Do you doubt Kevin Rudd’s honesty? That’s the question Sydney’s Daily Telegraph posed this morning at the end of its story on Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd having told a porky about neither he nor his staff being involved in plans by Channel 7’s Sunrise program to stage a “fake” dawn service at Long Tan on Anzac Day.

The Tele’s anger is understandable. It broke the story of the Sunrise shenanigans on page one on Sunday under the headline “Rudd’s insult to Vietnam vets” and accompanied it with a blistering editorial criticising the Labor Leader for cheapening the Anzac day of remembrance — “a national disgrace” and evidence of “miserably flawed leadership”.

Vietnam veterans, the paper reported, have been offended by Labor leader Kevin Rudd’s request for a “fake” dawn service so he can commemorate Anzac Day live on Channel Seven’s breakfast show from Long Tan in Vietnam.

The plan for an earlier 4.15am service to coincide with the peak 7.15am morning TV ratings period were hatched by Mr Rudd’s office and staff of the Sunrise show several weeks ago.

The paper had barely hit the streets before AAP was reporting that the claim that Mr Rudd had asked Vietnamese authorities to hold an Anzac Day dawn service early so it could be broadcast live on television was fabricated — “absolutely false and without foundation”.

A chastened Daily Telegraph quickly dropped the story until it obtained evidence in the form of emails showing Mr Rudd’s personal secretary Mary Mawhinney was directly warned two weeks before the story broke that the plan would offend Vietnam veterans.

It was with seeming delight that “Rudd’s False Dawn – Labor leader admits office knew of fake Anzac Service” was back on page one of at least the first editions this morning although the version on the paper’s website differs slightly.

The temptation to raise further questions about Mr Rudd’s ability to tell the truth was too much for Federal Health Minister and chief government head kicker Tony Abbott to resist. While Mr Rudd was making another of his weekly appearances on Sunrise this morning, Mr Abbott appeared on Nine’s Today program to join the Tele in asking about the Opposition Leader’s truthfulness.

Having failed with earlier attempts to attack Mr Rudd’s character over his meetings with Brian Burke, the Government had been laying off the personal foibles. Now, with the Tele onside and the Nine Network happy to put the boot in to its rival Seven network, character assassination is back on the agenda.

Mr Rudd has surely given them the ammunition. While he can blame his staff for the Anzac Day affair, he has to take personal responsibility for exposing himself as a politician not prepared to practise what he preaches when it comes to climate change.

In short, Mr Rudd earlier this week showed he is a hypocrite. While outlining plans for the rest of us to change our lifestyle to lessen carbon dioxide emissions he admitted driving himself around in a gas guzzling Ford Territory provided by the Government.

According to the assessment of the Federal Government’s Green Vehicle Guide it would be difficult for someone concerned about environmental damage to make a worse choice than the Territory. It rates but 2.5 stars when CO2 emissions, fuel consumption and air pollution are taken into consideration.

The Toyota Prius, which Mr Rudd incorrectly pretended on radio yesterday he could not get on the government’s freebie motor car for MPs plan, gets six stars. Even the large Ford Falcon rates better than the Territory.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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