Kevin Rudd caught the public imagination in 2007 and a rode a mood for change all the way to the most powerful job in Australia. But no sooner had he moved into the Lodge than the global financial crisis struck and his prime ministership began to unravel following a series of policy missteps.
He was swiftly removed from office by party powerbrokers in 2010, but with a long campaign of damaging back-room manoeuvring, he lived to fight another election as prime minister. Now that Mr Rudd has called time on his work in the Australian parliament, it’s time to look back on the political life of Australia’s 26th – and for a short time, 28th – prime minister.
Born: 21 September 1957, the youngest of four children, to Albert and Margaret Rudd. According to the National Archives, he is descended from convict Mary Wade, transported to New South Wales in 1789 at the age of 11.
At age 15 Kevin Rudd joins the Australian Labor Party.
6.06pm, Parliament House, Canberra, 11 November. After being elected the Member for Griffith, Kevin Rudd delivers his maiden speech.
“Politics is about power,” he starts, before speaking about economics, the death of his father, the importance of a social safety net, the role of education and foreign policy. And towards the end of the 3241 word speech, he even manages to squeeze in a mention of the people he is in Canberra to represent.
Labor’s electoral defeat is a win for Rudd. He is promoted to the shadow cabinet in the high-profile foreign affairs role. (As Prime Minister, Rudd’s love of travel and diplomacy would see him labelled ‘Kevin 747’, a play on the nickname he took to the polls in – ‘Kevin07’.)
Rudd joins Sunrise. This spot alongside Mel and Kochie with Joe Hockey kickstarts the phenomenon that would become Kevin07. It was the start of his pitch to the people. Here’s a clip from before the federal election in 2004.
Rudd’s profile continues to rise, but like many politicians around the world, he listens to the wrong people on Iraq:
“There is no debate or dispute as to whether Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction,” he told ABC’s Lateline. “He does. There’s no dispute as whether he’s in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. He is.”
After Mark Latham resigns there is speculation Rudd will run. He does not and Beazely is elected unopposed.
Opinion polls suggest suggest support for Labor would double under Rudd. On 4 December, Beazley calls a vote and kevin Rudd takes the mantle as Labor leader less than a year before the next election. Julia Gillard is elected his deputy unopposed.
August. As opinion poll after opinion poll points to a Labor victory at the looming election, news breaks that Rudd visited a strip club – Scores – in New York in 2003. When Scores got new owners, Mr Rudd was invited back in 2009 with wife Therese Rein. He declined.
A video emerges of Kevin Rudd eating his own earwax. The video below says it all:
24 November, 2007
Kevin Rudd leads the ALP to election victory, wresting power from Australia’s second-longest serving prime minister, John Howard.
The courage to say sorry will be marked in history as one of Mr Rudd’s defining moments as Prime Minister.
Kevin Rudd joins Twitter. A social media star is born.
Australian PM Kevin Rudd Joins Twitter http://tinyurl.com/6644eh
— Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki) November 13, 2008
24 June, 2010
Rudd is removed from office by his own teammates, joining Robert Menzies as one of just two Australian prime ministers to be removed from office by their own party. Again, this is a story best told by Taiwanese animators.
And from KRudd himself.
Oh look. There’s the calm, composed Mr Rudd. F***. Wait. What? Kevin Rudd’s non-spoof, expletive laden tirade had everyone giggling behind their hands. Those poor embassy d***heads. WARNING: Explicit language.
Simon Crean, working as the advance party, calls a spill, and Julia Gillard does her part. But Mr Rudd fails to join the party when it becomes clear he doesn’t have the numbers.
26 June, 2013
Three years and two days since he was last prime minister, Kevin Rudd deposes his deposer and is reinstated as ALP leader and prime minister. And just in case Australia couldn’t work out the spill on its own, the Taiwanese also made a come back with an animated explainer.
Election campaign, 2013
A man of the people, KRudd loves a selfie.
September 7 – Election day.
It was all too predictable. Kevin Rudd was removed from office after a campaign which sputtered and faltered, but succeeded in protecting the ALP from an electoral wipeout. Prime Minister-elect and Tony Abbott accepted the verdict of the people and prepared to move, daughters in tow, into the Lodge. Mr Rudd was even gracious enough to give the new PM a tour.
November 13, 2013
“Gotta zip!” Rudd retires in an emotional speech to parliament, calling to end one of the most dramatic political careers Australia has known.