16 November 2008

Was Rudd's phone leak a slight against Bush?

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd showed his contempt for parliament during question time when Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull pressed him for some basic answers on the damaging leak of the exchange between himself and President Bush in which Mr Bush supposedly asked what the G20 was. When asked about apples, Mr Rudd talks about oranges:

Mr TURNBULL (2.34 pm)—My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the account in the Australian on 25 October of a highly confidential telephone conversation between him and the President of the United States, an account which acclaimed the Prime Minister’s diplomatic knowledge as much as it denigrated that of the US President. Given the Prime Minister now says the Australian article was factually wrong, why did he take no steps to correct the record until after the White House took the unprecedented step of expressly rejecting this self-serving story in the Washington Post three days later?
Mr RUDD—I thank the member for Wentworth for his question. The purpose of my call to the President of the United States was to discuss the importance of the G20. The President was fully aware that was what the conversation was about. We supported the decision by the President to host that meeting, which I will be attending over the course of this weekend—on Saturday. It is an important meeting, it is important for the country’s future, and we will be cooperating closely not just with the government of the United States but with other governments on the key challenges on the global agenda, namely, the global financial crisis, global financial regulation and global economic growth. We will get on with the business of conducting what is an appropriate level of policy coordination with our friends and partners. We will do so in the future. It is the right course of action and we have our sleeves rolled up and intend to get on with it.

Source: House of Representatives Official Hansard

Mr Turnbull asked four questions on the matter, and on each occasion Mr Rudd responded with blather that was irrelevant to the question. Evasive answers from politicians are certainly not unheard of, but usually they are relevant. Rudd wastes question time delivering political commentary in an attempt to make his silence on the matter less conspicuous.

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Bush gave Rudd the impression that he did not share the same enthusiasm for a summit of the G20, which Australia is a member of, and consequently aroused resentment from our narcissistic Prime Minister. Rudd is a man consumed by fantasies of grandiosity and would be highly sensitive to anything that undermines the vision that he has for himself. If Bush preferred to limit discussions of the financial crisis to the more prestigious G8, which would exclude Australia, then it is quite possible that Bush provoked Rudd's vindictive streak and Rudd sought to devalue Bush by leaking aspects of the conversation that would embarrass him and draw more attention to the G20 group of nations.

We have to wonder, incidentally, why Mr Rudd is still referring to Mr Turnbull as the Member for Wentworth, as shown in the transcript above, even though he became Leader of the Opposition two months ago.

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