Kevin Rudd Draws Applause for Work as Australia’s Foreign Aid Envoy

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd addresses the 65th session of the General Assembly on Sept. 25, 2010, in New York. Rudd is getting praise for his performance to date as Australia's top diplomat. Photo by: Aliza Eliazarov / United Nations

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s work performance to date has gained him praise. Development observers particularly lauded his stint at the Millennium Development Goals summit in New York.

“He performed brilliantly,” said Meredith Burgmann, a former Labor member of the Australian Parliament from New South Wales and president of the Australian Council for International Development, as quoted by The Australian newspaper. “All that tireless energy he has … presidents and prime ministers were falling by the wayside and he was flying off to another bilateral and another round table.”

Tim Costello, head of World Vision Australia, likened Rudd to a “phoenix rising from the ashes,” alluding to the Labor leadership coup that forced him to step down as Australian prime minister in June.

Costello acknowledged the passion that Rudd has for development, an issue that the former prime minister had focused on while still an opposition leader, according to The Australian.

The newspaper also notes that Rudd is “focused on longer-term goals and no longer trying to keep up with the madness of the 24-hour political news cycle.”

At a dinner at Burgmann’s organization on Oct. 20, Rudd said: “On the front page of our newspapers this morning and on our television news bulletins tonight there was no mention that today 24,000 of the world’s children died of preventable starvation, malnutrition or related sickness. That’s more than 8.8 million each year … the fact they may not make the news each night does not make it unimportant.”

Rudd, as foreign minister, has announced 60 million Australian dollars (USD58.9 million) to boost immunization against pneumonia and diarrhea in poor countries, pledged 210 million Australian dollars to replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and entered into an alliance with the United States, United Kingdom and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve reproductive, maternal and newborn health in the developing world. He also ordered the reduction of adviser posts in the Australian aid program for Papua New Guinea by a third.

>> Australia to Ax Adviser Posts in PNG Aid Program

>> Global Fund Secures USD11.7B for 2011-2013

>> GAVI Secures New Funding Pledges

>> MDG Summit Culminates With USD40B Global Health Roadmap

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.