Entertainment Books Kevin Rudd had serious doubts about his iconic ‘Kevin07’ slogan
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Kevin Rudd had serious doubts about his iconic ‘Kevin07’ slogan

Kevin Rudd
Kevin Rudd was perhaps the last person to get on board the Kevin07 train. Photo: AAP
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It helped catapult him to the prime ministership, but Kevin Rudd’s serious side couldn’t really grasp his own election catchphrase.

Speaking on the phone from New York, where he and entrepreneurial wife Thérèse Rein now live part of the year while he heads up the Asia Society Policy Institute, Mr Rudd has an unusual admission for The New Daily.

It’s the spectre of his now-famous Kevin07 campaign slogan which Mr Rudd, 60, admits he didn’t really like.

While the slogan rocketed him to household name status, Mr Rudd – whose son Nicholas helped him embrace social media for the first time in Australian politics – admits he wasn’t on board initially.

“I was seriously horrified one morning when I saw on television all these young people marching past Parliament House wearing Kevin07 t-shirts,” says Mr Rudd. “And I brought key staff together and said ‘whose idea was this?’

“They all sheepishly looked at each other, but of course they were right and I was wrong, and it turned out to be a very successful campaign.”

Chuckling as he recalls his recalcitrance, Mr Rudd is now campaigning again, but on a different front. Ten years on from his election to Australia’s top political job, he’s promoting his memoir Not For The Faint-hearted – and sticking the boot into the current PM while he’s at it.

“With Mr [Malcolm] Turnbull, the greatest single example of his failure to deliver has been his butchery of a national project of deep significance to all Australians,” Mr Rudd tells The New Daily.

“And that is a high-speed national broadband network across the country.”

Mr Rudd, commended for his apology to the Stolen Generations, adds Mr Turnbull has also failed on the question of indigenous reconciliation.

“The contempt with which he responded to the Uluru statement was beyond belief. I said recently that the task of reconciliation in Australia is a delicate, fragile one that requires careful and considered national leadership. Turnbull’s core problem is that as soon as he encounters a little bit of political rough water, he abandons ship.”

Though the looming heartache with successor Julia Gillard is hinted at, the 674-page book does not address it directly. The 2010 coup is yet to come – in volume two.

Instead Mr Rudd addresses at length the hardship his family faced following the early death of his sometimes-abusive father two months after a drunken car crash.

Mr Rudd’s admiration for his late mother is one of the memoir’s most affecting through-lines, with the pair forced to sleep in their car after losing the family farm.

“My mother raised me, and she was a strong woman. I married a strong woman. Our oldest child [Jessica] is a strong woman. And this I have regarded as not exotic.”

Mr Rudd went on to hold the record for appointing the highest number of women to cabinet.

As for the future of Australian politics, which Mr Rudd describes as “cancerous” at the moment, what does he makes of speculation Peter Dutton could one day become prime minister?

“He is a person of no vision. He is a vicious political operator. It is not within his DNA to unite … He is mean-spirited by nature … of the current array of political offerings from the conservative side of politics, he would be the least qualified.”

Not For the Faint-hearted, by Kevin Rudd, is out now from Pan Macmillan Australia.

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