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Opinion

Mealy-mouthed Rudd fails to back up Swan critique

Cornered by Euromoney, former Aussie PM Kevin Rudd was less scathing of his political rival Wayne Swan in person than he is in print.

Euromoney’s Finance Minister of the Year awards were designed as a gong for good work, to acknowledge a recession avoided, an enlightened reform advanced, an economy saved.

Australian politicians – who have been honoured just twice over its decades-long history – clearly didn’t get that memo.

Down Under, our award has become political dynamite, to explode opponents like Labor’s Paul Keating, given the accolade in 1984 for floating the Australian dollar and rejuvenating a moribund banking sector with foreign competition, reforms few expected of a union-dominated Labor government.

Keating’s conservative nemesis, the never-awarded but long-serving Peter Costello, would mock Keating as the “world’s greatest treasurer”, to the delighted chortles of Costello’s jeering Liberal colleagues.

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Kevin Rudd 

And then there’s former PM Kevin Rudd, in a category of his own. Rudd’s treasurer during his first term as PM from 2007 was fellow Queenslander Wayne Swan, who continued in the post after 2010 when Rudd was replaced as Labor leader by Julia Gillard in a coup that had Swan’s fingerprints on it.

Domestic politics aside, Swan got our award in 2011 for stewarding Australia through the ill winds that buffeted the globe in the wake of the elongated 2008 financial crisis, helping Australia become one of a handful of economies to avoid recession, an achievement acknowledged by economic minds greater than ours.

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