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Sunset for Rudd's, Hockey's TV gig -

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Sunset for Rudd's, Hockey's TV gig

Reporter: Michael Brissenden

KERRY O'BRIEN: The sun's set today on one of television's most unusual and enduring political
partnerships. After a week of damaging scrutiny over the plans by Channel 7's 'Sunrise' program for
a false dawn service from Vietnam featuring Kevin Rudd, the Labor leader and his regular Liberal
sparring partner on the program, Joe Hockey, have both walked away from their weekly appearances.
As it became increasingly clear last week that Mr Rudd's office knew about the TV network's Anzac
Day plans, the ground just got stickier and stickier for both politicians and their loyalty to the
program. But for the Opposition Leader, trying to keep his lead in the opinion polls intact, it had
threatened to become an even more damaging debate about character. Political Editor Michael
Brissenden reports.

KEVIN RUDD, OPPOSITION LEADER: The era has begun.

JOE HOCKEY, WORKPLACE RELATIONS MINISTER: A flash, real flash.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: For more than five years now, the viewers of 'Sunrise' have grown with Kevin
and Joe. They call themselves "the Sunrise family". The competition has taken to derisively
referring to them as "the cult".

KEVIN RUDD: You've got a flashier office.

JOE HOCKEY: No, the office doesn't change, just the title.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The fact is, through the froth and bubble, the laughs and the jokes, they've
already become a big deal. 'Sunrise' is now a ratings leader, Joe Hockey is in Cabinet and Kevin
Rudd is the Leader of the Opposition. But today was proof that sometimes, even at dawn, the sun can
burn.

KEVIN RUDD: Look, I'm a long standing mate of Joe Hockey's and when it comes to being on television
with a long standing mate who represents, now, a senior representative of the opposing political
party, as I do to him, it simply got too hard and difficult to do that sort of segment.

REPORTER: Did you advise him to quit 'Sunrise'?

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: I don't have anything more to say other than what I've said on that. I
think the outcome of both of them pulling out is good.

REPORTER: Why do you say it's good?

JOHN HOWARD: I think the incident has not been something that hasn't left a bad taste in people's
mouths.

MARK DAY, NEWS LIMITED MEDIA WRITER: He made a mistake on 'Sunrise'; the moment he got the top job,
he should have quit that. It served him well in getting to the top, but it was infra dig for the
alternative Prime Minister to be part of a cult like family on morning television. But this is what
happens to politicians frequently. It's that old hubris thing.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Television, like politics, is a ratings business. The idea of getting
politicians on board on a regular basis is nothing new. But the Kevin Rudd Joe Hockey mateship has
been a television and political oddity and a ratings winner for all concerned. And one for which
the players are prepared to push well beyond the normally accepted boundaries.

KEVIN RUDD (sings): That's the reason sometimes I'm feeling under.

JOE HOCKEY (sings): That's the reason sometimes I'm feeling down.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Yes, this is a program that's taken its viewers and its prize big hitters well
beyond studio predictability.

NEWS REPORT: Kevin Rudd is the headline act at tonight's dinner.

KEVIN RUDD (sings): Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

From glen to glen and down the mountainside...

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Last year's Anzac Day pilgrimage to the Kokoda Track proved to be a clever mix
of mateship, endurance, patriotism and politics. And who said you can't have friend in politics?

JOE HOCKEY: Should I let it go now? I've got the money from Beazley, I should have left him. I'm
sorry, Kim.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The program has helped both lift their public profiles, and in Kevin Rudd's
case, provided a not insignificant platform for his own leadership ambitions. Some in the Liberal
Party even blame Joe Hockey for some of the Rudd success. But in the last couple of weeks,
'Sunrise' produced a false dawn that has left many asking where their true loyalties lie.

DAVID KOCH, 'SUNRISE' PRESENTER: Kevin, did you or anyone from your office request to either move
the official service or hold a fake service?

KEVIN RUDD: Absolutely not, Kochie. Neither myself, nor my office made any request of that nature
to anybody at any time. Anzac Day is sacred for all Australians. I'd never be party to any request
to change services. Our veterans and our Vietnam veterans deserve to be properly respected on Anzac
day and my understanding is that's what Joe and I had agreed originally to do.

JOE HOCKEY: No one should in any way doubt the intentions of 'Sunrise', of Adam Boland, of Kochie,
Kevin Rudd or anyone else. The intention has always been to honour the Diggers, in that case, in
Vietnam. Let's move on.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: There are some golden rules in politics. These days, one of the most important
is "Don't mess with Anzac Day". When the story broke that 'Sunrise' planned to fake a dawn service
with Kevin Rudd, one hour early in Vietnam to fit with the program's schedule, the headlines were
predictably tough. As we've seen, Joe Hockey's initial loyalties remained with the program, but his
own colleagues weren't impressed and, by Sunday, his response had hardened.

JOE HOCKEY: Certainly over the last 72 hours there's been the emergence of quite a bit of
information that requires a lot of answers from Mr Rudd. I think Mr Rudd has to explain to the
Australian people exactly what his office's involvement was and to clarify some of the key issues
that are being raised in the media.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: But the problems for Kevin Rudd go further. His initial reaction to the
'Telegraph' story was to go in hard.

MARK DAY: If you were going to reject assertions by a newspaper such as the 'Telegraph' as in this
case, you've got to be certain you're on firm ground. Now he didn't have all the information. He
came out fighting. He came out swinging, he came out denying. He came out turning it around and
pointing back at the people, his accusers, and suddenly emails were unearthed to find that things
were not as he said and he's got a large lick of egg on his face over this. But it also proves that
old adage, never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the tonne.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: But pick a fight he did, with the editor and in phone calls with News Limited's
boss in Australia, John Hartigan. When it became clear his office had been warned that veterans
would find the plans offensive, he said his staff had failed to bring the emails to his attention.
The whole episode, when criticism and legitimate probing is viewed as a personal attack, has once
again exposed a weakness in Kevin Rudd, a glass jaw. A few weeks earlier when the 'Sun Herald'
initially sought comment on claims that contradicted Mr Rudd's memories of his family's eviction
from the share farm when he was an 11-year-old boy, the Opposition Leader rang the paper's editor
in an attempt to get that story pulled. The thing is, this is high stakes politics and not
show-business.

KEVIN RUDD (sings): There's no wonder sometimes I'm feeling under.

JOE HOCKEY (sings): Got to keep my faith alive in love these days.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The 'Sunrise' crew might well ask, where is the love? But the politicians have
to earn it.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Political Editor Michael Brissenden. That backdrop was quite something.