29 Jul 2016

Turnbull holds Rudd's UN fate in his hands

7:40 am on 29 July 2016

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is having to make the deciding call on whether his government will back former leader Kevin Rudd to stand for Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Helen Clark and Kevin Rudd

Helen Clark and Kevin Rudd Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson / AFP

So far, there are 12 confirmed candidates for Ban Ki-Moon's job, including Helen Clark.

In a Cabinet meeting that went well over time on Thursday, Mr Rudd's case was pushed by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and supported by Attorney-General George Brandis.

The backing of some other ministers who spoke in favour has been described as lukewarm.

But many spoke against nominating Mr Rudd, including Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, Treasurer Scott Morrison and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who argued he was unfit for the role.

In the end it was left to the Mr Turnbull to make the call with the understanding the leadership would support his decision.

Mr Turnbull said he wanted to speak to Mr Rudd before announcing it.

"We've considered this issue and I owe Mr Rudd a telephone call before I say anything more about it publicly," Mr Turnbull said.

Ms Bishop had earlier stopped short of endorsing Mr Rudd, but said he was qualified to lead the UN.

A senior official has told the ABC the government would look petty if it did not endorse the former Prime Minister, a view shared by acting Opposition leader Tanya Plibersek.

"I think it would be small-minded, I think it would be embarrassing for the nation, I think it would be misguided and I think it would be wrong," she said.


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