19 Jul 2016

Australia's call on Rudd vs Clark - NZ PM

3:34 pm on 19 July 2016

It is up to the Australian government who it wants to support for the top job at the United Nations, Prime Minister John Key says, though he believes former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark is the best person for the role.

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has asked the Australian leadership to support his late bid to enter the race for the Secretary-General position.

Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand and current head of the UN Development Programme, addresses the press to discuss her candidacy for UN secretary general after a hearing before UN member states in New York on April 14, 2016.

Helen Clark is one of 12 candidates for the UN Secretary General job. Photo: AFP

So far, 12 candidates are in the running for the job - including Miss Clark.

Mr Key said he thought it was time for a woman to run the UN and Miss Clark had by far the best credentials for the job.

"Personally I don't think [Kevin Rudd's bid] will impact on her bid, I think everyone understands it's a very political process, and once you get through the short-listing and then you really get down to the deep political issues that run there.

"My own personal view is that with Helen Clark is that she doesn't have the negatives that some candidates have, by that I mean it's unlikely a country would veto her.

"The question is really about the horse-trading and whether it's an Eastern European's time and what sort of deals might be done, and so I think everybody acknowledges that if she doesn't get there it won't be because she hasn't tried incredibly hard or isn't utterly suitable for the job."

The first straw poll for the UN Secretary General job will be held by the UN Security Council early Friday morning NZT.

The result of that poll will not be made public, but each candidate will be told how they did and the result of the top and lowest ranked candidates.

It is not yet clear how many straw polls will be required to select a candidate to put forward to the UN General Assembly to endorse.

The new Secretary General is due to begin the role on 1 January 2017.