Kevin Rudd is a God-fearing man and media tart par excellence, but that doesn’t stop Labor’s new Messiah from occasionally getting on the phone and delivering a foul-mouthed earful to a media outlet that has done the wrong thing.

And so it was back on 31 October, 2002, when the phone rang in the second of the five Crikey bunkers and our admin guy Stefo took the call.

 

We’d been cheeky enough to add Kruddy to our very large political nepotism list on the basis that his daughter had been spotted working in the office. That phone call led to the following square-up item the next day:

Labor’s foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd got on the blower yesterday and showered our innocent admin man Stefo with expletives and legal threats while asserting that his daughter has only worked in his office as a volunteer. Writs were set to rain down upon us if we hadn’t corrected this grievous slur by 3pm yesterday so we hope 9am today is OK for Kruddy.

Even Honest John Howard once employed his daughter on the public payroll as a staffer so it isn’t the end of the world. For the record, Kruddy has not arranged for any taxpayer cash to land in his daughter’s bank account and Australia is clearly the better for her generous volunteer work.

Fair enough but it was interesting that Kruddy was happy to swear and curse at whoever answered the phone, rather than ask to speak to those responsible.

The only time I ever met Rudd provided an interesting insight too. It was the 1994 Council of Australian Governments meeting in Hobart and I was spinning for Kennett and Stockdale and had been out to dinner with Herald Sun reporter John Ferguson, then political correspondent for The Advertiser.

Kruddy was Director-General of Wayne Goss’s Cabinet Office and was relaxing in the bar at the Sheraton around midnight with his NSW counterpart, Roger Wilkins, when the four of us struck up a conversation.

On hearing Ferguson was from Rupert’s Adelaide daily, Kruddy sneered: “South Australia is one big community service obligation for the rest of the country.”

Given the Akerperson’s claims on the Insiders couch yesterday that Kevin won’t go down well in WA or SA, he’ll no doubt be hoping The Advertiser doesn’t dust this one off for the benefit of its readers any time soon.

Peter Fray

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