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RuddBull double act shines on Q&A

Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull agreed: neither will lead their respective parties at the next election.

Nor would they consider joining forces and establishing a new party.

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Ruddbull, a comfortable double act

Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd say neither will lead their respective parties at the next election.

"Malcolm and I could never agree on the leadership," chortled Rudd. And if the audience didn't get it: "That was a joke."

As for Turnbull: "My mouth became quite dry at the thought," he deadpanned, though he admitted that "thousands and thousands of people" had suggested he establish a new party.

"Very flattering, but no," he said.

As for his chances of regaining the leadership from Tony Abbott: it simply wasn't going to happen.


He remained "quite baffled", however, why the the Labor Party wouldn't change leaders from Julia Gillard back to Rudd.

Rudd countered that he was being honest when he said he had given his undertaking after the challenge in February that his leadership ambitions were over, but he believed Labor could still win the next election and tossed in a jab of his own.

"Our central asset is Tony Abbott," he declared. Though he didn't mention Julia Gillard by name, he praised "the Prime Minister's" recent aggression against Abbott.

RuddBull. Such was the excitement in the political twitterverse the wits had given the latest ABC-TV Q&A a catchy nickname long before it went to air. Kevin Rudd. Malcolm Turnbull. RuddBull. Of course.

"I'm so excited about tonight's Q&A," chuckled the first tweeter. "Heather Ridout and Judith Sloan finally going head to head."

You could feel almost sorry for Reserve Bank director Heather Ridout and economist and commentator Judith Sloan, the panellists chosen to share the Q&A high table with RuddBull. Both are women with strong points of view and practised at public commentary. But the audience wasn't there for them, even though Ms Ridout in particular offered much learned dissertation on the economy, tax reform, the carbon tax and industrial relations.

The ABC had promoted the show as a performance by the two male leaders in exile, and so the second half turned out to be.

"Who has the vision and the policies to lead Australia," asked host Tony Jones at the opening. Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, fairly pointedly, weren't going to be asked. They weren't there. Indeed, Ms Gillard was overseas, where she often seems to be when Kevin Rudd makes his most public performances.

Rudd offered that the current political circus had been reduced to nothing more than a Punch and Judy show and a kabuki play, where any attempt at rational discussion was strangled within 30 seconds by charges of breaking party discipline.

Turnbull proffered kind words about Rudd's efforts as prime minister to elevate discussion about policy but tempered it with steel.

"A vision without execution is just a hallucination," he said. Rudd didn't smile.

Rudd allowed that "Malcolm has a few smart ideas for the future" but added "I've got a few, too".

In particular, they involved how to improve productivity and to deliver a national agenda for fairness.

By the end, RuddBull appeared a comfortable double act, each understanding the other's dilemma and each having difficulty keeping a straight face while handing out the required jabs. Exile suits neither, but both had no choice but to declare it their inevitable lot.


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