Malcolm Turnbull rejects Julie Bishop's argument on Kevin Rudd's UN bid

PM agrees with Alan Jones that a nomination for secretary general amounts to indirect support for former Labor leader

Malcolm Turnbull has dismissed Julie Bishop’s argument that a nomination for Kevin Rudd for the UN secretary general position is not an endorsement.

On Thursday morning cabinet was to consider Rudd’s request for the government to nominate him as a candidate for the position when Ban Ki-moon’s term expires at the end of the year.

In the face of stiff opposition among Coalition members, Bishop had argued at the first party-room meeting that nominating the former Labor prime minister would not amount to an endorsement.

But Turnbull disagreed with that proposition when interviewed by the 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones on Thursday morning.

“If you are nominating someone you are … ,” the prime minister said.

Jones said: “Indirectly supporting someone?”

“Well yes, you can’t nominate someone.”

Pressure is mounting on the cabinet to reject Rudd’s campaign for the UN’s top job, with the Coalition dissident Eric Abetz reminding his colleagues in a statement that Rudd’s peers had labelled him narcissistic, a micromanager and an impulsive control freak.

“Any cursory glance at Mr Rudd’s temperament and capacity would show Mr Rudd is poorly qualified for this role and if Australia were to inflict Kevin Rudd on the United Nations it would be a mistake,” Abetz said.

The Australian has reported unnamed Liberal sources suggesting the Rudd’s request would be knocked back by the cabinet.

But Labor colleagues rallied, with the finance spokesman, Jim Chalmers, suggesting anything less than an endorsement would be petty, undergraduate politics.

“Anything short of a full endorsement for an Australian to run for the UN out of cabinet today would be a victory for petty, undergraduate politics and the hard right of the cabinet over Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull,” Chalmers said.

“People have the right to expect their cabinet to make a hard-headed assessment, a hard-headed judgment of the national interest and to act on it, I think not pushing for an Australian to head the UN would be an extraordinary failure on that front.”

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Gabrielle Chan

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