‘Government would be mad not to support Rudd’s candidacy’: Leaked letters show Turnbull backed Rudd for UN role

Malcolm Turnbull told former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd he would support his candidacy for a position with the United Nations, explosive new letters show.

The correspondence between the two Australian leaders also reveals Mr Turnbull visited Mr Rudd at his New York apartment, and again face-to-face in his Sydney office in December to confirm his support.

Former PM Kevin Rudd. Source: 7News

In those meetings, the letters show Mr Turnbull assured Mr Rudd Cabinet would support the candidacy for United Nations Secretary General.

“You had always said to me that the Australian Government would be mad not to support my candidature,” Mr Rudd says in one of the letters.

Turnbull refuses to back Kevin Rudd for UN role

The letters will no doubt raise serious questions over Mr Turnbull’s decision not to support Mr Rudd’s UN nomination.

“Do I as Prime Minister believe that Mr Rudd is well suited for that role?” Mr Turnbull said on Friday.

Malcolm Turnbull will not support Kevin Rudd's nomination for a UN role. Source: 7News

“My considered judgement is he is not.”

The letters also reveal Mr Turnbull called Kevin Rudd two hours before Cabinet met on Thursday to tell him neither he nor Cabinet would support his nomination.

Mr Rudd issued a statement on Friday saying it was “a pity” the Government did not support his bid.

Former Australian PM Kevin Rudd. Source: 7News

In the statement, Mr Rudd claims he flew to Sydney requesting a face-to-face meeting with Mr Turnbull on Friday, but was knocked back.

A nomination by the Australian Government would not have granted Mr Rudd the position – he would have become one of 13 candidates from across the globe for the UN job.


April 4

  • Rudd formally asks the Australian Government to nominate him for the position of UN secretary-general.

  • Writes he would need nomination to be lodged by April to give him time before "straw polls" UN selection process in July.

  • Says the government only needs a single experienced officer and support officer to co-ordinate campaign out of New York.

May 1

  • Claims to have been sent messages of support from Turnbull after conversations with foreign minister Julie Bishop in September.

  • Says further assurances of support given by Turnbull at meetings in November and December.

  • Is "shocked" after phone call in May where Turnbull retracts Cabinet support with the view Rudd doesn't have qualifications for the position.

July 28

  • Says feedback from diplomatic missions has been positive.

  • Requests a post-election meeting with Mr Turnbull to put forward case in light of "range of cabinet views".