Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has been appointed as the next ambassador to the United States, despite his role in bringing down Julia Gillard and reputation for being a ‘control freak’.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced Dr Rudd will replace former Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos in February.
‘Dr. Rudd brings unmatched experience to the role,’ Mr Albanese said.
‘He has served as Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, held prominent academic roles and worked extensively in the United States.
‘It is intended that he will commence his posting in early 2023.’
Mr Albanese dismissed questions by reporters about whether Dr Rudd was the right person for the job after he was described as a ‘control freak’ in cables leaked in 2010.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has been appointed as the next ambassador to the United States
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced Dr Rudd will replace former Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos in February
‘Your colleagues have invariably described Kevin Rudd as a psychopath, a micromanager, a control freak,’ a reporter said.
‘Is this the person who your government needs to have in Washington? Are you worried about essentially having a second Foreign Minister in the United States?’
Mr Albanese responded: ‘Kevin Rudd is an outstanding appointment.’
Dr Rudd had previously been described as a ‘control freak’ while he was working as Foreign Affairs Minister between 2010 and 2012.
WikiLeaks had leaked cables sent from the US embassy in Canberra to then-US secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, with Dr Rudd also referred to as a ‘micro-manager’.
One cable said there was ‘persistent criticism from senior civil servants, journalists and parliamentarians that Rudd is a micro-manager obsessed with managing the media cycle rather than engaging in collaborative decision making’.
Dr Rudd was Australia’s 26th prime minister from 2007 to 2010 and took the job again in 2013 before Labor lost government.
He was foreign minister between 2010 and 2012.
He was ousted as prime minister by Julia Gillard, who was then herself ousted by Dr Rudd.
‘Dr. Rudd brings unmatched experience to the role,’ Mr Albanese said at the press conference on Tuesday
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has been appointed as the next ambassador to the United State
Dr Rudd released a statement saying he was ‘honoured’ to be nominated for the position.
‘Australia currently faces its most challenging security and diplomatic environment for many decades,’ he said.
‘Our national interest continues to be served, as it has for decades past, by the deepest and most effective strategic engagement of the United States in our region.
‘Our alliance isn’t merely grounded in our common security and economic interests, but also across generations of friendship between our peoples and our shared values of freedom, democracy and the universality of human rights.’
Dr Rudd said he looked forward to taking over the role from his predecessor.
‘As the Australian Government’s representative in Washington, I look forward to continuing the work of Ambassador Sinodinos in strengthening the bonds between our two countries,’ he said.
The ambassador to the United States is considered to be one of the most prestigious roles in political diplomacy.
Mr Albanese made the announcement as Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong prepares to travel to China for the first ministerial visit since 2019
Dr Rudd, who is head of the Asia Society, has a strong knowledge of the US, as well as China, and has extensive links to the global community.
Former chief executive of the Australian Industry Group Heather Ridout has also been announced as the first woman to be appointed as the new consul-general.
Mr Albanese made the announcement as Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong prepares to travel to China for the first ministerial visit since 2019.
The trip will coincide with the 50-year anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, after former prime minister Gough Whitlam made the journey to China in 1972.
Senator Wong’s visit is the first time a minister has stepped foot in China since 2019, and follows years of a deteriorating relationship.