06 April 2009

NEWS - Kevin Rudd a Workplace Bully says Bishop

Rudd's a bully: Bishop

JULIE Bishop has suggested sexism, not just rudeness, was behind Kevin Rudd's reducing a flight attendant to tears, as the Opposition continues to use the incident to expose what it calls the Prime Minister's "darker side".

The Deputy Opposition Leader said Mr Rudd was a bully, and mentioned the flight attendant's gender to make the point he had abused his position in an unequal power relationship.

"This is a very powerful man in a privileged position bullying a female defence member whose job it is to wait on the Prime Minister as he travels around the world on a taxpayer-funded private jet," Ms Bishop told ABC TV yesterday.

"Bullying behaviour by the Prime Minister in particular towards a female member of our serving defence force is totally unacceptable.

"The kind of bullying that reduced her to tears and ended up in an incident report being filed ... would not be accepted in any workplace across Australia. It reflects very badly on him."

Opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said the attempt by the Prime Minister's office to cover up the incident was worse than Mr Rudd's angry outburst.

Mr Rudd apologised last week after it was revealed he had snapped at a 23-year-old Royal Australian Air Force flight attendant because he was not served the vegetarian meal he had ordered during a flight from Papua New Guinea to Australia in January.

News Limited newspapers have reported that Mr Rudd's press secretary, Lachlan Harris, tried to deny the incident happened when originally contacted for comment.

"What was more alarming out of that entire incident, not just going off the handle at the RAAF staff, but the fact his office was lying to the Australian people about what actually happened," Mr Hockey said yesterday.

"This illustrates a pattern of behaviour out of his office that they are prepared to mislead the Australian people as to the truth of the matter."

Mr Rudd's chief of staff, Alister Jordan, has said both the Prime Minister and he have "full confidence" in Mr Harris.

Opposition frontbencher Nick Minchin said Australians were seeing the real Kevin Rudd, whom people in parliament were already familiar with.

"He's been quite appropriately nicknamed Kevin Rude ... as a result of this episode," Senator Minchin said.

"Those of us who work and live in Parliament House have known for years there's two sides to Kevin Rudd, and that behind closed doors he's prone to temper tantrums and this sort of belittling and very bad behaviour with his own staff.

"For him to reduce a 23-year-old air hostess to tears because of a temper tantrum over his meal is completely and utterly unforgivable. I think Australians are now seeing gradually another side to the bloke they elected Prime Minister 18 months ago."

Mr Rudd has pleaded for understanding over the incident, telling reporters in London: "I'm only human.

"As I said, we're all human - we all make mistakes, your Prime Minister included."


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