Union leader and so-called “faceless man” Paul Howes has described Kevin Rudd as an extraordinary and talented individual but still says it was the right decision for Julia Gillard to replace him as prime minister.
In his first comments since Mr Rudd announced he was leaving parliament, the Australian Workers Union boss said it was appropriate to be generous about the former prime minister’s achievements.
“I agree that Kevin Rudd is an extraordinary individual and there is no doubt that his legacy will be felt for a long period of time,” he told Sky News on Sunday.
“Like a lot of unique individuals that you see in our national parliament, you never see their replacements.
“You never see another Bob Hawke, you never see another Paul Keating, we’ll never see another John Howard.”
However, Mr Howes was one of the men blamed for the 2010 coup against Mr Rudd and still backs the party’s decision to dump the first-term prime minister.
“Ultimately it was the right thing for the party to decide to give the leadership to Julia Gillard,” Mr Howes said.
“Over history, as time goes by and as the heat comes out of this debate, it will be proven to be the correct decision of the party.”