The Labor Party’s federal conference this week saw a moment of public healing and reconciliation when former prime minister Kevin Rudd was given life membership of the party by current leader Bill Shorten.
The Bug has gained an exclusive insight into events that led to the award made to one PM by the man who helped tear him down and who in turn hopes to be the nation’s next PM.
Below we publish exclusively a transcript of a meeting held just before Mr Rudd joined Mr Shorten on stage in Adelaide at the conference venue, the Don Dunstan Memorial Safari Suit Hall of Fame.
TRANSCRIPT OF MEETING:
Federal Labor Party Leader Bill Shorten and Labor Party President Wayne Swan wait in an ante-room offstage. Former prime minister Kevin Rudd enters.
Bill Shorten: Hi Kevin.
Kevin Rudd: G’day Bill. Great to see you again.
Wayne Swan: Yeah. Good to see you Kevin. You’re looking good. I’ve been meaning to catch up.
Kevin Rudd: Yeah, me too Swannie. But going back and forth to the Big Apple has made it hard.
Wayne Swan: Yeah. I know. We’ve got so much to catch up on.
Kevin Rudd: Too right.
Bill Shorten: Now fellas, let’s get this sorted. We’ve only got a few minutes before we go on stage. I gotta say Kevin I’m sorry it’s just a life membership.
Kevin Rudd: Don’t worry about it Bill.
Bill Shorten: The timing’s just wrong. If we were actually in office it could have been more. An ambassadorship, backing for that UN top job. Or better still a Senate casual vacancy.
Kevin Rudd: That’d be good. Is someone moving on?
Bill Shorten: Oh you know. That matter. With that Senator.
Kevin Rudd: Oh, that still hasn’t come to light?
Bill Shorten: No. I’m not leaking it until I need the vacancy to do a deal. But I would have made an exception for you if we were past the election and in government.
Kevin Rudd: Thanks Bill. Very thoughtful. That means a lot to me.
Bill Shorten: No worries Kev. Now, what did you have in mind for today?
Kevin Rudd: I thought I’d call for healing in the party.
Bill Shorten: I like it. I was thinking of saying ‘there’s been a lot of pain’, or something like that. Just waiting for the focus group results. Should be here any second.
Kevin Rudd: How about I refer to you Bill as the next PM of Oz?
Bill Shorten: Great. But not in those words?
Kevin Rudd: Ha ha ha. Of course not, you silly Billy. I’ll dress ‘em up a bit for the occasion. Ruddify them a bit.
Bill Shorten: Great. I’d like that. I think you’re always better when you talk in that nerdy, high falutin’ way you bung on now and then.
Kevin Rudd: I don’t even know half the words I use when I do that. Ha ha ha. I mean ‘programmatic specificity’? What the fuck might that be?
(All three laugh)
Wayne Swan: Yeah. It’s almost as bad of some of the jargon I came out with when I was Treasurer. Didn’t have a clue what most of it meant, but the brain-dead turds in the media gallery lapped it up.
Bill Shorten: Yeah. Those wankers never want to admit their ignorance, or be seen not to know something important.
Wayne Swan: Keating’s got a lot to answer for.
Kevin Rudd: Oh yeah. He once told me privately that after floating the dollar in the 80s even he didn’t know what the J-curve was. He thought it was a corner at the Bathhurst 1000 circuit. But he kept on using it and bamboozling them.
(All three laugh)
Wayne Swan: I’m just glad Treasury has so many bizarre terms and acronyms. Whenever I was stuck I’d just throw a few random letters together and watch the journos’ minds crank into action trying to figure them out.
Bill Shorten: Good one.
Wayne Swan: Yeah. Let’s face it, as Treasurer I was pretty ordinary. Probably edging to the ‘crap’ side of the ledger, so to speak.
Kevin Rudd: Oh Swanny don’t worry. We’ve all been in government. We all know that being Treasurer or even having a Treasurer doesn’t really matter. Nobody runs the economy. Shit just happens.
Wayne Swan: Don’t I know it.
Bill Shorten: Too right.
Wayne Swan: But I do want to thank you Kevvie for mentioning me in your book.
Kevin Rudd: No worries.
Wayne Swan: I think you did an excellent job of doing me over. Much more than I expected and certainly much more devastating than we’d discussed beforehand.
Kevin Rudd: Well I added bits here and there to the draft words you sent me about yourself.
Wayne Swan: Well, it all turned out excellently I thought. Well done.
Kevin Rudd:And thank you Wayne in return for the relentless bagging you’ve given me.
Wayne Swan: That’s OK.
Kevin Rudd: No, I think it’s important to let you know how much you’ve helped me by doing that.
Wayne Swan: Just returning a favour for an old buddy.
Kevin Rudd: Well we all have legacies to protect.
Wayne Swan: Yeah, and you bagging me out in your book diverts attention away from my actual achievements.
Bill Shorten: Which were?
(Silence, then all three laugh)
Wayne Swan: Good one Bill. Always there with a zinger.
Kevin Rudd: And having people like you Swannie tearing strips off me and the way I managed the government…
Wayne Swan: Or didn’t manage the government.
(All three laugh)
Kevin Rudd: Yeah, exactly. That can only help muddy the waters when history is written. Gee, I do wish Julia could be here. I’d like to thank her in person for what she did too.
Bill Shorten: Absolutely. If it wasn’t for her who knows how people would judge your time as PM.
Kevin Rudd: Exactly Bill. I’ll never forget what Gough told me about legacies. He said if your government’s turning to shit, pray to God you get rolled as leader or die in office.
Bill Shorten: So true. Gotta keep that in mind. Might run ‘getting rolled’ and ‘death in office’ past the focus groups just in case.
Kevin Rudd: Gough told me that by 1975 his whole government was acting like the Ashton’s Circus collided with that old Number 96 TV soap opera. It had all turned to shit and he was gonna go down in history as a total fuckwit.
Wayne Swan: Yeah. Nobody wanted to challenge him and Gough was pretty healthy so he wasn’t gonna kick the bucket anytime soon. Luckily Malcolm helped him out. Getting John Kerr pissed so often.
Kevin Rudd: Yeah, exactly. Being sacked was the greatest day of his life, Gough told me. And funny thing is, Malcolm hadn’t told him it was to be on Remembrance Day. He wanted to surprise Gough.
(All three laugh)
Wayne Swan: Good old Mal. I miss him you know.
Bill Shorten: We all do.
Kevin Rudd: So, yeah. I reckon my legacy is secure. Nothing like going down as a martyr, as Gough would say.
Bill Shorten: True. True. Gee fellas, I hope you two are around in a few years when I’m in The Lodge and start totally fucking things up.
Kevin Rudd:/Wayne Swan: Count on us Bill.
Bill Shorten: Thanks. Now, are we all ready to go on stage?
Kevin Rudd:/Wayne Swan: Let’s do this.