Cabinet to decide support for kevin rudd in united nations top job bid

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PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has reportedly let former Labor leader Kevin Rudd know if the Government will back his audacious bid to become United Nations secretary-general.

But he wont discuss it until the morning, Sky News David Speers and Paul Kelly revealed.

Mr Rudds nomination was discussed in Thursdays Cabinet meeting where ministers made the decision whether or not to support his candidacy.

Asked by reporters on Thursday afternoon if the Government had given Mr Rudd the thumbs up, Mr Turnbull played his cards close to his chest.

Weve considered this issue and I owe Mr Rudd a telephone call before I say anything more about it publicly, he said enigmatically.

But the signs arent looking good with Mr Turnbull saying early on Thursday that the matter was not high on the agenda.

Speaking with radio shock jock Alan Jones, Mr Turnbull indicated that his cabinet was unlikely to nominate Mr Rudd for the position, conceding a nomination would indicate support.

And we know you dont support Kevin Rudd, Jones said, helpfully filling in the blanks.

Well be dealing with it today, Mr Turnbull said.

I know theres a lot of interest in Mr Rudd, but hes far from being the most important issue in Cabinet today or indeed on any other day.

The two-time PM has thrown himself forward for the top UN job, and has received a mixture of support, denigration and disbelief from within the Australian parliament.

Senior Coalition figures believe the prospect grates with the government, while Opposition heavies have slammed a predicted rejection by Cabinet as small-minded.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has conceded Mr Rudd is qualified, but stopped short of supporting him.

I believe that as other candidates are former leaders, former prime ministers, former foreign ministers of their country, then he is qualified to be a candidate, she told ABC radio on Wednesday.

Liberal Senator Eric Abetz has spoken out against the call for endorsement citing his political record which saw Mr Rudd dumped as prime minister by his own party, and later leading a failed election campaign.

Everybody in Australia knows of those character flaws, he said.

To seek to inflict that on the United Nations I think quite frankly is a disservice to the United Nations.

But Labor is urging the government to back an Australian candidate.

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek has said it would be small-minded not to back Mr Rudd, while Labors foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong has asked Coalition MPs to set their political allegiances aside.

Sometimes nation is more important than party, she said.

Even if Cabinet decides to support Mr Rudds nomination, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has made it clear that support would not equal an endorsement.

Mr Rudd turned his attention to the world stage after a failed bid for Australias top job in 2010, which followed a stint as foreign minister under then prime minister Julia Gillard.

It was revealed he was lobbying for the diplomatic post earlier this year.

If his nomination was successful, Mr Rudd would be up against former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark who has the support of her country.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key described the former leader as the best person for the job and a stateswoman of international stature.