RUDD'S THREE VISITS TO EX-CON INFLUENCE PEDDLER HONEST MISTAKES?
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Robert McClelland reckons Kevin Rudd's meetings with disgraced former West Australian premier Brian Burke are no big deal:
"Kevin's acknowledged an error of judgement, but I mean if you compare Kevin's meeting with Brian Burke two years ago with the Government's meeting with all kinds of people, receiving all kinds of information regarding the Australian Wheat Board, and they're trying to beat up this issue, I mean it's dramatic and gross hypocrisy," he said.Gee, that brings back childhood memories of trying to get myself out of trouble by dobbing in my brother for something he'd done, even if he hadn't actually done it.
Here's an even iffier ploy to get Rudd off the hook:
Western Australian Premier Alan Carpenter says Mr Rudd does not live or operate in WA and would not have been able to appreciate Mr Burke's influence.Why would Rudd have bothered to meet Burke at all if he wasn't seeking influence? Maybe he visited him because Burke's an all around nice guy. No matter, Burke thoroughly disgraced himself and ended up in jail, as every Labor politician with any sense knows only too well. Rudd must have thought the benefits of meeting the ex-con former premier outweighed the risks. This makes his judgment highly suspect.
He says it was an honest mistake.
"In 2005 I believed, I also believed that the influence of Brian Burke and Julian Grill was grossly overstated and that they had a much diminished influence inside the Labor Party and that we could move on," he said.
Even worse, Rudd and co.'s handling of this matter shows a distinct lack of political savvy: half-arsed denials are only going to make things worse. Overt stupidity like this can end political careers.
Update: Kevin Rudd is in deep trouble:
It has been revealed a Western Australian Labor Party heavyweight was touting Kevin Rudd as a future Prime Minister just days after Mr Rudd met the controversial lobbyist Brian Burke two years ago.Nope, no problem at all.
Mr Rudd denies he was in WA in 2005 to discuss any leadership prospects.
But in an interview in August 2005, two days after Mr Rudd had dinner with Mr Burke, union leader Kevin Reynolds told ABC television he saw Mr Rudd as a future leader.
"I mean I know for a fact that he met with Rudd the other day when he was here," Mr Reynolds said.
"He's a future leader of this country and he sees there's no problem in meeting with Brian, in talking with Brian."
Mr Rudd maintains there was nothing sinister about the 2005 meetings but admits they were a mistake.
Update II: As the true nature of Labor's involvement with Burke becomes apparent it is becoming increasingly clear that trying to pass off the meetings as "honest mistakes" was a serious blunder:
Mr Rudd admits the meetings were a mistake, but denies discussing the Labor party leadership during the meetings.And even the Howard government isn't immune to Burke-taint:
In another development however, business figures who attended those meetings said they were invited by Mr Burke specifically to meet the then leadership aspirant, Mr Rudd.
The businessman said Mr Burke introduced Mr Rudd as a Labor rising star and predicted he would be the next leader of the federal party.
Sources revealed Mr Rudd spoke for 30 minutes, detailing Labor's electoral woes after the 2004 election result and the implosion of Mark Latham's leadership, and the task ahead to rebuild the party.
But on the other side of the political fence, Human Services Minister Ian Campbell sensationally admitted meeting Mr Burke in his office last year.As my dear departed father must have told me a million time, "be careful who you hang out with".
The meeting occurred while Senator Campbell was environment and heritage minister.
His position in Cabinet now appears untenable after three days of relentless attacks by senior ministers, most notably Peter Costello, on Mr Rudd.