Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rudd, Turnbull And That Ute

This past few days accusations have been flying around the Australian Parliament about Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (or his staff) allegedly using his position to help a friend gain access to government-supplied finance.

The same friend has "lent" Mr Rudd a utility truck (ute) which he uses as a mobile billboard in his Brisbane electorate.

The Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull sees this a a flagrant abuse of Prime Ministerial power while Mr Rudd denies the accusations. An Auditor General's investigation into the matter kicks off shortly but right now it's a case of he said she said.

One PR outcome is certain. Either the Prime Minister or the Opposition Leader is likely to emerge with damage to his personal brand.

Mr Rudd has consistently advocated for open and transparent government. If the accusation is proven the Prime Minister's credibility and reputation will take a hit. He will be seen as failing to walk the talk on ministerial accountability and broken a key PR commandment: you can't say one thing then do another.

In the end if Mr Turnbull's charges fail he will be criticised for misleading the public. And many people will wonder why he chose to divert the national attention to a trivial matter and way from key issues such as climate change and an uncertain economy.

Meanwhile the rest of us will watch this issue unfold - mostly in the media - as both men go all out to prove their communications credibility. It's likely to prove a fascinating case study in media relations, reputation management perhaps even crisis communications.

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