Sunday, 18 November 2018

Cry baby Chalmers, treacherous Jason Clare, stupid Wayne Swan: Rudd unloads on ex-colleagues

Cry baby Chalmers, treacherous Jason Clare, stupid Wayne Swan: Rudd unloads on ex-colleagues
21 Oct

Mr Rudd replaced Julia Gillard as prime minister the following year. He now claims when Mr Chalmers flew to Canberra to “plead” for his preselection, the Queensland MP “broke down in tears in front of me” in the prime ministerial suite.

Mr Rudd urged the young MP not to waste his political potential by becoming an apprentice of the party’s faceless men.

Labor finance spokesman Jim Chalmers.

Labor finance spokesman Jim Chalmers.Credit:Glenn Hunt

“I concluded by asking Chalmers what he would do if he were in my circumstances right then. Chalmers wasn’t expecting that question,” Mr Rudd recounts.

“He paused. He cried again. And said, ‘I probably wouldn’t have me in the caucus.’”

“Chalmers thanked me for his preselection. He never thanked me for winning his seat for him, which was gone by a million under Gillard. Indeed, I never heard from Chalmers again after I’d left the Parliament.”

The former prime minister’s most savage observations are reserved for Mr Swan, who told Mr Rudd that while he did not support the 2010 coup, he would nevertheless vote for change.

Recounting their last conversation eight years ago, Mr Rudd said he urged Mr Swan to use his influence over Ms Gillard and the factions stop the leadership coup.

“Not only had Swan been treacherous, he’d also been a coward. He didn’t even the have the guts to come and front me and tell me face to face what he had decided to do.”

Mr Rudd said Mr Swan lacked the “cerebral horsepower” of the finance minister Lindsay Tanner and was missing in action during Labor’s battle against the resources industry over the mining tax.

Wayne Swan.

Wayne Swan.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“It was an all-round appalling performance,” Mr Rudd recalls.

Mr Rudd said weak treasurers could improve with careful tuition but that did not apply to Mr Swan because “that assumed there was a basic level of intellectual software capable of being trained, as well as a treasurer sufficiently interested in being trained.”

“In Swan’s case, neither condition existed,” Mr Rudd observed.

Mr Rudd claimed when Euromoney named the Labor treasurer as the world’s best finance minister in 2011, “there was an almost audible dropping of jaw around the departments of Treasury, Finance and Prime Minister and Cabinet”.

“The treasurer should always be one of your top order batsmen. At best, Swan would come to the crease in the low to middle order, often in trouble, always defending his wicket and ever-so-rarely on the front foot.”

Mr Swan also singled out Labor frontbenchers Tony Burke and Jason Clare for criticism. Mr Clare supported Mr Rudd’s 2013 reinstatement because he would win seats for Labor but on election night called for Mr Rudd to quit as leader.


“In the political treachery stakes, Jason Clare doesn’t just have a first-class honours degree; he has a PhD.”

He said Mr Burke and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten felt their respective ministerial appointments to the agriculture and parliamentary secretary for disabilities portfolios were beneath them.

“He was hoping for something more,” Mr Rudd says of Mr Shorten.

“I thought it could be the making of him because it took him out of his normal comfort zones as well as giving him responsibility for a major government reform: the development of Australia’s first National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“I would be proved right, although Bill didn’t really see it that way for a long, long time.”

Latika Bourke is a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age based in London. She has previously worked for Fairfax Media, the ABC and 2UE in Canberra. Latika won the Walkley Award for Young Australian Journalist of the Year in 2010.



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