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Kevin Rudd

The Honourable
Kevin Rudd
26th Prime Minister of Australia
Elections: 2007, 2013
In office
27 June 2013 – 18 September 2013
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor-General Quentin Bryce
Deputy Anthony Albanese
Preceded by Julia Gillard
Succeeded by Tony Abbott
In office
3 December 2007 – 24 June 2010
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor-General Michael Jeffery
Quentin Bryce
Deputy Julia Gillard
Preceded by John Howard
Succeeded by Julia Gillard
Leader of the Labor Party
In office
26 June 2013 – 13 September 2013
Deputy Anthony Albanese
Preceded by Julia Gillard
Succeeded by Bill Shorten
In office
4 December 2006 – 24 June 2010
Deputy Julia Gillard
Preceded by Kim Beazley
Succeeded by Julia Gillard
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
14 September 2010 – 22 February 2012
Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Preceded by Stephen Smith
Succeeded by Bob Carr
Leader of the Opposition
In office
4 December 2006 – 3 December 2007
Deputy Julia Gillard
Preceded by Kim Beazley
Succeeded by Brendan Nelson
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Griffith
In office
3 October 1998 – 22 November 2013
Preceded by Graeme McDougall
Succeeded by Terri Butler
9th Chairperson-in-office of the Commonwealth of Nations
In office
27 June 2013 – 18 September 2013
Head Elizabeth II
Preceded by Julia Gillard
Succeeded by Tony Abbott
Personal details
Born Kevin Michael Rudd
(1957-09-21) 21 September 1957
Nambour, Queensland, Australia
Political party Labor Party
Spouse(s) Thérèse Rein
Children 3
Residence Norman Park, Queensland, Australia[1]
Religion Anglicanism[2][3]
Website .comKevinRudd
This article is part of a series about
Kevin Rudd

Prime Minister of Australia

First term

Second term

Kevin Michael Rudd (born 21 September 1957) is a former Australian politician who was twice Prime Minister of Australia, from 2007 to 2010, and again in 2013. He was the first former prime minister to return to the office since Robert Menzies in 1949.

Having previously served as a diplomat, and then as an official for the Queensland Government, Rudd was initially elected to the House of Representatives for Griffith in 1998. He was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet in 2001 as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. In December 2006, he successfully challenged Kim Beazley to become the Leader of the Labor Party, subsequently becoming the Leader of the Opposition. Under Rudd, Labor overtook the incumbent Liberal/National Coalition led by John Howard in the polls, making a number of policy announcements on areas such as industrial relations, health, climate change, education ("Building the Education Revolution", "Digital Education Revolution"), and the National Broadband Network.

Labor won the 2007 election by a landslide, with a 23-seat swing in its favour, and Rudd was sworn in as the 26th Prime Minister of Australia on 3 December. The Rudd Government's first acts included signing the Kyoto Protocol and delivering an apology to Indigenous Australians for the Stolen Generations. The previous government's industrial relations legislation, WorkChoices, was largely dismantled, Australia's remaining Iraq War combat personnel were withdrawn, and the "Australia 2020 Summit" was held. In response to the global financial crisis, the government provided economic stimulus packages, and Australia was one of the few developed countries to avoid the late-2000s recession.

Despite a long period of popularity in opinion polls, a significant fall in Rudd's personal ratings in the middle of 2010 was blamed on a proposed Resource Super Profits Tax and the deferral of the Senate-rejected Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. With the next election drawing near, there was growing dissatisfaction with Rudd's leadership within the Labor Party. Eventually, Rudd's deputy, Julia Gillard, announced on 23 June 2010 that she would challenge him for the leadership the following day. Knowing he would be defeated if he contested the leadership, on the morning of the ballot Rudd resigned as prime minister. After his resignation, he successfully re-contested his seat at the 2010 election, after which Labor formed a minority government.

He was subsequently promoted back to the Cabinet by Prime Minister Julia Gillard as minister for foreign affairs, a post he remained in until he resigned on 22 February 2012 after an unsuccessful attempt to challenge Gillard for the leadership.[4][5] Following persistent tensions, Gillard announced another caucus ballot on the leadership on 26 June 2013, from which Rudd emerged victorious.[6][7] He was sworn in as prime minister for a second time the following day, and formed his second Cabinet, which contained a record number of women.[8][9] He also became the first serving Australian prime minister to publicly support same-sex marriage.[10][11][12] Despite an initial rise in opinion polls following his return, Labor was defeated in the 2013 election. Rudd resigned as prime minister for a second time on 18 September, and announced on 13 November that he would be stepping down from Parliament within a few days.[13][14] On 22 November, Rudd formally tendered his resignation to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.[15] In February 2014, he was named a Senior Fellow with John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[16] In September 2014, he became a Distinguished Fellow at the Paulson Institute, a think tank at the University of Chicago. In December 2014, he became a Senior Advisor with the political risk consulting firm Eurasia Group.[17]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Entry into politics 2
  • Member of Parliament, 1998–2007 3
    • Shadow minister (2001–06) 3.1
    • Leader of the Opposition (2006–07) 3.2
      • 2007 election 3.2.1
  • First term as prime minister (2007–10) 4
    • Domestic policies 4.1
      • Environment 4.1.1
      • Stolen Generations 4.1.2
      • Industrial relations 4.1.3
      • Economy 4.1.4
      • Australia 2020 Summit 4.1.5
      • Education 4.1.6
      • Immigration 4.1.7
      • Taxation 4.1.8
      • Healthcare 4.1.9
    • Foreign affairs 4.2
      • Iraq 4.2.1
      • Afghanistan 4.2.2
    • Political positions 4.3
      • Nationhood 4.3.1
      • Society 4.3.2
      • Religion 4.3.3
    • Resignation 4.4
  • 2010 election 5
  • Foreign Minister (2010–12) 6
  • 2012 leadership election 7
  • 2013 leadership elections 8
    • March 2013 leadership spill 8.1
    • June 2013 leadership spill 8.2
  • Second term as prime minister (2013) 9
    • 2013 election 9.1
  • Post-prime ministerial career (2013–present) 10
    • Resignation from Parliament 10.1
    • United States 10.2
  • Personal life 11
    • Health 11.1
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • Bibliography 14
  • External links 15

Early life and education

Rudd was born in Nambour, Queensland, to Albert ("Bert") and Margaret (née DeVere) Rudd, the youngest son of four children, and grew up on a dairy farm in nearby Eumundi.[18] At an early age (5–7), he contracted rheumatic fever and spent a considerable time at home convalescing. It damaged his heart, in particular the valves, for which he has thus far had two aortic valve replacement surgeries, but this was discovered only some 12 years later.[19] Farm life, which required the use of horses and guns, is where he developed his lifelong love of horse riding and shooting clay targets.[20]

When Rudd was 11, his father, a share farmer and Country Party member, died. Rudd states that the family was required to leave the farm amidst financial difficulty between two to three weeks after the death, though the family of the landowner states that the Rudds didn't have to leave for almost six months.[21] Following this traumatic childhood and despite familial connections with the Country Party, Rudd joined the Australian Labor Party, "the party of social justice",[22] in 1972 at the age of 15.[22]

Rudd boarded at [19] Two years later, after she retrained as a nurse, Rudd's mother moved the family to Nambour, and Rudd rebuilt his standing through study and scholastic application[19] and was dux of Nambour State High School in 1974.[24] His future Treasurer Wayne Swan attended the same school at the same time, although they did not know each other as Swan was three years ahead.[24] In that year, he was also the Queensland winner of the Rotary "Youth Speaks for Australia" public speaking contest.

Rudd is of English and Irish descent.[25] His paternal fourth great-grandparents were English and of convict heritage: Thomas Rudd and Mary Cable. Thomas arrived from London, England in 1801; Mary arrived from Essex in 1804. Thomas Rudd, who was convicted of stealing a bag of sugar, arrived in NSW on board the Earl Cornwallis in 1801.[26]

Rudd studied at the Australian National University in Canberra, where he resided at Burgmann College and graduated with Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) with First-Class Honours. He majored in Chinese language and Chinese history, became proficient in Mandarin. His Chinese name is Lù Kèwén (simplified Chinese: 陆克文; traditional Chinese: 陸克文).[27]

Rudd's thesis on Chinese democracy activist Wei Jingsheng[28] was supervised by Pierre Ryckmans, the eminent Belgian-Australian sinologist.[29] During his studies, Rudd did housecleaning for political commentator Laurie Oakes to earn extra money.[30] In 1980 he continued his Chinese studies at the Mandarin Training Center of National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, Taiwan. Delivering the 2008 Gough Whitlam Lecture at the University of Sydney on The Reforming Centre of Australian Politics, Rudd praised the former Labor Prime Minister for implementing educational reforms, saying he was:

… a kid who lived Gough Whitlam's dream that every child should have a desk with a lamp on it where he or she could study. A kid whose mum told him after the 1972 election that it might just now be possible for the likes of him to go to university. A kid from the country of no particular means and of no political pedigree who could therefore dream that one day he could make a contribution to our national political life.[31]

Entry into politics

Rudd joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1981, serving as a diplomat until 1988. He and his wife spent most of the 1980s overseas at various Australian embassies, including in Stockholm and in Beijing.

Returning to Australia in 1988, he was appointed Chief of Staff to the Opposition Leader in Queensland, Wayne Goss. He remained in that role when Goss was elected Premier in 1989, a position he held until 1992 when Goss appointed him Director-General of the Office of Cabinet. In this position, Rudd was arguably Queensland's most powerful bureaucrat.[29] He presided over a number of reforms, including development of a national program for teaching foreign languages in schools. Rudd was influential in both promoting a policy of developing an Asian languages and cultures program which was unanimously accepted by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 1992 and later chaired a high-level working group which provided the foundation of the strategy in its report, which is frequently cited as "the Rudd Report".[32]

The Goss Government saw its majority slashed in 1995, before losing it altogether after a by-election one year later. After Goss' resignation, Rudd left the Queensland Government and was hired as a Senior China Consultant by the accounting firm KPMG Australia. While in that position, he won selection to be the Labor candidate for the seat of Griffith at the 1996 federal election. Despite being endorsed by the retiring Labor MP, Ben Humphreys,[33] Rudd was considerably hampered by Labor's unpopularity in Queensland, as well as a redistribution that almost halved Labor's majority. Rudd was defeated by Liberal Graeme McDougall on the eighth count as Labor won only two seats in Queensland. Rudd stood in the same seat against McDougall in the 1998 election, this time winning on the fifth count.

Member of Parliament, 1998–2007

Rudd made his maiden speech to the House of Representatives as the new Member for the Division of Griffith on 11 November 1998.[34]

Shadow minister (2001–06)

Kevin Rudd in November 2005

Following Labor's defeat in the 2001 federal election, Rudd was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet and appointed Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. In 2002, he met with British intelligence and helped define the position that Labor would take in regards to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

There is no debate or dispute as to whether Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. He does. There's no dispute as whether he's in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. He is.[35]

After the fall of Saddam Hussein he would criticise the Howard Government over its support for the United States, while maintaining Labor's position of support for the Australian-American alliance.

Well, what Secretary Powell and the US seems to have said is that he now has grave doubts about the accuracy of the case he put to the United Nations about the claim that Iraq possessed biological weapons laboratories – the so-called mobile trailers. And here in Australia, that formed also part of the government's argument on the war. I think what it does is it adds to the fabric of how the Australian people were misled about the reasons for going to war.[36]

Rudd's policy experience and parliamentary performances during the Iraq War made him one of the best-known Labor members. When Labor Leader Simon Crean was challenged by his predecessor Kim Beazley, Rudd did not publicly commit himself to either candidate.[37] When Crean resigned, Rudd was considered a possible candidate for the Labor leadership,[38] however he announced that he would not run in the leadership ballot, and would instead vote for Kim Beazley.

Rudd was predicted by some commentators to be demoted or moved as a result of his support for Beazley following the election of Mark Latham as Leader, but he retained his portfolio. Relations between Latham and Rudd deteriorated during 2004, especially after Latham made his pledge to withdraw all Australian forces from Iraq by Christmas 2004 without consulting Rudd.[39] After Latham failed to win the 2004 federal election, Rudd was again spoken of as a possible alternative leader, although he disavowed any intention of challenging Latham.

When Latham suddenly resigned in January 2005, Rudd was in Indonesia and refused to say whether he would be a candidate for the Labor leadership.[40] After returning from Indonesia, Rudd announced that he would again not contest the leadership, and Beazley was subsequently elected unopposed. Following this, Rudd was given expanded responsibilities in the Shadow Cabinet, retaining his role as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and also becoming the Shadow Minister for Trade.

Leader of the Opposition (2006–07)

Kevin Rudd (right) and Julia Gillard (left) at their first press conference as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party, 4 December 2006

Following opinion polls indicating that voter support for Rudd as Labor Leader was higher than for Beazley, speculation mounted that Rudd would challenge Beazley for the leadership. One particular poll in November 2006 indicated that support for Labor would double if Rudd was to become Leader.[41] On 1 December 2006, Beazley called a leadership election. Rudd announced his candidacy for the leadership hours later.[42][43] On 4 December, Rudd was elected Leader of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition with 49 votes to Beazley's 39. Julia Gillard was subsequently elected unopposed as Deputy Leader after Jenny Macklin resigned.[44]

Two-party-preferred polling during the last term of the Howard Government; Rudd became Labor Leader in December 2006.

At his first press conference as Labor Leader, having thanked Beazley and Macklin, Rudd said he would offer a "new style of leadership" and would be an "alternative, not just an echo" of the Howard Government. He outlined the areas of industrial relations, the war in Iraq, climate change, Australian federalism, social justice and the future of Australia's manufacturing industry as major policy concerns. Rudd also stressed his long experience in state government and also as a diplomat and in business before entering federal politics.[45]

Labour Day 2007. From left to right: Anna Bligh (then Deputy Premier of Queensland), Rudd's son Nicholas, Kevin Rudd and Grace Grace (then general secretary of the Queensland Council of Unions).

Rudd and the Labor Party soon overtook the Howard government in both party and leadership polling. Rudd maintained a high media profile with major announcements on an "education revolution",[46] federalism,[47] climate change,[48] a National Broadband Network,[49] and the domestic car industry.

In March 2007 the government raised questions over a series of meetings Rudd had had with former West Australian Labor Premier Brian Burke during 2005, alleging that Rudd had been attempting to use Burke's influence to become Labor leader (after losing office, Burke had spent time in prison before returning to politics as a lobbyist).[50] Rudd said that this had not been the purpose of the three meetings and said that they had been arranged by his colleague Graham Edwards, the Member for Cowan.[51]

From 2002, Rudd appeared regularly in interviews and topical discussions on the popular breakfast television program Sunrise, along with Liberal MP Joe Hockey. This was credited with helping to raise Rudd's public profile even further.[52] Rudd and Hockey ended their joint appearances in April 2007, citing the increasing political pressures of an election year.[53]

On 19 August 2007, it was revealed that Rudd, while on a visit to New York City as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, had visited a strip club in September 2003, with New York Post editor Col Allan and Labor MP Warren Snowdon. By way of explanation, Rudd said: "I had had too much to drink, I have no recollection, and nor does Mr Snowdon, of any incident occurring at the nightclub – or of being asked to is our recollection that we left within about an hour".[54] The incident generated a lot of media coverage, but made no impact on Rudd's popularity in the polls.[55] Some believe the incident may have enabled Rudd to appear "more human" and lifted his popularity.[56]

2007 election

Kevin Rudd campaigning with Kerry Rea in Bonner on 21 September 2007

Electoral writs were issued for the 2007 federal election on 17 October 2007. On 21 October, Rudd faced incumbent Prime Minister John Howard in a television debate, where he was judged by most media analysts to have performed strongly.[57]

On 14 November, Rudd officially launched the Labor Party's election campaign with a policy of fiscal restraint, usually considered the electoral strength of the opposing Liberal Party. Rudd proposed Labor spending measures totalling $2.3 billion, contrasting them to $9.4 billion Rudd claimed the Liberals had promised, declaring: "Today, I am saying loud and clear that this sort of reckless spending must stop."[58][59]

The election was held on 24 November, and was won overwhelmingly by Labor. The result was dubbed a 'Ruddslide' by the media and was underpinned by the considerable support from Rudd's home state of Queensland, with the state result recording a two-party preferred swing of 7.53%.[60] The overall swing was 5.44% from the Liberals to Labor, the third largest swing at a federal election since two party estimates began in 1949.

As foreshadowed during the election campaign, on 29 November Rudd announced the members of his Government (see First Rudd Ministry), breaking with more than a century of Labor tradition whereby the frontbench was elected by the Labor caucus, with the leader then given the right to allocate portfolios.[61][62]

First term as prime minister (2007–10)

On 3 December 2007, Rudd was sworn in as the 26th Prime Minister of Australia by Governor-General Michael Jeffery.[63] Rudd was the first Labor Prime Minister in over a decade, and the first ever to make no mention of the monarch when taking his oath of office. He also became only the second Queenslander to lead his party to a federal election victory (the first being Andrew Fisher in 1910) and was the first prime minister since the Second World War not to have come from either New South Wales or Victoria.[64]

Early initiatives of the Rudd Government included the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, a Parliamentary Apology to the Stolen Generations and the 2020 Summit.[65]

During his first two years in office, Rudd set records for popularity in Newspoll opinion polling, maintaining very high approval ratings.[66] By 2010, however, Rudd's approval ratings had begun to drop significantly, with controversies arising over the management of the financial crisis, the delay of the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, policies on asylum seekers and a debate over a proposed "super profits" tax on the mining industry.[67]

The United States diplomatic cables leaks revealed that Robert McCallum, the former US Ambassador to Australia, described Rudd as a "control freak" and "a micro-manager", obsessed with "managing the media cycle rather than engaging in collaborative decision making". Diplomats also criticised Rudd's foreign policy record and considered Rudd's "mis-steps" largely arose from his propensity to make "snap announcements without consulting other countries or within the Australian Government".[68]

On 23 June 2010, following lengthy media speculation, and after it had become apparent that Rudd had lost the support of many Labor MPs, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard publicly asked that a leadership election be held. Rudd announced a leadership election for the following day.[69][70]

Domestic policies


In opposition, Rudd called climate change "the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time" and called for a cut to greenhouse gas emissions by 60% before 2050.[71] On 3 December 2007, as his first official act after being sworn in, Rudd signed the Kyoto Protocol.[72] On 15 December 2008, Rudd released a White Paper on reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.[73] The White Paper included a plan to introduce an emissions trading scheme in 2010 that is known as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and gave a target range for Australia's greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 of between 5% and 15% less than 2000 levels.[73] The White Paper was criticised by the Federal Government's climate change advisor, Professor Ross Garnaut.[74] Rudd criticised the opposition Liberal Party for its refusal to support the new legislation ("What absolute political cowardice, what absolute failure of leadership, what absolute failure of logic ...")[75] but on 4 May 2009 announced that the Government would delay implementing an emissions trading scheme until 2011. Rudd also deferred the CPRS legislation until 2013.[76][77]

Rudd was unable to achieve any significant action on a national response to climate change, and abandoned his vision in the face of political opposition.[78][79][80] Many of Rudd's minor climate change initiatives were scrapped or slashed by Julia Gillard.[81] However he did implement an expanded mandatory renewable energy target with coalition support.[82]

Stolen Generations

Kevin Rudd on television in Federation Square, Melbourne, apologising to the stolen generations.

As the parliament's first order of business, on 13 February 2008, Rudd read an apology directed to Indigenous Australians for the stolen generations. The apology, for the policies of successive parliaments and governments, passed unanimously as a motion by both houses of parliament.[83] Rudd pledged the government to bridging the gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australian health, education and living conditions, and in a way that respects their rights to self-determination.[84] During meetings held in December 2007 and March 2008 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) adopted six targets to improve the wellbeing of Indigenous Australians over the next five to twenty years. As of late 2011, data on changes since 2008 in relation to most of these targets was not yet available.[85]

Industrial relations

WorkChoices, the industrial relations regime introduced by the Howard government, was overhauled.[86] Rudd's 2007 policy included the phasing out of Australian Workplace Agreements over a period of five years, the establishment of a simpler awards system as a safety net, the restoration of unfair dismissal laws for companies with under 100 employees (probation period of 12 months for companies with less than 15 employees), and the retention of the Australian Building and Construction Commission until 2010. It retained the illegality of secondary boycotts, the right of employers to lock workers out, restriction of a union right of entry to workplaces, and restrictions on workers' right to strike.[87] Rudd also established a single industrial relations bureaucracy called Fair Work Australia, designed to play a far more interventionist role than the Howard Government's Fair Pay Commission.[88] Fair Work Australia mediated the 2011 Qantas industrial disputes.


Kevin Rudd (back row, fourth from right) at the G-20 Leaders Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy.
See also: 2008 Australian federal budget, 2009 Australian federal budget

In his first speech to parliament, Rudd affirmed his general belief in competitive markets, while repudiating Thatcherism and supporting the Third Way.[89] Rudd is critical of free market economists such as Friedrich Hayek,[90] although Rudd describes himself as "basically a conservative when it comes to questions of public financial management," pointing to his slashing of public service jobs as a Queensland governmental advisor.[91]

Upon election to office, the Rudd government announced a five-point plan to combat inflation.[92] The first budget of the Rudd government was delivered by Treasurer Wayne Swan in May 2008 and a projected surplus of $21.7 billion was announced.[93] As the global recession began to take hold, the Government guaranteed bank deposits and announced two stimulatory spending packages.[94] The first was worth $10.4 billion and announced in late 2008,[95] and the second worth $42 billion was announced in February 2009 and included $900-dollar cash payments to resident taxpayers who paid net tax in the 2007–08 financial year.[96] After initially raising interest rates to combat inflation, The Reserve Bank cut official interest rates several times in increments of up to 1 percent, and fell to 3 percent in May 2009, the lowest since 1960.[97] The second budget, released in May 2009, projected a $57.6 billion deficit for 2009–10. The majority of the deficit was created by a loss of taxation revenue as a result of the recession, with the rest made up in stimulus and other spending. The downturn was expected to remove $210 billion in taxation revenue from the budget over the next four years.[98]

Following the start of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, increased exports and consumer spending helped the Australian economy avoid recession in 2009. Australia was the only western economy to do so.[99]

In early 2009,[100] in the wake of the global financial crisis,[101] Rudd stated "that the great neo-liberal experiment of the past 30 years has failed", and that "Neo-liberalism and the free-market fundamentalism it has produced has been revealed as little more than personal greed dressed up as an economic philosophy. And, ironically, it now falls to social democracy to prevent liberal capitalism from cannibalising itself." Rudd called for a new era of "social capitalism" from social democrats such as himself and US President Barack Obama to "support a global financial system that properly balances private incentive with public responsibility".[102]

As part of its economic stimulus program, the government offered householders a rebate for ceiling insulation. Rudd demoted Peter Garrett, the minister responsible for the program, before abandoning the program altogether in 2010 after the scheme was blamed for house fires and 4 deaths.[103] The Building the Education Revolution program sought to stimulate the nationwide economy by employing construction workers in school building developments, but came under media scrutiny following allegations of overpricing and bad value for money.[104]

The Rudd Government's third budget in 2010 projected a $40.8 billion deficit for 2010–11[105] but forecast that Australia would return to surplus by 2012–13. The government proposed a "super profits" tax on the mining industry and included $12 billion in revenue from the proposal in the forecast, although the tax had not been passed by the Senate.[106]

Australia 2020 Summit

In February 2008 Rudd announced the Australia 2020 Summit, held from 19–20 April 2008, which brought together 1000 leading Australians to discuss ten major areas of policy innovation.[107] Among the initiatives supported at the event, the summit voted in favour of a plebiscite on Australia "relinquishing ties" to the United Kingdom followed by a referendum on the model for an Australian republic,[108] a bill of rights, the re-formation of an Indigenous peak representative body similar to ATSIC, (which had been abolished by the Howard Government), the introduction of an Emissions Trading Scheme, and a review of the taxation system.[109]

Findings released in April 2009 reported that nine out of the 1000 submitted ideas were to be immediately enacted and that the government was deliberating on other ideas proposed.[110] By mid-2010, among the key reform ideas suggested, Prime Minister Rudd had sought to introduce an ETS, but postponed it after failing to secure passage through the senate;[111] formed a consultative committee on a Bill of Rights then rejected its recommendation for implementation;[112] established the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples in 2010;[113] commissioned the Henry Review of taxation (on the basis of which the Rudd Government proposed a new "super-profits" tax on mining);[114] and Rudd had described the issue of a vote on a republic as not being "a priority".[115]


During the election, Rudd promised a "Digital Education Revolution", including provision of a computer on the desk of every upper secondary student. The program initially stalled with state governments asserting that the proposed funding was inadequate. The federal government increased proposed funding from $1.2 billion to $2 billion,[116] and did not mandate that a computer be provided to each upper secondary student.[117] The program supplied office software, photo and video editing software, and web design software, some of it unusable due to the hardware becoming obsolete.[118]


As prime minister, Rudd professed his belief in a "Big Australia",[119] while his government increased the immigration quota after to around 300,000 people.[120] In 2010, Rudd appointed Tony Burke as population minister to examine population goals.[121]

In 2008, the government adjusted the mandatory detention policies established by the Keating and Howard governments and declared an end to the Pacific Solution.[122] Boat arrivals increased considerably during 2009 and the Opposition said this was due to the government's policy adjustments, the Government said it was due to "push factors".[123] After a fatal explosion on an asylum seeker boat in April 2009, Rudd said: "People smugglers are the vilest form of human life." Opposition frontbencher Tony Abbott said that Kevin Rudd was inept and hypocritical in his handling of the issue during the Oceanic Viking affair of October 2009.[124] In April 2010, the Rudd government suspended processing new claims by Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers, who comprised 80 per cent of all boat arrivals, for three and six months respectively.[125]


Rudd commissioned the Henry Tax Review, to undertake a "root and branch" review of the Australian taxation system. In 2010, the Rudd government pursued its proposal for a new 40% tax on the "super profits" of resource companies to offset a lower corporate tax rate and some adjustments to superannuation.[114][126] In the face of strong opposition from the mining industry, the government exempted itself from its own guidelines on taxpayer-funded advertising and launched an advertising campaign in support of its tax policy proposal.[127] During the 2007 election campaign, Rudd had described tax payer funded political advertising as "a long-term cancer on our democracy", but he said that a government funded campaign was needed in 2010 on this issue.[128]


Rudd announced a significant and far-reaching strategic reform to Australian healthcare in 2010.[129] However, this was not pursued beyond in-principle agreements with Labor State and Territory governments, and was scrapped by Julia Gillard during her first year in office.[130][131]

Foreign affairs


In accordance with a Multinational Force Iraq agreement with the new Iraqi Government,[132] Labor's plan to withdraw the Australian Defence Force "combat" contingent was completed on 28 July 2009, three days ahead of the deadline.[133] In mid-2010, there were about 65 ADF personnel remaining in Iraq supporting UN operations or the Australian Embassy.[134]


While Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Rudd said that Afghanistan was 'terrorism central'. In July 2005 he said:

It's time to recognise once and for all that terrorism central is Afghanistan. You see, a lot of Jemaah Islamiah's terrorist operations in South East Asia are financed by the reconstitution of the opium crop in Afghanistan – $2.3 billion a year worth of narco-finance flowing out of Afghanistan into terrorist groups here in our region, our neighbourhood, our backyard.[135]

As prime minister, Rudd continued to support Australian military involvement in Afghanistan, despite the growing number of Australian casualties. On 29 April 2009, Rudd committed 450 extra troops to the region bringing the total to 1550.[136] Explaining the deployment he said:

A measured increase in Australian forces in Afghanistan will enhance the security of Australian citizens, given that so many terrorists attacking Australians in the past have been trained in Afghanistan.

On a November 2009 visit to Afghanistan, Rudd told Australian troops: "We from Australia will remain for the long haul."[137] In April 2010, the Australian Government decided not to commit further troops to Uruzgan province to replace Dutch forces when they withdraw, but increased the numbers of diplomatic, development aid, and police personnel to around 50 with military effort and civilian work focussed on Uruzgan.[138]

The United States diplomatic cables leak reported Rudd's criticisms of Australia's European allies in the Afghanistan campaign.

Political positions


Rudd (left) and US President APEC Australia 2007 in Sydney.
Rudd (left) and US President Barack Obama (right) meet in Washington DC.

As shadow foreign minister, Rudd reformulated Labor's foreign policy in terms of "Three Pillars": engagement with the UN, engagement with Asia, and the US alliance.[139]

Although disagreeing with the original commitment to the Iraq War, Rudd supports the continued deployment of Australian troops in Iraq, but not the continued deployment of combat troops. Rudd was also in favour of Australia's military presence in Afghanistan.[140]

Rudd backs the road map for peace plan and defended Israel's actions during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, condemning Hezbollah and Hamas for violating Israeli territory.[141]

As prime minister, he also pledged support for East Timor, stating that Australian troops would remain in East Timor for as long as East Timor's government wanted them to.[142]

Rudd also gave his support for the independence of Kosovo from Serbia,[143] before Australia officially recognised the republic.[144] This decision sparked protests of the Serbian Australian community against Rudd.[145]

In 2008 Rudd recommended the appointment of Quentin Bryce as the first female Governor-General of Australia to Queen Elizabeth II.


Some commentators have described Rudd as a social conservative.[146][147] He has moved to remove financial discrimination against LGBT couples, but he had previously been opposed to legislation to recognize same-sex marriage.[148]

In May 2013, however, Rudd announced he had changed his position based on personal experience and the fact that his children had long thought him "an unreconstructed dinosaur" for not supporting marriage equality legislation. He went on to say that "I believe the secular Australian state should be able to recognise same sex marriage" while opposing any compulsion for churches to marry same-sex couples if that was not their wish.[149]

In a conscience vote in 2006, Rudd supported legislation to transfer regulatory authority for the abortion-inducing drug RU486 from the federal Minister For Health to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, removing the minister's veto on the use of RU486 in Australia. Rudd said that "For me and for the reasons I have outlined, the life of the unborn is of great importance. And having tested these reasons with men and women of faith, and men and women of science, that I've decided not to oppose this bill. "[150]

In another 2006 Parliamentary conscience vote, Rudd voted against legislation to expand embryonic stem cell research[151]


Rudd and his family attend the Anglican church of St John the Baptist in Bulimba in his electorate. Although raised a Roman Catholic, Rudd was actively involved in the Evangelical Union while studying at the Australian National University,[152] and he began attending Anglican services in the 1980s with his wife.[22] In December 2009, Rudd attended a Catholic Mass to commemorate the canonisation of Mary MacKillop at which he received Holy Communion. Rudd's actions provoked criticism and debate among both among political and religious circles.[153] A report by The Australian quoted that Rudd embraced Anglicanism but at the same time did not formally renounce his Catholic faith.[154]

Rudd is the mainstay of the parliamentary prayer group in Parliament House, Canberra.[155] He is vocal about his Christianity and has given a number of prominent interviews to the Australian religious press on the topic.[156] Rudd has defended church representatives engaging with policy debates, particularly with respect to WorkChoices legislation, climate change, global poverty, therapeutic cloning, and asylum seekers.[157] In an essay in The Monthly,[157] he argued:

A [truly] Christian perspective on contemporary policy debates may not prevail. It must nonetheless be argued. And once heard, it must be weighed, together with other arguments from different philosophical traditions, in a fully contestable secular polity. A Christian perspective, informed by a social gospel or Christian socialist tradition, should not be rejected contemptuously by secular politicians as if these views are an unwelcome intrusion into the political sphere. If the churches are barred from participating in the great debates about the values that ultimately underpin our society, our economy and our polity, then we have reached a very strange place indeed.

He cites Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a personal inspiration in this regard.[158]

In May 2008, Rudd was drawn into the controversy over photographic artist Bill Henson and his work depicting naked adolescents as part of a show due to open at an inner-city gallery in Sydney. In a televised interview, Rudd stated that he found the images "absolutely revolting"[159] and that they had "no artistic merit".[160] These views swiftly drew censure from members of the "creative stream" who attended the recent 2020 Summit convened by Rudd, led by actor Cate Blanchett.[161]

When in Canberra, Rudd and Rein worship at St John the Baptist Church, Reid, where they were married.[19] Rudd often does a "door stop" interview for the media when leaving the church yard.[162]


Bronze bust of Kevin Rudd at the Prime Minister's Avenue at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.

On 23 June 2010, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Rudd's Chief of Staff, Alister Jordan, had talked to over half of the Labor caucus to gauge the level of Rudd's support within the party. This followed significant media speculation that his deputy, Julia Gillard, would challenge him for the leadership.[163] Late that evening, after it became clear that Rudd had lost the support of a large number of Labor MPs, Gillard publicly requested that Rudd hold a leadership election as soon as possible. Rudd subsequently announced a leadership election for 24 June, saying that he would stand.[164] Hours before the vote, however, it became clear that Rudd would not have the support to win, and so he stood down as Labor leader and prime minister.[165]

Gillard was elected unopposed, becoming Australia's first female prime minister. Bill Shorten, the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services and a key member of the Labor Party's right faction, speculated that it was the Government's handling of the insulation program, the sudden announcement of change of policy on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, and the way in which they had "introduced the debate" about the Resource Super Profits Tax as the main reasons which had led to a collapse in support for Rudd's leadership.[166][167][168][169][170][171]

Barry Cohen, a former minister in the Hawke Government, said that many in the Labor Party felt ignored by Rudd's centralist leadership style, and his at times insulting and rude treatment of staff and other ministers. Many were willing to overlook this due to his immense popularity, but when Rudd's poll numbers began to drop in late 2009 and 2010, they wanted to install a leader more able to establish consensus and involve the party caucus as a whole.[172] Rudd became the first Australian prime minister to be removed from office by his own party during his first term.[173]

2010 election

Rudd announced following his resignation as prime minister that he would re-contest his seat of Griffith for the 2010 federal election, set for 21 August. Early in the campaign, he suffered abdominal pain and underwent surgery to remove his gall bladder.[174] His first public statements after the operation were in an interview[175] with ABC Radio National's Phillip Adams for Late Night Live, which received wide national coverage;[176] in it, he denied being the source of political leaks concerning Julia Gillard. Gillard later requested that Rudd join the national campaign to boost Labor's chances of re-election, which he did.[173] Rudd and Gillard were subsequently photographed together during a private meeting in Brisbane, both appearing uncomfortable, unsmiling and unspeaking.[177] Rudd was comfortably re-elected as the Member for Griffith. Labor under Gillard went on to form a minority government after the election resulted in a hung parliament.

Foreign Minister (2010–12)

Rudd with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in September 2010

Prime Minister Julia Gillard appointed Rudd as Minister for Foreign Affairs in Cabinet on 14 September 2010.[178][179] He represented Gillard at a UN General Assembly meeting in September 2010.[180]

Wikileaks, in 2010, published material about Kevin Rudd's term as prime minister, included United States diplomatic cables leak. As foreign minister, Rudd denounced publishing classified documents by WikiLeaks. The Australian media reported, references to Rudd in the cables included frank discussions between Rudd and US officials about China and Afghanistan. This included negative assessments of some of Rudd's foreign policy initiatives and leadership style, written in confidence for the US Government by the US Embassy staff in Australia.[181][182][183]

Before his first visit to Israel as Foreign Minister, Rudd stated Israel should be subject to International Atomic Energy Agency inspection. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected the call.[184][185]

Following the 2011 Egyptian revolution and resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Rudd called for "constitutional reform and a clear timetable towards free and fair elections".[186]

In response to the 2011 Libyan civil war, Rudd announced in early March 2011, the international community should enforce a no-fly zone, as the "lesser of two evils". The US officials in Canberra sought clarification on what the Australian Government was proposing. Ms Gillard said the United Nations Security Council should consider a full range of alternatives, and that Australia was not planning to send forces to enforce a no-fly zone.[187]

Following the devastating 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Rudd announced after talking with Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto, he had offered Australian field hospitals and disaster victim identification teams to help with recovery. He also said he had offered Australian atomic expertise and sought urgent briefings following an explosion at a nuclear plant.[188]

Rudd announced his resignation as Foreign Minister on 22 February 2012, citing Gillard's failure to counter character attacks launched by Simon Crean and "other faceless men" as his reasons. Speaking to the press, Rudd explained that he considered Gillard's silence as evidence that she no longer supported him, and therefore he could not continue in office. "I can only serve as Foreign Minister if I have the confidence of Prime Minister Gillard and her senior ministers," he said.[4][189][190]

Rudd resigned as the Minister for Foreign Affairs followed heated speculation about a possible leadership spill. Craig Emerson temporarily replaced Rudd as Minister for Foreign Affairs, until Senator Bob Carr became Minister for Foreign Affairs on 13 March 2012.[191]

2012 leadership election

Speculation regarding Rudd's desire to challenge Gillard to regain the leadership of the Labor Party—and hence the Prime Ministership—became a near constant feature of media commentary on the Gillard Government. In October 2011, Queensland MP Graham Perrett, the member for the marginal Brisbane-area seat of Moreton, announced that if Labor replaced Gillard with Rudd, he would resign and force a by-election—a move that would likely cost Labor its majority.[192] In her speech to Labor's 2011 Conference, Prime Minister Gillard mentioned every Labor Prime Minister since World War II with the exception of Kevin Rudd.[193] The speech was widely reported as a snub to Rudd.[194] In early 2012, Labor MPs began to openly discuss the issue of leadership. Simon Crean told Radio 3AW, "[Rudd] can't be leader again...people will not elect as leaders those they don't perceive as team players".[195]

Following a Four Corners program that revisited Gillard's role in Rudd's downfall as prime minister, a breakdown in party discipline saw Labor MP Darren Cheeseman call on Gillard to resign, while his colleague Steve Gibbons called Rudd a "psychopath with a giant ego".[196] Amidst the controversy, an expletive-laden video of out-takes of an intemperate Kevin Rudd attempting to record a Chinese language message during his time as prime minister was released anonymously on YouTube, apparently aimed at discrediting his push for the leadership.[196] While Rudd said publicly only that he was "happy as Foreign Minister", media commentators widely declared that a leadership challenge was "on".[197]

When Rudd resigned on 22 February 2012, Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan lambasted Rudd as "dysfunctional". His Cabinet colleague Tony Burke also spoke against Rudd, saying of his time in office that "the stories that were around of the chaos, of the temperament, of the inability to have decisions made, they are not stories.".[198][199][200] Labor Senator Doug Cameron came out in support of Rudd and called on his colleagues to show him respect.[201]

Later that day, Rudd said that he did not think Gillard could defeat the Coalition at the next election and that, since his resignation, he had received encouragement from Labor MPs to contest the leadership.[202] Gillard responded to these developments by announcing a leadership election for the morning of 27 February 2012, and stating that she would be a candidate.[203] Two days later, Rudd announced his own candidacy.[5] Before the vote, Rudd promised that he would not initiate any further leadership challenges against Gillard should he lose, but he did not rule out becoming Leader again at a later date.[204]

Rudd at the 2013 meeting of the World Economic Forum

Gillard won the leadership election comfortably with 71 votes to Rudd's 31.[205] Following the result Rudd returned to the backbenches, reiterating that he would not mount any further leadership challenges against Gillard, and stating that he would support her in any further leadership elections.[206]

2013 leadership elections

March 2013 leadership spill

On 21 March 2013, following a request from Simon Crean, the prime minister, Julia Gillard, called a leadership spill. It was widely reported that Rudd was considering nominating for the leadership of the Australian Labor Party, but he chose not to stand. Gillard was the sole candidate and was elected unopposed.

June 2013 leadership spill

On 10 June 2013, the security of Gillard's position as leader was put in doubt following the loss of significant support in the Labor caucus. Furthermore, polling in the preceding week indicated that the party could be left with a very low number of 40 seats in the Federal Parliament, while one Labor backbencher compared the Labor Party to the Titanic.[207] ABC reported that "some former staunch supporters" held the view that Gillard could not win the election, and ABC journalist Barrie Cassidy identified Rudd as the only feasible replacement.[208]

The political editor of the Australian newspaper, Dennis Shanahan, reported on 10 June 2013 that Rudd was "mobbed" by supporters in the Victorian city of Geelong on 7 June 2013 and that he was "expected to be returned to the ALP leadership".[209]

On 26 June 2013, Julia Gillard called a leadership spill, intending to head off any challenge. Rudd announced that he would challenge the prime minister. Gillard said that, in her view, the loser of the ballot should retire from politics; Rudd agreed that this would be appropriate.[6] Key Gillard supporter Bill Shorten, who was one of the main figures responsible for Rudd's previous overturn as prime minister, this time announced his support for Rudd.[210] Rudd subsequently won the leadership ballot, 57–45, and became the Leader of the Labor Party for the second time.[7]

Second term as prime minister (2013)

Rudd being sworn in as prime minister on 27 June 2013

Following the leadership election on 26 June 2013, Julia Gillard resigned as prime minister. After seeking legal advice from the acting Solicitor-General, Robert Orr, the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, invited Rudd to be sworn in as prime minister for the second time on 27 June.[211] At 9:53 am (AEST), Rudd was sworn in as prime minister for a second term,[212][213] becoming the second Labor Prime Minister to have a second non-consecutive term; the first was Andrew Fisher.

2013 election

On 4 August 2013, Rudd announced that he had visited Governor-General Quentin Bryce at Parliament House, asking her to dissolve Parliament and for a federal election to be held on 7 September. After Labor subsequently lost the election, Rudd resigned as prime minister for the second time on 18 September 2013.

Post-prime ministerial career (2013–present)

Resignation from Parliament

Following a period of intense criticism from prominent members of the ALP, [214][215][216][217] on 13 November 2013 Rudd announced that he would soon resign from Parliament.[218] Rudd submitted his resignation in writing to the Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, on 22 November 2013, formally ending his parliamentary career. A by-election for his seat was held on 8 February 2014, at which he was succeeded as the Member for Griffith by ALP candidate Terri Butler.[15]

United States

In early 2014, Rudd left Australia to live in the United States, where he was a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In October of that year, he became the first Head of the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York City.[219]

Personal life

In 1981, Rudd married Thérèse Rein whom he had met at a gathering of the Australian Student Christian Movement during his university years. Both were residents at Burgmann College during their first year of university.[220] Rudd and Rein have three children[221][222] and one granddaughter.[223]


In 1993, Rudd underwent a cardiac valve transplant operation (Ross procedure), receiving a cadaveric aortic valve replacement for rheumatic heart disease.[224] In 2011, Rudd underwent a second cardiac valve transplant operation,[225] making a full recovery from the surgery.[226][227]

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  • Paul Kelly, Triumph and Demise: The Broken Promise of a Labor Generation, Melbourne University Press, 2014. ISBN 9780522862102
  • Weller, Patrick (2010). Kevin Rudd: The Making of a Prime Minister. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press.  

External links

  • Official website
  • BBC Profile – Kevin Rudd
  • "Kevin Rudd: The early years | Daily Telegraph" – Images
  • Search or browse Hansard for Kevin Rudd at
  • Kevin Rudd at TED
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Graeme McDougall
Member of Parliament
for Griffith

Succeeded by
Terri Butler
Political offices
Preceded by
Jenny Macklin
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Stephen Smith
Preceded by
Kim Beazley
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Brendan Nelson
Preceded by
John Howard
Prime Minister of Australia
Succeeded by
Julia Gillard
Preceded by
Stephen Smith
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Bob Carr
Preceded by
Julia Gillard
Prime Minister of Australia
Succeeded by
Tony Abbott
Party political offices
Preceded by
Kim Beazley
Leader of the Labor Party
Succeeded by
Julia Gillard
Preceded by
Julia Gillard
Leader of the Labor Party
Succeeded by
Chris Bowen
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Julia Gillard
Commonwealth Chairperson-in-Office
Succeeded by
Tony Abbott
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