With the imminent arrival of Kevin Rudd to Rome, Crikey understands that current Ambassador to Italy Amanda Vanstone actually invited the Prime Minister to stay at the Embassy with her (and Gus the dog of course). This in itself isn’t unusual. Ambassadors of the day who happen to be mates with the Prime Minister could certainly count on their friend sleeping over — but in this case it’s not going to happen.

First, Vanstone’s initial appointment caused howls of indignation from the then opposition and even raised eyebrows from those in Government.

Readers will recall John Howard negotiated the job with Vanstone then told then Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer after the deal was done. It was too late to stop it which caused ructions because the then ambassador, Peter Woolcott, was pulled out despite having been given assurances he’d be there for the long haul and on that premise had set up his kids schooling.

On top of all that Vanstone and her weimaraner Gus have attracted some unwanted and unusual publicity — first the appointment itself, followed by Gus’ tearing of a Roman policeman’s pants and his undiplomatic attack on the Ambassador of Pakistan.

But the string of sagas didn’t end there. In the lead up to the G8 meeting, which Rudd places in the very important basket, it was discovered in Canberra that Vanstone hadn’t done all that much preparation — in fact Crikey learned there was hardly any done at all.

In fact, as Crikey reported, her second in command walked out in frustration and a team of Canberra-based diplomats were hurriedly cobbled together and despatched at great haste to Rome. As we speak they are currently burning the midnight oil to make sure there won’t be any prime ministerial tizzies when the caravan hits town. This involves getting the background papers together, confirming Rudd’s agenda and firming up his schedule.

Rudd will want to make absolutely certain that what he presents to the G8 meeting will be spot on – both politically and diplomatically – and Vanstone and her team must do everything possible to keep our perfectionist Prime Minister’s temper under control.

In any case Rudd would be wary of having too much contact with Gus the bitey dog — the thought of turning up in the Vatican with torn pants for his meeting with the Pope wouldn’t be appealing.

It would be a fair guess that Amanda and Kevin might have a serious heart to heart about the former senator’s diplomatic future — but Vanstone being Vanstone means she does have an ace up her sleeve. Crikey understands that when she negotiated the contract with Howard she insisted on getting a full payout in the event of an early recall. So watch this space.