Sir Les Patterson

The Unofficial Webshite

How not to damage Australia's image abroad

Our new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd (the dentist), has had as many overseas trips at the taxpayers' expense as I have. Unlike a couple of his predecessors, he has not sought my advice about discreet rub-and-tug shops in Bangkok, though I would have been delighted to assist him should he be desirous of getting his rocket polished in a tasteful setting. He needs to watch his back, however, because Malcolm Turnbull - the next prime minister, incidentally - is waiting for the first opportunity to shaft him. Malcolm, like me, comes from a good old Irish-Australian background, but he once gave me a serve in the British press, accusing me of damaging Australia’s overseas image. I didn’t give a stuff because, quite frankly, I am Australia’s overseas image. But I had to hand it to old Mal. If you’re a nonentity, as he was at the time, the best way to get a bit of publicity is to impugn the patriotism of a bloke everyone knows and loves. I felt like shaking his hand, though my hand was pretty busy at the time. Are you with me?

Diary and Diplomatic Notebook both from The Spectator