Kevin Rudd’s is a quintessential Australian success story. Born on the wrong side of the tracks, he has applied his considerable intelligence and determination to reach the very top (almost) of politics, while his wife has used her wits to create a highly successful multi-million-dollar global employment placement business. It’s a success story that every liberal-minded free marketeer should embrace.

But it’s also a story that Rudd needs to manage with caution as his trajectory towards the Lodge continues its momentum, and today the Opposition Leader tells the Financial Review the arrangements he will make if he becomes PM to prevent a conflict of interest between his position and his wife’s business in securing government job contracts. These precautions include his intention to consult a Liberal opposition leader, and to absent himself from any discussions about Labor policy on job placement services.

There’s also the question of how to handle potential conflicts of interest arising from the Rudds’ $1 million+ share portfolio, which contains holdings in companies affected by government decisions. On this front, the Opposition Leader has made it clear his family shareholdings will be placed in a “blind trust” which would be managed at arm’s length.

Kevin Rudd’s success and wealth is a subject of genuine public interest, as are his plans to manage any potential conflicts of interest. Probably the most fascinating part of the story, though, is the Rudd marriage of new money and new Labor.

A third way perhaps.

Peter Fray

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