House debates

Monday, 2 May 2016

Statements by Members

United Nations

1:56 pm

Photo of Tanya PlibersekTanya Plibersek (Sydney, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak about the position of UN Secretary-General, which has been debated somewhat in the media in recent months and, indeed, years, and to say how important it would be, should an Australian stand, that the Australian government nominate and support that Australian. Indeed, the governments of Portugal and New Zealand are doing just that in supporting their former prime ministers for the position. The conservative government of New Zealand is supporting former Labor Prime Minister Helen Clark.

The person who is being discussed as a potential Australian head of the United Nations is former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. You cannot think of a better qualified person for the position, not just because of his time as Prime Minister but also because of his extensive experience as foreign minister of this nation. I would like to think that positions like this would be above politics. Indeed, while we were in government we supported Tim Fischer to become the ambassador to the Holy See. We supported Alexander Downer to become the UN Special Envoy for Cyprus. We supported Brendan Nelson to become the ambassador to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg. In contrast, we saw Mike Rann's and Steve Bracks's appointments cancelled by this government. You only need to go back to the fact that we supported Malcolm Fraser in his position on the commission of apartheid to know how important bipartisanship is and how important it is to back the Aussie—always back the Aussie.