WAYNE Swan and Kevin Rudd - from the same school to the
WAYNE Swan and Kevin Rudd - from the same school to the "best and worst of friends”.

Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan: best of frenemies

KEVIN Rudd's attack on his former Treasurer and one-time friend Wayne Swan was, to the casual political observer, extraordinary.

The former Prime Minister was dismissive of the ability of his fellow Nambour High School graduate, suggesting Swan had only secured the position because of the strength of the party faction with which he was aligned.

He told the ABC current affairs program The 7.30 Report he had hoped Mr Swan would grow in the job but hadn't and that those around the former Treasurer were aware he wasn't up to it.

For the target of the denigration however the views that inform Rudd's first book - Not for the Faint-hearted: A Personal Reflection on Life, Politics and Purpose 1957-2007 - were an attack that had been a long time coming.

Yesterday Mr Swan headed for the high moral ground.

"I'm neither surprised nor worried by what's been said - much of it is fiction," he said. 

"Fighting inequality is much more important to me than fighting with former colleagues.  

"Anybody with Labor's interests at heart will take the same approach."

Mr Swan, Euromoney's 2011 Finance Minister of the Year, would have been in no doubt an attack from Mr Rudd was coming, though perhaps surprised it had taken so long.

He after all had penned his own novel,

"The Good Fight: six years, two prime ministers and staring down the Great Recession" published in 2014 which was brutal in its assessment of Mr Rudd's character and temperament.

Despite working closely with Mr Rudd and the late Wayne Goss to overthrow the 32 year rule of the Nationals and Joh Bjelke-Petersen and helping his elevation to the federal parliament his book made clear the doubts beginning to form.

"As I watched Kevin operate in Canberra, I worried more each day about the character traits and values he brought to the table," he wrote.

Yesterday he appeared more concerned about the campaign to stop rock walling of the Maroochy River mouth than anything Mr Rudd had to say.


"The problem with Kevin is that he's always at his best when he's not himself" - Wayne Swan

"The turnover in his office was extraordinary. He burnt through staff like a child flicking matches from a box" - Wayne Swan

"Over 21 years Kevin and I have been the best and worst of friends" - Wayne Swan

"Kevin's treatment of people was extraordinarily vindictive and juvenile and it was frequently on display" - Wayne Swan

"Mr Swan was such a strong factional player I was concerned there would be a lot of additional instability if I was to remove him from the portfolio" - Kevin Rudd

"Paul Keating always said to me Treasury was the best tutor in the world and could actually turn an open, rational and untrained mind into someone who was fully at ease with the Treasury portfolio. So I thought Treasury would train him up. It didn't work out that way" - Kevin Rudd

"You should ask all his colleagues about his performance in the parliament each day trying to defend the government's position during the global financial crisis" - Kevin Rudd

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