Government Refuses To Back Former PM Kevin Rudd For UN Chief

    "He is not well suited for this particular role."

    Malcolm Turnbull has made a "captain's call" not to nominate former prime minister Kevin Rudd as a candidate for the next United Nations secretary-general.

    Sergio Dionisio / Getty Images

    This move effectively ends Rudd's chances for the UN's top job, as he's unlikely to be considered without his home country's backing.

    Sources from inside the meeting told BuzzFeed News Turnbull was left to “discern the mood of the meeting” and make his own personal decision on the endorsement.

    The lengthy debate on the decision split the Cabinet. Foreign minister Julie Bishop and attorney-general George Brandis spoke in favour of Rudd outlining his "suitability" for the job, but there was strong opposition from the right-wing of the party, including immigration minister Peter Dutton and treasurer Scott Morrison.

    The prime minister called Rudd on Friday morning to tell him he wasn't supporting his bid because he didn't think he was "well-suited" for the job.

    Stefan Postles / Getty Images

    "When the Australian government nominates a person for a job, particularly an international job like this, the threshold question is: Do we believe the person, the nominee, the would-be nominee is well suited for that position? My judgement is that Mr Rudd is not."

    But he refused to elaborate as to why Rudd was not suitable for the job.

    The PM said his decision had "nothing to do with Mr Rudd's party" and was only about his suitability for the role.

    "I can assure you that this is not a partisan issue."

    Current secretary-general Ban Ki-moon's term expires at the end of this year and 12 other candidates, including former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, are officially in the running.

    Pool / Getty Images

    Rudd has previously been downplaying his chances because the job is usually decided by a rotation system and it is Eastern Europe's turn. There are also strong calls for a woman to take the position.

    The decision is being called a victory for the conservatives. Senior Liberals have been lining up to list Rudd's flaws arguing his temper, colourful descriptions of the Chinese and micro-managing should rule him out for a job on the world stage.

    Stefan Postles / Getty Images

    Treasurer Scott Morrison quoted House of Cards when asked by 2GB Radio whether he agreed the former Labor leader wasn't qualified for the job.

    "You may well say that Ray, I couldn't possible comment," he said.

    Cabinet secretary Arthur Sinodinos spoke against Rudd's nomination, questioning why the government should back him when Labor wouldn't for a full term as prime minister.

    "I'm not spilling any secrets to say there would be a lot of people on our side of politics who say they have reservations about supporting Kevin," Sinodinos told ABC's Lateline on Monday.

    Former speaker Bronwyn Bishop issued this brutal burn: "if you have got a problem with the United Nations and you really want to see its powers lessened, send Kevin".

    Liberal backbencher Cory Bernardi gave a similar decree, saying the only reason to nominate Rudd would be to destroy the UN from within.

    "His megalomania, his narcissism, his arrogance and the dysfunction [mean] we should not inflict him on the United Nations," Bernardi said.

    Former Abbott minister Eric Abetz said Australia shouldn't back Rudd because he's a "narcissist, a micro-manager, an impulsive control freak and a psychopath".

    Graham Denholm / Getty Images

    The Tasmanian senator urged his colleagues to "not inflict Rudd on the UN", arguing he doesn't have the qualities to be UN chief.

    "Any cursory glance at Mr Rudd's temperament and capacity would show that Mr Rudd is poorly qualified for this role and if Australia were to seek to inflict Kevin Rudd onto the United Nations, it would be a mistake," he said on Thursday.

    The prime minister's assistant minister, James McGrath, said he wouldn’t trust Rudd to “operate a toaster”, and would rather back former NSW Labor premier Kristina Keneally's dog for the job.

    Ready to serve. #Molly #CanineFaction @JamesMcGrathLNP @Kieran_Gilbert #AMagenda

    Acting Labor leader Tanya Plibersek has lashed out at the government calling its decision "small-minded", "short-term", "embarrassing" and "misguided".

    Stefan Postles / Getty Images

    "I can't imagine anyone better qualified for the job than Kevin Rudd," she said on Thursday.

    Plibersek accused the prime minister of not having the courage to make decisions that put the national interest above factional interests.

    "The petty small-mined right-wing of the Liberal party have Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop on a short leash."

    Independent Bob Katter agreed with Labor, saying opposing Rudd's nomination is "petty, partisan and political".

    Labor says the move sets a precedent against bipartisanship for future appointments, and goes against everything Labor did while in power.

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    While PM, Rudd appointed more than 10 former Liberals or National party members to embassies, commissions, boards and panels.

    Including former Howard ministers Brendan Nelson as ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union and NATO, and Peter Costello to the board of the Future Fund.

    Nelson gave his support to Rudd, calling him "tailor-made" for the role.

    Turnbull has yet to appoint a Labor person to a plumb overseas posting.

    Labor's Anthony Albanese said it doesn't matter if Rudd isn't the most qualified for the job, the government should back him because he is the only Australian.

    Cole Bennetts / Getty Images

    “It is beyond belief that there is any question over whether Australia will nominate an Australian. We’re at the Olympics in a couple of weeks - guess what, we back the Australian,” he told Today on Friday morning.

    When asked if Australia should support “the best man or woman for the job”, Albanese replied: “You do not. You back the Australian at the Olympics.”

    Albanese, who was briefly Rudd's deputy prime minister, said he played an "extraordinary role" during the global financial crisis and is "distinguished in terms of international relations, he’s a fluent Mandarin speaker, he can engage in our region and in the world".

    Wonder how Kevin's feeling?

    BuzzFeed News

    Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

    Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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