Former prime minister Kevin Rudd departs ALP meeting with new NSW Senator elect Sam Dastyari at Parliament House in Canberra on Friday. Photo: Andrew Meares
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd gave his farewell speech as leader of the Australian Labor Party, telling his colleagues there were no hard feelings, even for his enemies.
”To those who have made these criticisms, I bear none of you any malice,” Mr Rudd told his caucus colleagues on Friday.
Instead, Mr Rudd said he wished nothing but ”collective success” for everyone in the Labor Party. This presumably included former trade minister Craig Emerson, who accused Mr Rudd of “treachery”; former MP Steve Gibbons who called Mr Rudd a “psychopath” and others who claimed Mr Rudd was such an extreme micromanager that he paralysed his entire government.
In vacating the Labor leadership, which will now be contested between Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten, Mr Rudd told his colleagues Labor’s result in the election ensured they had “preserved the party as a viable fighting force for the future”.
“Most importantly we have preserved among you the next generation of Labor leaders,” he said.
Mr Rudd praised his colleagues with varying degrees of enthusiasm. He could “not have hoped for a more loyal and more effective deputy” than Mr Albanese. Senate leader Penny Wong was “ever sensible and ever reliable”. Former treasurer Chris Bowen had “effortlessly prevailed” over Joe Hockey “in every single debate in the campaign”.
One of Rudd’s keenest supporters, the relatively anonymous Richard Marles, had been “one of our great achievers in the region and the world”.
Mr Rudd not only explained who he was (“a passionate believer in the democratisation and de-factionalisation of our party”) but also who he wasn’t (former United States president Theodore Roosevelt).
“Colleagues, I am no Teddy Roosevelt,” Mr Rudd declared, after quoting the great Republican president, who said that “his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat”.
Connoisseurs will recognise Mr Rudd’s fondness for comparing himself unfavourably with great historical figures.
After beating Kim Beazley for the Labor leadership in late 2006, Mr Rudd explained: ”As I keep saying, I’m no Mother Teresa.”
”It’s a difficult and bloody business.