After switching his campaign focus to diplomacy and national security, the Prime Minister last night used the unfolding events in Damascus to skewer the Opposition Leader over his foreign policy credentials.
In a scathing assessment, Mr Rudd said Mr Abbott was impulsive, could rush to judgment on Syria and did not have the statesman-like qualities of former Liberal prime minister John Howard or former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull.
“I sometimes question, I really do question having known Mr Abbott for a long long time, whether he really has the temperament for that sort of thing,” Mr Rudd told the Seven Network’s Today Tonight.
“You’ve got to sit back, think calmly, reflect and then work through what the best decision is. And temperament, judgment and experience are quite important.
“He doesn’t have a background in this field.”
Just days after the apparent use of chemical weapons resulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians in Syria, Mr Rudd said he found Mr Abbott often displayed impulsive tendencies and still had a reputation as a Hawkish attack-dog with a background in boxing.
“You know what his background is,” the Prime Minister said.
“He’s been in parliament for 20 years, 19 of which he was the great pugilist you know. And in the last 12 months he’s suddenly become a statesman.
“The Tony Abbott that I know, having served 15 years in the parliament with him, is of a different nature. In diplomacy words are bullets. You’ve just got to remember that.”
Rubbing salt in the wound, Mr Rudd said he had no issue with Mr Howard’s temperament or that of Mr Turnbull.
“I think Mr Abbott is a little different.”
Liberal Party executive director Brian Loughnane last night said: “We always said that the closer it gets to election day, the more negative and desperate Kevin Rudd and Labor will become”.
In the lead-up to the 1996 election, then prime minister Paul Keating declared in relation to Mr Howard that “Asian leaders won’t deal with him”.
Mr Rudd yesterday switched his campaign to focus on international affairs.
Since announcing in Brisbane on Saturday that he would go to Canberra for security briefings on Syria, the Prime Minister has only made one electorate visit — the Labor-held eastern Sydney seat of Kingsford Smith being vacated by former minister Peter Garrett.
After declaring the campaign would be about trust and easing cost-of-living pressures through economic management, the former foreign minister and diplomat has shifted to foreign policy and security, linking them to job creation and national prosperity.
“One thing that seldom gets attention on the election trail is the critical role that foreign and security policy play in creating the conditions that nurture our national prosperity,” Mr Rudd told the Lowy Institute yesterday.
“Economic prosperity is not therefore just a function of domestic policy.
“There is a fundamental connection between a nation’s place in the world and its prosperity at home.”
In his Sydney speech, Mr Rudd revealed that he had spoken to US President Barack Obama, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, and French President Francois Hollande, about the “full range of options” on Syria.Source: The Australian – PM slams Abbott as not fit for diplomacy
- Australia’s prime minister discusses Syria crisis with US president (craighill.net)
- Australian PM questions Abbott diplomacy credentials (channelnewsasia.com)
- Rudd attacks Abbott’s temperament (news.theage.com.au)
- Abbott a ‘pugilist’: Rudd (smh.com.au)
- Evidence against Syria ‘overwhelming’: Rudd (sbs.com.au)
- Abbott launches campaign, Rudd halts his (bigpondnews.com)
- Rudd wins over audience, for now (bigpondnews.com)
- Australia PM calls rival an ‘exceptionally aggressive and negative politician’ (gulfnews.com)
- From ‘Neanderthal’ to acceptable (smh.com.au)
- Rudd wins over audience, for now (news.theage.com.au)