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For students of incomprehensible behavior by otherwise apparently intelligent leaders, Australian politics is the gift that keeps on giving. The latest example is the decision by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's government, just re-elected by a razor-thin margin, to deny former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd the formal nomination he needed to join the race to be the next U.N. secretary-general.The decision defies not only the merits of the case and well-established precedent, but also the government's own need for a more bipartisan spirit to develop if it is to get any of its major legislation through the Australian Parliament. It will be embarrassing internationally as well – seen as petty, partisan and vindictive by most governments around the world, regardless of whether they would be inclined to support Rudd.In his political afterlife, he chairs a major international commission on multilateralism, runs the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York, and has been a thoughtful advocate – respected highly both in Washington and Beijing – for strategies to better manage the U.S.-China relationship.True, his temperament and management style have been an issue in domestic politics, and partly explain the tumultuous leadership changes that have given Australians five different prime ministers in the last nine years. Gareth Evans, an Australian Labor government Cabinet minister for 13 years, was foreign minister from 1988 to 1996 .
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