Cabinet was 11 to 10 in favour of Kevin Rudd’s bid to compete to be the next United Nations’ secretary-general, sources have told Fairfax Media.
The sources said Nationals Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he would support whatever decision Malcolm Turnbull supported. This is when the Prime Minister aborted the cabinet discussion and said he would make a “captain’s call” instead.
He eventually rebuffed Mr Rudd’s quest to compete for the prestigious international position, telling him he lacked the “interpersonal skills” to run for the job.
Fairfax Media has also learnt that the night before the cabinet discussion, Mr Turnbull told his ministers he did not want to have to stare down the barrel of a camera and say Mr Rudd was a fit and proper person for the job.
But at the next day’s cabinet meeting, his ministers either failed to pick up on his coded directive or ignored it, with 11 ministers backing the position of Deputy Liberal Leader and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who was said to have put forward the “DFAT case” in favour of Mr Rudd’s nomination.
Mr Turnbull ended up rolling his deputy when he personally decided to put an end to Mr Rudd’s ambitions, in line with the urgings of the right wing of the Liberal Party. The Prime Minister told the media on Friday that his decision raised a threshold question about Mr Rudd’s character.
“Does the Government believe, do we believe, do I as Prime Minister believe that Mr Rudd is well suited for that role? My considered judgement is that he is not,” Mr Turnbull said.
“Now not everyone is well suited for every role. This is no disparagement of Mr Rudd. He is a former Prime Minister of Australia. But my judgement is that he is not well suited for this particular role.”
Press gallery veteran Laurie Oakes reported the cabinet numbers,which differ from the publicly stated position of the cabinet put forward by Mr Joyce.
“I’ve seen some reports that this was a captain’s pick, it was not. It was a decision of cabinet,” Mr Joyce said. “I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say it was a majority.” There are 23 members of Cabinet meaning the remaining two votes belonging to Mr Turnbull and Mr Joyce swung the decision against Mr Rudd but only after more of the Cabinet said they were in favour of Mr Rudd’s bid compared to those opposed.
The cabinet revelation followed a report in Tuesday’s Financial Review that cabinet was slightly in favour of Mr Rudd’s bid and not leaning against, as had been previously reported.
Mr Rudd has leaked three letters he sent to Mr Turnbull in which he claims the Liberal leader expressly supported his bid. Mr Turnbull denies this and says the act of leaking private correspondence speaks to the former Labor leader’s character.
The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia