Kevin Rudd’s new memoir details his agreement with Julia Gillard that he would have two terms as opposition leader despite opposition from his faction, and recalls Mark Latham ‘mocking’ him after the death of his mother.
In his new book Not for the Faint-hearted: A personal reflection on life, politics and purpose, due to be released next week, the former prime minister details how he shook hands with Ms Gillard on an agreement that she would be deputy leader.
“She said I should be given two terms as opposition leader,” Mr Rudd writes in an extract in The Weekend Australian.
“If I had failed to win by then, then she would reserve her rights. She then added a caveat that if I went backwards in the 2007 election, when measured against (Mark) Latham’s result in 2004, she would also have to give some thought as to her next move. Both propositions sounded reasonable to me. We shook hands on it.”
He acknowledges that he underestimated her ambition — and also his regret in appointing Wayne Swan as treasurer, according to The Weekend Australian.
Mr Rudd also recounts how he and Ms Gillard plotted the downfall of then-party leader Kim Beazley.
“This agreement was one of the reasons I was taken by surprise during the events of June 2010, when Julia acted to ensure that not only would I not be given two terms as Labor leader, I would only be given one, and that would be as a Labor prime minister who had actually prevailed against the then invincible (John) Howard. Such is the brutal nature of Australian politics played at its hardest.”
In another extract published by Fairfax media, Mr Rudd recounts the 2004 election campaign, during which he was grappling with the death of his mother from lung cancer.
He recalls Mr Latham mocking him for crying over his loss.
“I had been to see Latham at his request sometime before the caucus meeting. He had the decency to mention my mother. My emotions were still raw. I remained silent for a while, as the tears welled inside me,” Mr Rudd writes.
“He asked what I wanted to do. I told him if Treasury was vacant, I would be interested. He said it wasn’t. He said the reason it wasn’t was that I had been treacherous during the campaign.
“I replied that I had spent most of the campaign preoccupied with my dying mother. He then said he had incontrovertible proof that I had been the source of a press leak against him during the campaign.”
Later, when Mr Latham published The Latham Diaries in 2005, “he ridiculed my tears over my mother’s death”, Mr Rudd recalls.
“This was Latham in uber-male mode, where any weakness was to be despised,” he writes.
In his Diaries, Mr Latham recalled the episode as an example of Mr Rudd’s unquenchable ambition.
“Even though he was crying, he kept on lobbying to be shadow treasurer,” he wrote at the time.
Mr Rudd has been at Oxford, where he is undertaking Doctorate of Philosophy research into China and its role in the world, but will return to Australia next week to launch his memoir.
Mr Rudd said in a Twitter video on Wednesday he was expecting both comfortable and uncomfortable questions to be asked.
“And on the uncomfortable questions, I’ll do my absolute best to avoid answering them,” he quipped.
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) October 17, 2017