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Australia won't nominate Rudd for UN post

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/07/2016

Kevin Rudd's hopes of being the next UN secretary-general have been dashed.

He was told on Friday by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull the government wasn't going to nominate him for the role.

Mr Turnbull was left to make a captain's call by a divided cabinet, and decided the former Labor prime minister wasn't the right man for the job.

"The threshold point here is when the Australian government nominates a person for a job, particularly an international job like this ... do we believe the person, the would-be nominee, is well suited for that position?" Mr Turnbull told reporters.

"My judgment is that Mr Rudd is not, and I've explained to him the reasons why."

Mr Turnbull wouldn't say whether he would now back Helen Clark, saying the government would consider other candidates in due course.

And he wouldn't discuss why he went against his deputy leader, Julie Bishop, who had previously said she considered Mr Rudd was qualified for the position.

Prime Minister John Key said on Thursday whichever way the decision went he didn't think it would make much difference to Helen Clark's chances of replacing Ban Ki-moon when he steps down at the end of the year.

He had expected it to go the other way, saying he thought there was "a reasonable probability" Mr Rudd would get government backing.

"I don't think it changes a lot, I stand by my public statements that I think Helen Clark is the stronger candidate, that she brings a lot to the table."

The UN Security Council last week held its first ballot to whittle down the 12 contenders and Miss Clark, previously reported to be a front-runner, didn't do well.

Reuters reported she ended up in fifth place, with former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres leading the pack and former Slovenian president Danilo Turk coming in second.

Mr Rudd wasn't on the list because he hadn't been nominated, but there's no deadline for that.

The 15-member Security Council will hold a series of ballots, with low-ranked contenders expected to drop out of the race.

Eventually it will reach a consensus on a single candidate it can recommend to the General Assembly.

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