STATEMENTS BY SENATORS – International Relations: Australia and the United States of America, Wednesday March 22, 2024

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (13:48): Say what you like about Donald Trump; if his assessment of Kevin Rudd is any indication, the man is an excellent judge of character. Trump, when asked overnight about Australia’s ambassador to the United States, described the former Labor Prime Minister as ‘a little bit nasty’. While he’s not wrong, just ask a few members of the Labor Party. Treasurer Jim Chalmers once described Kevin Rudd as having a dysfunctional leadership style and a demeaning attitude toward others. Former minister Kristina Keneally called him ‘a psychopathic narcissist’. One-time Labor health minister Nicola Roxon said that Rudd was ‘a bastard’—that’s a quote—’who deserve to be booted from office’. Even the Obama administration regarded Kevin Rudd as—I quote again—’an abrasive, impulsive control freak’.

Donald Trump pointed out overnight that, if he won the election in November, it would be difficult for Australia’s ambassador to the US to remain in Washington. That is obviously stating the obvious. Rudd has described Trump as ‘nuts’ and the ‘most disruptive president in history’. All of this begs the question: why did Prime Minister Albanese appoint Kevin Rudd as our US ambassador in the first place? Why did he do it? Maybe the Prime Minister sent Kevin 07 to America because it was as far away as he could get him from here.

Our ambassador to our major ally—what is he? He’s a man who is disliked by some in the Labor Party at home and distrusted by our allies abroad. It’s clear that we have a dud as an ambassador to the United States. Does that surprise any of you? He is, after all, a former Labor prime minister. Trump, 2024: that’s what I say.