minister Peter Dutton likened Mr Rudd’s ego to US presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“Kevin was never happy just running Australia, he believed he was always destined to run the world,” said Mr Dutton.
Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi warned the Coalition against supporting Mr Rudd saying he is “unfit” for the job and labelling his time as prime minister as “disastrous.”
“While Rudd is unlikely to win the position, how in good conscience, having lived through the Rudd leadership and destabilisation, can any of us suggest he is fit for the role he seeks,” he said.
Mr Rudd’s own party is also divided on the matter, however Labor’s leader Bill Shorten said Mr Rudd was “suitably qualified” and urged that it was within “national interest” for the Coalition to support him.
“If it’s an Australian government, it will support the Australian. If it’s a Liberal government, it won’t back the Australian because of petty political reasons. Australians have had enough of that,” he said.
A total of 12 representatives have been nominated already and although it is necessary Mr Rudd receives a written nomination from the government, it is unlikely they will endorse his actual campaign.
Mr Rudd has been garnering international support for over 12 months but says he respects the Australian government’s internal processes.
“He also respects the fact that the government has many other priorities at this time, having just been returned to office,” said Mr Rudd’s spokesperson.
Mr Rudd faces a tough battle for the top job if he is nominated.
It has long been considered the UN follows a rotation system and Eastern Europe is set to have its leading term, with several strong candidates including Bulgarian head of UNESCO, Irina Bukova and former Slovenian president Donald Turk.
Mr Rudd will also have to rely on the vetoing powers of the UN’s permanent members to remove some key frontrunners, due to continuing tensions between the European powers.
Mr Rudd is currently president of the Asia Society Policy and holds positions at various international NGOs, which have brought him strong connections with international diplomats.
The former PM said he is being “utterly pragmatic” in assessing his chances.
The government is expected to discuss his nomination during cabinet meetings this week.
– Viki Gerova, Correspondent (Oceania)