Federal Politics


Rudd hits reset button, gets busy

If you've had a sense of deja vu about Kevin Rudd's second prime ministership, you're not imagining it.

A day-by-day comparison of the first month of Rudd 1.0 and the first month of Rudd 2.0 reveals how faithfully the restored Labor leader has been copying from the political playbook of his favourite former PM.

In the 30 days since since he toppled Julia Gillard on June 26, Mr Rudd has been on a frenetic run of whistlestop public appearances, news conferences, policy announcements and soft diplomacy photo opportunities.

It has been a whirlwind matched only by his schedule after winning the November 2007 election, when a relentless agenda of travel and media appearances led to the nicknames ''Kevin 747'' and ''Kevin 24/7'' and, ultimately, allegations by party colleagues of ''dysfunctional decision making'' and ''chaos''.

One key difference second time around has been the reborn Prime Minister's passionate embrace of social media, right down to sharing pictures of a shaving cut.

Since his return to the top job, daily appearances on the hustings have remained a priority before calling the election, while in 2007, he played the statesman with trips to Indonesia, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan before celebrating Christmas at The Lodge.


In the past week, Mr Rudd has visited Queensland, the ACT, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia, updating his movement on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which he joined in 2008.

Former communications director to Julia Gillard and senior director at FTI Consulting Russell Mahoney said Mr Rudd's pace proved a campaign was under way. ''We can pretend that the campaign hasn't started but everybody knows that it has, regardless of when he actually calls an election date,'' Mr Mahoney said. ''Even his worst detractors would say that his best asset is his campaigning skill.''

But politicians risked leaving the public in a ''blur'' if they appeared to be doing too much, too quickly.

''In my view, there's a risk if Labor were to win and Rudd was to continue at this sort of public pace after an election: I think people would start to wonder why he is spending so much time in front of television cameras,'' he said. ''[Mr Rudd] seems to be able to connect with people on social media in that sort of folksy, dadsy kind of way. That is going to grate with some people, of course, but anything a politician does is going to grate with some people.''

In the past month Mr Rudd has generated more than 50 front page headlines in Fairfax Media's Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra newspapers and his prolific ''selfies'' and updates on social media have been shared by tens of thousands.

Within days of defeating John Howard in November 2007, Mr Rudd had received calls from world leaders including then US President George W. Bush and British prime minister Gordon Brown, while this year, he used Instagram to publicise his talks with Barack Obama and East Timor President Jose Maria de Vasconcelos.

In 2007, Mr Rudd hosted then New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark on the veranda at his home in Brisbane - the same informal setting for private talks with Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O'Neill over his controversial PNG ''solution'' to thwart people-smugglers.

Barely three weeks into his prime ministership in 2007, Mr Rudd used a United Nations summit in Bali to label climate change the ''defining challenge of our generation''. Barely three weeks back in the job this year, he declared Ms Gillard's politically toxic carbon tax ''terminated'' and outlined a switch to a floating price emissions trading scheme.

In 2007, Mr Rudd pledged an apology to the stolen generations. In 2013, he described himself as the first Australian prime minister to be a ''fully signed-up supporter of marriage equality''.

Mr Rudd's website lists more than 44 interview transcripts, statements and news releases since he returned as Prime Minister. He is scheduled to appear on Channel Ten's The Bolt Report on Sunday.