Let me correct the misrepresentations in his Rudd profile:

  • Hartcher claims that “in a particularly distasteful passage of his
    diary, Latham mocked Rudd for weeping after his mother’s death.” In
    fact, my diary entry for 22 October 2004 records that “Rudd was in a
    very fragile condition. I told him to leave work and go back to
    Brisbane and rest with his family.” Having wept in front of Rudd about
    my mother in December 2003 (as recorded on page 253 of the Diaries), to mock Rudd in these circumstances would have been to mock myself (and my mother).

    My
    bigger point, however, conveniently overlooked by Hartcher, was that
    Rudd swore on his mother’s grave he was loyal to me, even though Caucus
    members such as Trish Crossin were saying that Rudd had called them
    after the election loss to say my leadership was on probation. After my
    Diaries were published, Rudd denied that any aspect of this
    conversation took place, even his tears for his mother’s passing. This
    was, by far, the most dishonest and immoral response to my book by any
    individual.

  • Hartcher writes that “thirteen days after the Boxing Day
    tsunami struck, killing about 280,000 people, Latham wrote in his diary
    that he was having a lovely holiday and did not want to comment on the
    tsunami.” As readers of the book will know, the situation was far more
    complex than the impression left by Hartcher. Another pancreatitis
    attack and my decision to resign from the Labor leadership and
    Parliament also had something to do with it.
  • Hartcher starts his article on Rudd by describing my Diaries
    as a “serial character assassination.” This is the common theme pursued
    by journalists criticised in the book: they cannot see past their own
    references. Independent reviewers such as John Button, Robert Manne,
    Neal Blewett, Michael Duffy and Stephen Mayne have been very positive
    about the book’s significance. Indeed, earlier this week the head of a
    leading Australian think tank wrote to me, describing the Diaries
    as “a fantastic read and I am sure they will become a truly important
    historical document.” Kevin Rudd, of course, knows that the entries
    about him are true. That’s why, along with every other Labor MP, he
    hasn’t taken a personal explanation in Parliament to deny any of the
    specific conversations and incidents recorded in the Diaries. To do so would be to mislead the Parliament.
  • Finally, Hartcher claims that the Diaries try to fit up
    Rudd as “some sort of American agent of influence.” Again, quite
    conveniently, he cuts short the relevant quote (on page 212), omitting
    my conclusion: “But a Maryland candidate in our midst, I doubt it.”

Moreover,
Hartcher has ignored the serious questions I posed in this particular
entry regarding Rudd’s credibility: “There are some missing periods in
his CV and a general mystery about the guy. If he grew up in poverty in
rural Queensland, where did the posh accent come from?” Part of the
Rudd folklore (repeated once more in the Hartcher profile) is that
after his father’s death in the late 1960s, his family was evicted from
their dairy farm and forced to live in abject poverty.

A
possible answer to my question was, in fact, under Hartcher’s nose but,
yet again, he chose to ignore it. Hartcher writes that “after his
father’s death, (Rudd) spent two years boarding at Marist Brothers
College in Brisbane’s Ashgrove.” Rudd himself has made no mention of
his time at a private boarding college, either on his electorate
website, in his Who’s Who and Wikipedia entries or in his 1998
maiden speech to Parliament – a serious set of omissions. On each
occasion, he has mentioned government schools (Eumundi Primary and
Nambour High) but never Marist Brothers Ashgrove, and its fees of
$16,000 pa (today’s cost equivalent).

This is one of the gaps in
Rudd’s CV that worries members of the Labor Caucus and even some
members of the general public. In response to the Hartcher profile,
several people have contacted me this week asking: if the Rudd family
was poverty stricken after their father’s death, how did they afford to
send Kevin to a private boarding college in Brisbane? If Rudd is not
willing to tell the truth about his school education and financial
circumstances, how can he be taken seriously as a candidate for the
Labor leadership?

Hartcher has allowed these pressing questions
and contradictions to pass unanswered in his article. In his sycophancy
towards Rudd, he has missed the obvious: Rudd’s CV gaps amount to a
significant credibility gap. In trying to discover the true Kevin Rudd,
Hartcher should have spent more time in Nambour and less in China.

The real babushka doll is Rudd himself.

CRIKEY: We contacted Kevin Rudd’s office today, but they chose not to respond.