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Rudd's challenge: A Howard confidante gives h -

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Rudd's challenge: A Howard confidante gives his assessment

Broadcast: 05/02/2008

Reporter: Tom Iggulden

The Sydney Institute examines how the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will deliver on the broad agenda he
took to the electorate.


TONY JONES: Kevin Rudd's Government is facing its first major challenge: managing the economy as
interest rates rise, and consumer confidence falls.

So, how will the Prime Minister deliver on the broad agenda he took to the electorate, and his
promise that the buck stops with him. Those questions were put to a panel of Canberra insiders
tonight at the Sydney Institute.

Lateline's Tom Iggulden went along.

TOM IGGULDEN: At first blush, Arthur Sinodinos is the wrong person to ask about Kevin Rudd's

He was John Howard's Chief of Staff when he took office, serving for ten years before joining
private enterprise.

He thinks Mr Rudd's already been diverted from his broad social agenda for change and into the
interest rate vortex that cost Mr Howard power.

ARTHUR SINODINOS, JOHN HOWARD'S FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF: In the case of Kevin, he doesn't want to
talk the language of economics. He doesn't want that to be his vehicle for engaging the public. He,
to some extent, has latched on to what some commentators describe as the "happiness agenda". In
other words, the idea that there's an agenda beyond meeting material aspirations.

TOM IGGULDEN: Mr Sinondinos stood at Mr Howard's shoulder for some of his toughest political

As to whether Kevin Rudd's got what it takes to implement his agenda, Mr Sinodinos boils it down to
a single issue.

ARTHUR SINODINOS: I found, in the time that I was in government, that it does really come down to
the values and beliefs of the leader, the Prime Minister.

TOM IGGULDEN: Whatever his values, one senior press gallery journalist thinks Mr Rudd's leadership
is already weighed down by his promise that the buck stops with him.

ANNABEL CRABB, JOURNALIST: ... We're seeing a qualification to the buck stoppage. The buck doesn't
stop with Mr Rudd when we're talking about problems that had their genesis in the behaviour of the
former government, which could pretty much, when you stretch it, apply to just about everything.

(Audience laughs)

TOM IGGULDEN: Tonight's discussion was supposed to be about the future of Kevin Rudd's leadership.
But most of the audience mostly wanted to known where things went so horribly wrong for his

(to Arthur Sinodinos) You've been in touch with your former boss, John Howard, since the election?

ARTHUR SINODINOS: Ah yes, I have been. I've been in touch on a number of occasions and everything
considered I think he's in pretty good form. I think he feels that he made the decisions he made at
the time based on, as I said tonight, the information available to him and once he's made the
decision, he was never one to look back.

TOM IGGULDEN: As for Mr Rudd's future?

ARTHUR SINODINOS: There are some big issues out there that he's seeking to tackle and he said the
buck stops with him. So, he's got some big issues to fix.

TOM IGGULDEN: Do you agree with Annabel Crabb that he's going to live to regret the words, the buck
stops with him?

ARTHUR SINODINOS: I think I'm always a cautious broadcaster. We'll just have to see how he goes.

TOM IGGULDEN: And all this, before Mr Rudd's even taken his first question in parliament as Prime

Tom Iggulden, Lateline.