Sunday, 24 January 2016

Kevin Rudd as Secretary-General

of the United Nations? 
I suspect there are quiet but frantic discussions going on over what to do if he does decide to nominate. The Australian government would be in a very awkward position indeed.
It is well known that the former Prime Minister has had his eye on the top UN job for some years. I suspect his original plan was to remain as Australian PM until the position became vacant and then nominate and step into the role. 
The Australian people thought otherwise. He was of course ousted by Gillard. Still determined he went on to be Foreign Minister - thus getting more "international" experience and contacts - and then, in the revolving door of Downunder politics, he ousted Gillard to return to the leadership and lose the election.
In office he could not keep staff. He was not known for being polite - and he was known for his temper. He was also known for his inability to express himself or, as a very senior public servant said to me, "I have never known anyone else who needs two minutes to say "no"."
It is said that one of his qualifications for the job is that he speaks "fluent Mandarin". One of our immediate neighbours is an interpreter and native speaker of Mandarin. I asked him once  how good Mr Rudd's Chinese really is. He thought about it for a moment and then said, perhaps rather carefully,  "He is able to make himself understood perhaps quite easily."  
I am not sure if Mr Rudd speaks French. I have not been able to find any reference to him doing so. He speaks a small amount of Swedish - as he should. He lived in Sweden for a time when he worked in Foreign Affairs. Speaking French is generally considered an essential on the international circuit. It is still a diplomatic language. 
You need negotiating skills. Mr Rudd lacks those. His managerial style is autocratic and dictatorial. I imagine his many international contacts heaved a sigh of relief when he was voted out of office - even those on his side of politics.
I imagine the Australian government is hoping he won't nominate. There was a very careful response from the current Foreign Minister,
       "Should Kevin Rudd nominate, then of course the Australian government would consider what sort of support he would require."
It was hardly an enthusiastic or ringing endorsement of the idea. 
Other Downunderites would be more likely to support Helen Clark, the former PM of New Zealand. Even those from Mr Rudd's own party would be likely to find her more acceptable and she is from the same side of politics.
But the next Secretary General is not likely to come from this region. It is more like that the next candidate with come from somewhere else altogether. Irina Bokova, the current Director-General of UNESCO is being touted as a possible candidate. Why not?
It would be good if they found a strong woman, someone with some real housekeeping experience who can start to clean up the mess they have swept under the carpet. 
I am not holding my breath.

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