Kevin Rudd

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia

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  • In-Country Power
  • International Power
  • Respect
  • Military Strength
  • Intelligence
  • Special Skill: Secret Sino-file

Official Stats

  • Official Title: Minister for Foreign Affairs, former PM
  • Government: Well-established democracy
  • Years Left in Office: Indefinite: no term limits
  • Political Classification: Center-left
  • Education: BA, MS in Asian Studies and Chinese
  • Age: 66 (born September 20, 1957)

Kevin Rudd Facts and Information

Important Points

  • Rudd was a center-left Prime Minister of Australia
  • As a center-left guy, Rudd strongly supports policies for social programs and to stop global warming
  • However, Rudd is fiscally and socially more conservative
  • Rudd is increasing relations and trade with Asia, specifically China
  • Rudd's Australia is still a core member of Team West, and a staunch ally of the US

The Rundown

G’day mates! Time to head to the land down under to catch up with the biggest, baddest crocodile hunter of them all: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Hahahahaha…okay, that’s a load of Canberra kangaroo crap! Kevin Rudd is more like a big cuddly koala bear! He’s just an adorable fuzzy little foreigner that I think you should know about, as he is a mover and shaker that is changing the outreach of his Aussies well beyond the outback into Asia. Say what? Well throw another shrimp on the barbie and stay with me here to learn more about this serious sinophile and his significance…

Kevin Rudd is the current Prime Minister of Australia and leader of the center-left political party appropriately named the Australian Labor Party (ALP) which is the equivalent of the Democratic Party in the US. Our main Aussie man is basically a career politician, and lifelong geek…in a hilariously good way. The dude won a ‘Youth Speaks for Australia’ contest when he was 17; he probably didn’t get laid for a decade after that. A studious boy, Rudd was born on a small dairy farm in Queensland, lost his dad at an early age, and helped work the farm until it was foreclosed on; all of these things make him a real ‘man of the people’ which gives him some rapport with the working classes, but he is savvy enough to know how to handle the upper crust too. In this respect, I liken him to former US President Bill Clinton…well, without all the sex with interns stuff.

But Rudd ain’t no liberal pansy: on the farm he picked up his lifelong passions of horse-riding and gun-shooting, albeit at clay targets instead of killer crocs.  Again, this resonates well with his fellow countrymen by adding to his image as a real Australian, not some silver-spoon having, elitist bureaucrat-babble-talking wank.  Remember, this is the manly-man country with the Outback, the big beer cans, and the highest ratio of crocodile wrestlers on planet earth. Except when they go up against manta-rays! Oh!, too soon?

Back to Kevin Rudd: this dude is as worldly as he is smart. He graduated with honors in Asian Studies from Australian National University, having majored in Chinese language and Chinese history (what a genius thing to do 30 years ago…he was way ahead of his time.) Already proficient in speaking Mandarin Chinese, he got even better at it by completing a post-graduate degree in the language from National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, Taiwan.  Mr. Rudd even picked up a Chinese alias, Lù Kèwén (???). Damn! How many world leaders do you know that speak fluent Chinese and have a Chinese name? Okay, you better have at least said ‘Hu Jintao’.  This dedication to all things sino- is a really important feature to know about Kevin, and how he is changing the landscape of Australia. So let’s get to that….

After schooling, Rudd worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs and was posted overseas at embassies in Sweden and China, and upon returning home after a decade abroad started working his way up the political chain in the Queensland Labor party. Eventually becoming a powerful bureaucrat, Rudd initiated some exceptionally forward-thinking programs like development of a national program for teaching foreign languages in schools as well as promoting a policy of developing an Asian languages and cultures program…which was later adopted across the entire country and dubbed the “the Rudd Report”. Dudes, could this guy be any more genius? Don’t you wish the US had done something like this years ago? Your government does.

After a stint as Senior China Consultant by the accounting firm KPMG Australia, in 1998 Rudd entered national politics as a member of Parliament by winning a seat in the Australian House of Representatives.  Rising quickly to the top leadership, he became Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2001-2005. Shadow Minister? How sinister! Actually, Australia has this cool ass system called the Shadow Cabinet of Australia which is a senior group of opposition spokespeople who form an alternative cabinet to the government’s, whose members ‘shadow’ or ‘mark’ each respective individual member of the government and form alternative policies for their party. It would be the equivalent in the US to the Republican Party (now the minority) having a shadow cabinet which follows President Obama’s cabinet since he is from the Democratic Party (the majority party in charge).

Rudd is so smart, savvy, and skilled, in 2005 he was given expanded responsibilities as the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Security and, also, the Shadow Minister for Trade. Being a major shaper of Labor Party policy, it seems natural that he then became leader of the entire party in 2006 and therefore the contender for the top slot in the 2007 national election. And now we are caught up: the center-left Australian Labor Party, led by Kevin Rudd, defeated the incumbent center-right government led by Prime Minister John Howard who had been in power since 1996…thus breaking a very successful 12 year run of center-right rule. Again, just like Bill Clinton did in the US.

Oh, but unlike Bill Clinton, nobody in Australia has a problem with girlie scandals: during the 2007 election campaign, it was revealed that Rudd had partied at a strip club in New York City back in 2003. However, instead of this mud-slinging hurting him, his popularity actually increased at the polls! Hahahahaha got to love the Aussies!

In his left-leaning capacity, Prime Minister Rudd supports a lot of the typical liberal policies. Yeah yeah yeah, he is all about the stopping global warming (he immediately ratified the Kyoto protocol), fighting climate change by pushing carbon emissions caps in his country, pulling Aussie troops out of Iraq, curing homelessness, increasing education, being more humane and perhaps more open with Australian immigration policy, putting a computer on every Australian kid’s desk….all kinds of standard liberal stuff like that.

He is also increasingly critical of full-on free market capitalism, having said “that the great neo-liberal experiment of the past 30 years has failed”, and that “Neo-liberalism and the free-market fundamentalism it has produced has been revealed as little more than personal greed dressed up as an economic philosophy. And, ironically, it now falls to social democracy to prevent liberal capitalism from cannibalising itself.”  Mr. Rudd is promoting a move to “social capitalism” by people like himself and US President Obama to “support a global financial system that properly balances private incentive with public responsibility”. Interesting stuff in a new age.

In more sappy shenanigans, his first order of business as Australia’s leader was to issue a formal government apology to their Aboriginal population which has been decimated and demoralized by the European invaders for 200 years. Simply recognizing and apologizing for the plight of their native peoples was a big step for the Aussies to take, a move which was vehemently shunned by the former administration. Sniff, sniff…I have a little liberal tear in my eye…

But hold on! While all that is nice and dandy, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is a very atypical center-left kind of guy. Unlike most liberal politicians, Rudd is a staunch conservative when it comes to fiscal policy and government spending, vowing to reel in years of over-spending by his center-right predecessors. Rudd is not fully anti-war either: he totally supports the US mission in Afghanistan and is big on anti-terrorism at home. And he is actually quite socially conservative too: Rudd is a big Anglican church-going guy, and a an opponent of gay marriage. Mix that in with his horsemanship and rifle skills, and you have the making of a 21st century new age Aussie Malboro Man. Minus the smokes.

But why is this dude so important for you to know? Because Kevin Rudd is changing the political and economic outlook of the kangaroo country, which in turn is affecting the US and the entire Pacific Rim region. Now, Australia ain’t no nuclear power, they ain’t on the UN Security Council, and don’t have a world power status military or economy….BUT they are a rich country that does have a sizable economy which supplies shit-tons of natural resources to China and Asia in general, they do have a significant regional security presence, they are a part of ‘Team West’, and they are a staunch ally of the US/UK and generally support US foreign policy. Generally. But that is changing.

As a lifelong serious sinophile—meaning he loves and respects all things Chinese—Rudd has seen the writing on the wall for Australia’s future: it lies more in Asia than it does in jolly old England or in the US. Trade between China and Australia has grown sevenfold this decade, making China Australia’s largest trading partner. Chinese investment in Australia, while still small compared with its investment in the United States, is mushrooming. Without pissing off his US and UK allies, Prime Minister Rudd has been strengthening trade and political relations with China and other Asian countries ever since taking office. He has to. The world has changed, and he is bringing Australia into the new reality.

At a time when China has risen to re-assume its world power status, Australia has put a Chinese-speaking, Chinese-history-knowing, Chinese-food-eating Prime Minister in charge. What magnificent timing. It’s not all tea and fortune cookies though: Rudd has to balance his country’s ideological and security ties with the West with its increasing economic reliance on the East. He has to balance pushing for human rights and supporting the US military against China buying mega-billions of dollars of Australian goods. So far, Lù Kèwén is doing a masterful job and his approval ratings remain high in country, in China, and in the world.

Good luck to the main man from the Land Down Under. And thanks to the classic 80’s band Men at Work for their epic Australian ballad for that reference.

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