Michael Gordon August 18, 2012
Kevin Rudd: 'I answer to my own conscience.' Photo: Paul Harris
AUSTRALIAN politics needed to carve out a new ''space'' in national life to ponder the big questions facing the nation and the world, Kevin Rudd said last night.
Mr Rudd outlined his ''utopian wish'' after being asked to nominate one thing he would change about politics.
The former prime minister nominated China's rise and the future drivers of the Australian economy as topics for discussion outside the ''hurly burly of day-to-day politics'', and lamented that too many Australian academics were timorous and disengaged when it came to putting new views forward.
Mr Rudd, who was speaking at the 21st birthday of Eureka Street magazine, made light of criticisms of his personal failings while prime minister, saying he had been accused of most things short of the fall of Western civilisation.
But he urged a packed auditorium at the University of Melbourne to not accept all that had been asserted, saying there were certain things he could have done better and ''I answer to my own conscience''.
He declined to be drawn on the detail of the asylum seeker debate aside from defending Immigration Minister Chris Bowen as a man who had ''looked at these things very, very carefully''.
Mr Rudd said there had been some successes and some failings on climate change during his prime ministership. He insisted his intention had been to defer action for two years, not put it off completely.