Kevin Rudd has taken to Twitter to thank Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for backing him for the United Nations top job, saying “unfortunately” the prime minister disagreed.
Australia won’t be nominating Mr Rudd for secretary-general of the UN even though he claims Malcolm Turnbull had told him Australia would be “mad” not to support him.
Mr Turnbull said on Friday the government would not back the former Labor prime minister because he didn’t believe he was suited for the role.
The prime minister told Mr Rudd of the decision on the phone on Friday just before publicly announcing it.
Mr Rudd took to Twitter to express his disappointment, offering his deep gratitude to friends, colleagues and supporters and thanking Ms Bishop and her ministerial colleagues for their support.
“Unfortunately PM disagreed,” he wrote.
“So there won’t be an Australian candidate for UN Sec Gen. I wish all the other candidates well.”
The prime minister has refused to publicly detail the reasons why he believed Mr Rudd was not suited.
Late on Friday Mr Rudd released three letters he had sent to Mr Turnbull in which he refers to the prime minister’s apparent support.
In the second letter, Mr Rudd said he was “shocked” the prime minister told him he no longer supported his bid after “You had always said to me that the Australian government would be `mad’ not to support my candidature.”
He wrote another letter this week asking for a personal meeting to “simply ask for the right to be heard”.
After Mr Turnbull announced his decision, Mr Rudd said it was a “pity” the government did not support him and that the prime minister would not explain the decision in person, even though they were both in Sydney at the same time.
“It would have reflected well on what our nation can offer to the world – as a middle power with relationships across the world, including the developing world, smaller states, the Commonwealth, our Pacific Island friends and of course our partners in Asia,” Mr Rudd said in a statement.
Mr Turnbull said the decision had nothing to do with Mr Rudd being a former Labor leader, pointing to Kim Beazley’s appointment as US ambassador.
Ms Bishop and Attorney-General George Brandis are understood to have supported Mr Rudd’s nomination, but several conservative ministers including Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Treasurer Scott Morrison spoke against it.
Labor Leader Bill Shorten accused Mr Turnbull of putting “his own interests ahead of our nation’s”, while frontbencher Anthony Albanese said the prime minister was “pathetic”.
Acting Labor leader Tanya Plibersek, who supported Julia Gillard over Mr Rudd for the party leadership, said the decision undermined Mr Turnbull’s authority and proved Labor’s point he had “shrunk in the office of prime minister”.
It is possible Australia could back former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark.