The Australian’s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell would surely have had a pretty clear idea that Kevin Rudd – godfather to Mitchell’s son after all – is probably richer than Malcolm Turnbull.

Alas, it was The Bulletin which this week revealed the scale and profitability of Therese Rudd’s Ingeus job placement empire.

With 1300 staff, revenues of $175 million and a 2005-06 profit of $8.8 million, Therese Rudd should be knocking on the door of the BRW Rich List, which last year had a cut-off of $130 million.

The rest of the media is now finally cottoning on to what a cracking story this is – and the enormous and untenable conflicts that will inevitably flow if the Rudds finish up in The Lodge.

The Liberals are in a difficult bind because it doesn’t come naturally for them to attack someone for being successful in business.

And the Kevin Rudd media honeymoon is such that no-one has yet stated the bleeding office: The Rudds should sever all ties with their business insofar as it profits directly from Federal government contracts.

It’s not good enough to say that Rudd would exempt himself from Cabinet or that Therese will no longer lead negotiations with the Federal Government.

The Bracks Government inflicted serious damage on Liberal leader Ted Baillieu, whose family is valued at $317 million by BRW, for claiming he would step out of Cabinet every time he had a conflict. They ran television ads showing a revolving cabinet chair.

Whilst Ted was in strife for owning 40 stocks worth about $4 million, The SMH reports today that Therese Rudd owns 18 stocks worth more than $1 million. However, change is on the way it seems:

He said last year he would tackle any perceived conflicts of interest by arranging for his family shareholdings to be placed in a “blind trust”, where they would be managed at arm’s length. A spokesperson for Mr Rudd said yesterday the process of putting in such measures was “significantly under way”.

If you accept that that it is inappropriate even to be aware of investments you have in companies like CSL, which enjoys a government-sponsored plasma monopoly, how on earth can your family make millions from direct government contracts?

We’ve even got Rudd’s deputy and industrial relations spokesman, Julia Gillard, delegating policy commentary on the Job Network to South Australian senator Penny Wong because the leadership Dream Team is clearly hopelessly conflicted.

Outsourcing and privatisation is something the ALP generally rejects, yet it seems to be happy to enrich private companies such as Therese Rudd’s when it comes to job placement.

This is an absolute no-brainer: it’s time to sell, Kevin. Take the money and run.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey