Former Australian Prime Minister
Senior fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. His fellowship began in February 2014. At the Belfer Center, Rudd will lead a major research effort on possibilities and impacts of a new strategic relationship between China and the United States.
Mr. Rudd served as Australia’s 26th Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010, then as Foreign Minister from 2010 to 2012, before returning to the Prime Ministership in 2013. As Prime Minister, Mr. Rudd led Australia’s response during the Global Financial Crisis. Australia’s fiscal response to the crisis was reviewed by the IMF as the most effective stimulus strategy of all member states. Australia was the only major advanced economy not to go into recession.
Mr. Rudd is also internationally recognized as one of the founders of the G20 which drove the global response to the crisis, and which in 2009 helped prevent the crisis from spiraling into a second global depression. As Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mr. Rudd was active in global and regional foreign policy leadership. He was a driving force in expanding the East Asia Summit to include both the US and Russia in 2010. He also initiated the concept of transforming the EAS into a wider Asia Pacific Community to help manage deep-routed tensions in Asia by building over time the institutions and culture of common security in Asia.
On climate change, Mr. Rudd ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2007 and legislated in 2008 for a 20% mandatory renewable energy target for Australia. Mr. Rudd launched Australia’s challenge in the International Court of Justice with the object of stopping Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean. Mr Rudd drove Australia’s successful bid for its current non-permanent seat on the United Nation’s Security Council and the near doubling of Australia’s foreign aid budget. Domestically, Mr. Rudd delivered Australia’s first national apology to indigenous Australians as his first act as Prime Minister. His government introduced Australia’s first ever nation-wide school curriculum. He legislated for the biggest school modernization program in Australian history with the construction of new state-of-the art libraries, classrooms and multi-purpose facilities for every Australian primary school. To overcome the digital divide, he provided laptop computers for every year 9-12 secondary school student. On health, Mr. Rudd in 2010 negotiated with the Australian states a National Heath and Hospitals Reform Agreement, the biggest reform and investment in the health system in 30 years. In defiance of Big Tobacco, his government introduced the world’s first plain-packaging regime for all tobacco products. To improve the rate of organ and tissue donation, he established Australia’s first National Organ and Tissue Transplant Authority. In 2010, his government introduced Australia’s first ever paid parental leave scheme. He also established Australia’s first ever dedicated Australian Children’s Network.
Mr. Rudd remains engaged in a range of international challenges including global economic management, the rise of China, climate change and sustainable development. He is on the International Advisory Panel of Chatham House. He is a proficient speaker of Mandarin Chinese, a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University and funded the establishment of the Australian Centre on China in the World at the Australian National University.
He was a co-author of the recent report of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Global Sustainability – “Resilient People, Resilient Planet” and chairs the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Fragile States. He also remains actively engaged in indigenous reconciliation.