Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he will not be nominating Kevin Rudd to be the next secretary-general of the United Nations.
Speaking in Sydney today, Mr Turnbull said he had decided the former prime minister was not suitable for the role.
He said the Federal Government would not be nominating anyone for the role.
“When the Australian Government nominates a person for a job, particularly an international job like this, the threshold question is, ‘do we believe the person, the nominee, the would-be nominee is well suited for that position?'” he asked.
“My judgement is that Mr Rudd is not, and I’ve explained to him the reasons why.”
Mr Turnbull refused to be drawn on the reasons why he thought Mr Rudd was unsuitable for the role, or on whether his decision was about satisfying certain members of his party.
He said this decision was “far from the most important issue confronting the Government”.
Kevin Rudd critical of decision
MrRudd has released a series of letters in which he claims Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had promised to support his bid for the United Nations’ top job as recently as December.
Mr Rudd said he flew to Sydney to meet with the Prime Minister, but “Mr Turnbull telephoned Mr Rudd, indicating there was no opportunity for a meeting.”
On Friday evening a spokeswoman for Mr Rudd released three letters which Mr Rudd had sent to Mr Turnbull about the issue.
In one, dated May 1, 2016, Mr Rudd said he was shocked to learn Mr Turnbull would not be backing him, claiming he had expressed support as recently as December.
Mr Rudd’s spokeswoman said Mr Rudd had decided to release the letters because he believed Mr Turnbull was briefing reporters on his version of events.
“As you are aware, Mr Rudd had a conversation with Mr Turnbull this morning about Mr Rudd’s interest in becoming a candidate for UNSG,” she said.
“Mr Turnbull said he would not be supporting Mr Rudd for that position.
“He also asked Mr Rudd to keep the confidentiality of their conversations on this matter.
“In the interests of transparency”
“Mr Rudd has unfortunately now discovered that briefings are occurring conveying the Prime Minister’s version of events.
“In the interests of transparency Mr Rudd thinks it is far better that he release the three letters he sent Mr Turnbull on this issue over the past few months.”
Mr Rudd said in an earlier statement on Friday it was a “pity” the government had not seen fit to support him and that Mr Turnbull was only available for a phone call despite the two being in Sydney at the same time.
Mr Turnbull was briefing reporters
Mr Turnbull was briefing reporters
“It would have reflected well on what our nation can offer to the world – as a middle power with relationships across the world, including the developing world, smaller states, the Commonwealth, our Pacific Island friends and of course our partners in Asia,” Mr Rudd said.
The statement also thanked Ms Bishop for her support, adding: “Mr Rudd remains a fervent defender and advocate of the UN in these difficult times.”
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had pushed Mr Rudd’s case during yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, with support from Attorney-General George Brandis.
After the meeting said he alone would make a decision on the issue, after Cabinet failed to reach a clear decision.
‘Australia diminished’ by Turnbull’s weakness: Labor
Acting Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek slammed the decision, which she said undermined the authority of both Mr Turnbull and Ms Bishop.
Mr Rudd had previously received vocal support from former Liberal leader Brendan Nelson, though South Australian Liberal senator Cory Bernardi had urged his colleagues not to endorse a “dysfunctional”, “vengeful”, “unstable”, “megalomaniac” like Mr Rudd.
Senator Bernardi released a statement after Mr Turnbull made his announcement, congratulating the Prime Minister on his decision and saying: “Our participation in international institutions is more important than an individual’s ambition”.
Australia should back former NZ PM: Beazley
There are already 12 nominees for the position, including former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark.
Ms Clark has received support from the New Zealand Government, whose Prime Minister John Key has lobbied on her behalf and provided funding for her campaign.
Former Croatian minister of foreign and European affairs Vasna Pusic, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova, and Argentine Foreign Affairs Minister and former chief of staff to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Susana Malcorra, are also among the nominees.
Former Labor leader and ambassador to the US, Kim Beazley, told ABC’s PM program there was a “strong appetite” for female leadership.
Mr Beazley said Mr Turnbull made the right call.
“I think we should be supporting a woman for the job at the United Nations,” he said.
“There are several well-qualified women in the race.
“We should be putting our shoulders to the wheel behind one of them as the next secretary-general … my advice to the Government, for what it’s worth, would be to get behind Helen Clark.”