Kevin Rudd says Malcolm Turnbull’s phone call with Trump doesn't make him Robinson Crusoe

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Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd speaks at the Asia Society in New York September 30, 2015. Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has commented about Malcolm Turnbull’s controversial phone call with US President Donald Trump, saying he is not the first leader to stand up to a hostile American president. He has cited his own conversations with George W Bush regarding the Iraq War.

Rudd has recalled that during his time and Bush’s administration, they have exchanged some pretty harsh words too. “Remember, I was dealing with George Bush at the time when I was about to say, ‘George, terrific, we’re about to pull our troops out of Iraq and your war stinks,'” Rudd said. He stated that the bottom line is that Turnbull was not Robinson Crusoe, the titular protagonist in Daniel Defoe's novel.

But the former prime minister also wanted to be fair with Turnbull, recognising that his conversation with Trump is a tough time. “Well, to be fair to Mr Turnbull, it was a tough old time but the bottom line is he is not Robinson Crusoe either,” Rudd told the ABC.

Earlier this month, reports of Trump and Turnbull’s controversial phone call have erupted. The Australian leader reportedly wanted Trump to recognise the deal to take the 1,250 asylum seekers that are currently languishing offshore on Manus Island and Nauru. However, the conversation between the two world leaders reportedly did not go well.

Following the controversial phone call, Americans took to social media to apologise to Australians for their leader’s rhetoric on the issue with the hashtag #bringthemhere. Even Trump himself has stated that he loves Australia as a country and that people should not worry about his phone call with Turnbull.

But Rudd said he thinks the public has to keep their focus on the issue on civility. He would hope and ask the US president bluntly to restore civility in his communications.

He has also urged the current Australian prime minister to seek alternatives other than clean coal as Australia searches for a consistent energy policy. “I think it’s high time we provided this coal alternative to the domestic energy supply,” Rudd said.

Rudd served as Australia’s 26th prime minister. He led the country’s response during the Global Financial Crisis and has been active in global and regional foreign policy leadership. He has led the expansion of East Asia Summit to include both the US and Russia in 2010.

Domestically, Rudd has established the Australian National Apology Foundation. It is aimed at promoting reconciliation and closing the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.