Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Sunday said he would not apologise for using swearwords in front of his colleagues, arguing Australian politics had a long tradition of “robust” language.
Rudd was commenting after News Limited newspapers reported he turned the air blue when a group of politicians from his Labor Party confronted him about curbing their electoral allowances earlier this month at a private meeting.
“I don’t care what you fuckers think!” the centre-left leader reportedly told them, before singling one out and telling him “You can get fucked … don’t you fucking understand?”
Rudd did not deny swearing, saying he wanted to make his point forcefully.
“It’s fair to say, consistent with the traditions of the Australian Labour Party, we’re given to robust conversations,” he told reporters in the United States, where he will attend this week’s G20 summit.
“I made my point of view absolutely clear. These entitlements needed to be cut back. I make no apology for either the content of my conversation or the robustness with which I expressed my views.”
Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said he doubted the eight politicians at the end of the prime ministerial tirade, including three women, were too upset at Rudd’s language.
“One of the amusing things in the article was the suggestion that Labor backbenchers might have been horrified at someone swearing at them,” Tanner told public broadcaster ABC.
“The truth is that politics, whether it’s on our side or the other side, is a robust business where exchanges of views can sometimes be laced with less than polite descriptions — that’s life.” – AFP