Rudd undone by the enemy within

The opposition did not bring down Kevin Rudd, nor the Labor Party's factions. The answer lies within the man's complex personality.

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Others say that while Rudd never yelled or became visibly angry in encounters, his displeasure was pretty obvious. Often business people found themselves being lectured by the PM who had a tendency to suck all the oxygen out of the room, ruining any real exchange of views. One chief executive goes as far as saying: "I think he suffered a complete lack of empathy. It was almost like he had a form of Aspergers or autism."

The opposition did not bring down Kevin Rudd, nor the Labor Party's factions. The answer lies within the man's complex personality.

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What is surprising is how he often misread situations where he should have felt comfortable. In April 2008, at the height of his power and popularity, he gave an address to the Sydney Institute annual dinner that completely misjudged his audience.

Many of those there groaned inwardly as Rudd failed to read the occasion or recognise the sheer power in the room.

There was great goodwill that night to a PM with an agenda at the start of his term.

The PM delivered a bureaucrat's tutorial on policy. It was as if he could not help himself as he did an "information dump" on the hundreds of people in the Star City ballroom.

They had to listen, right? And he was the smartest person in the room, right? The nation's elite has come to be dazzled. They left disappointed at the discovery that Kevin07 was turning out to be an apparatchik with mediocre delivery. It was a similar story on October 30, 2008, when the prime minister addressed the 25th anniversary dinner of the Business Council of Australia.

Labor had had a patchy history with the BCA, which had been estabolished in the Hawke era as a moderate business voice designed to help the structural reforms of the 1980s.

By the time Labor had won back power from John Howard, its relationship with the BCA has been seriously poisoned by the dismissive approach taken by Mark Latham when leader.

Expectations were high that Rudd would heal the wounds that night in 2008. Instead he gave the country's top company chief executives an Economics 101 lecture about the global financial crisis which was then unfolding.

The murmurs of disappointment mounted steadily as the PM droned on. Some chief executives were not so surprised.

As Opposition Leader in 2007, Rudd had courted the big end of town, and had been hosted at several boardroom lunches at investment banks such as UBS, Macquarie and Deutsche Bank. There was interest and curiosity on both sides, and Rudd was well received during what amounted to a roadshow across Sydney and Melbourne.

But the moment Labor was elected, business found itself on the outer, cold shouldered by a prime minister who had once pursued them. Says one senior executive: "I think it was almost like he was simply acting. You'd go down to the Lodge and he'd do the big introductions but you never really thought that it was really him. That it was the real Kevin. I remember hosting lunches for him with our major corporate clients before he became PM and he was far more engaging and importantly he seemed to listen.

"As soon as he was elected it was like he shed that diplomatic persona and agenda. His arrogance in dealing with the financial and business community then became extreme."

One big-four bank chairman says: "He was always quite dismissive in our discussions.

"The language was peppered with glib, off-the-cuff remarks. There was no sense of engagement and deep consideration for our perspectives."

Others say that while Rudd never yelled or became visibly angry in encounters, his displeasure was pretty obvious. Often business people found themselves being lectured by the PM who had a tendency to suck all the oxygen out of the room, ruining any real exchange of views. One chief executive goes as far as saying: "I think he suffered a complete lack of empathy. It was almost like he had a form of Aspergers or autism."

On the night of Tuesday June 22, just 24 hours before Rudd conceded defeat and agreed to a leadership spill, the prime minister and several of his senior cabinet attended a dinner organised by business people with about 40 guests in one of the senate dining rooms in Parliament House. It was an extraordinary night. Rudd "blew his stack", according to one guest, telling the audience that he had "gone out on a limb for you guys". Another recalls: "The address was awful. It was kind of, you don't love me any more, I did all these things for you, and I'm angry about it. It was typical Kevin. It was a reiteration of all the things he'd done. It was tinged with a tone of, you don't appreciate what I've done."

Australia's most senior business people were appalled. Embarrassed for a prime minister under such obvious stress, they switched off. One of those present wondered if this was indeed his "last supper"

Two days later, Rudd was gone.

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from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/rudd-undone-by-the-enemy-within/story-e6frg6z6-1225887059051

Comments

Kevin Rudd's demise

Of course the Labor Party couldn't follow the way Rudd's mind worked, if he's not an Asperger then neither am I!