Kevin Rudd is ditching the optimism of his predecessor and selling himself as the best leader to steer Australia through a downturn as Chinese demand wanes.
The new prime minister, who ousted Julia Gillard last week as the ruling Labor party headed toward a landslide election loss, is channeling his ex-boss Ross Garnaut in flagging that the end of a China-led mining boom could lead to a recession. He’s highlighted the dangers posed by a slowing China in at least five statements and warned policies advocated by his opponent Tony Abbott would result in British-style contraction.
As employers including Ford Motor Co. cut jobs, Rudd’s language puts him more in tune with voters than the message of prosperity and employment growth emphasized by Gillard and former Treasurer Wayne Swan. Rudd, 55, is betting his record as leader through the 2007-2009 financial crisis, when Australia sustained growth amid global turmoil, will help close Labor’s two-year opinion-poll deficit.