When it comes to public appointments, the Coalition is notoriously partisan. When Labor was in government, it appointed Coalition figures like Peter Costello (the Future Fund board), Tim Fischer (ambassador to the Holy See) and Brendan Nelson (ambassador to NATO) to major positions.

The Coalition not only refuses to appoint Labor luminaries to diplomatic or board positions, but under Tony Abbott it adopted a policy of not even renewing the appointments of people who had been appointed by Labor, as if the taint of political opponents was so offensive they couldn’t even bear to endure it indirectly.

Now Kevin Rudd is the target of attacks from Coalition MPs in his campaign for secretary-general of the United Nations.

This time, however, they are right.

While Rudd had some important successes as PM — most notably his world-leading response to the global financial crisis — his management and personal style was arrogant and toxic, he was indecisive, obsessed with polling and unwilling to trust his own colleagues. After losing the top job, he was treacherous and obsessed with regaining it, yet uninterested in working out what he’d do with it if he ever got it back.

The United Nations is dysfunctional and flawed enough without being led by Rudd. Australia should not support his candidacy. Instead, it should look across the Tasman, to former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark. That is, if the Turnbull government can stomach her Labour background.

Peter Fray

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