Kevin Rudd cut all the political wrangling at the Australian parliament on Wednesday (Feb. 22) after announcing his resignation as Australia’s foreign minister at a press conference in Washington, D.C.
Rudd has been the subject of attacks for weeks by supporters of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has vehemently denied rumors he was secretly trying to oust the prime minister. Gillard, who replaced Rudd as prime minister in 2010, did not repudiate the attacks.
“I can only reluctantly conclude that she therefore shares these views,” Rudd said.
Rudd has been praised by many for his role as Australia’s foreign minister. Development observers lauded him at the Millennium Development Goals summit in New York in 2010. Tim Costello, head of World Vision Australia, once likened him to a phoenix rising from the ashes. He is one of 19 members of the U.N. Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability.
As foreign minister, Rudd saw the establishment of the Australian Civilian Corps. In 2010, he entered into an alliance with the United States, the United Kingdom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve reproductive, maternal and newborn health in the developing world.
That same year, Rudd ordered the reduction of a significant number of technical adviser positions in Australia’s aid program in Papua New Guinea. The money saved was to be invested in education and health programs in the country.
When he was elected prime minister in 2007, Rudd immediately ratified the Kyoto Protocol and released a white paper detailing plans on reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. He, however, did not achieve any significant action.
“The last time I resigned from a position of public office was when I resigned as prime minister of Australia. Regrettably there have been some similar factors today,” Rudd said, adding he can only serve as foreign minister if he has the prime minister’s confidence. “We all know that what happened then was wrong and it must never happen again.”
Other Australian officials are set to replace Rudd at several international events he was scheduled to attend. One of these is the London Conference on Somalia, which is on Thursday (Feb. 23). In the meantime, Trade Minister Craig Emerson will serve as acting foreign minister until a new one is appointed.
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