Rudd to be a regular on Mitchell show

JULIA Gillard said no but Kevin Rudd has said yes to a regular spot on Neil Mitchell's 3AW program.

Mitchell said he had tried ''for several years'' to get Ms Gillard on the program regularly but ''she continues to avoid me''. But, after months, he has snared Mr Rudd.

''I … mentioned that Sir Robert Menzies, when he was dumped as prime minister, did a series of fireside chats to the people - 80 radio speeches in the early '40s … Kevin Rudd, dumped, can do the same thing … ''

Mr Rudd quipped: ''I'm no Bob Menzies and I'm not a candidate.''

Quizzed on the program about Ms Gillard's responses to questions on her conduct as a Slater & Gordon lawyer in the so-called AWU slush fund affair, in which her then boyfriend allegedly stole money, Mr Rudd said: ''I think the Prime Minister has responded effectively to these questions so far and oppositions will continue to ask whatever they like.''

His first regular spot saw Mr Rudd grilled on his future and high profile. Asked whether he wanted to go back onto the frontbench, he said: ''Not necessarily. I'm perfectly happy where I am. And the answer is no.''

He denied his frenetic round of appearances had to do with his leadership ambitions. He said he prided himself on being a local member. He also believed he had a contribution to make to the national policy debate, from the economy to indigenous affairs. And he was galvanised by some big international challenges. ''I've spent a lot of time with the China question because it's going to be the number one economy in the world within the next decade and avoiding conflict between them and the Americans is huge.''

MICHELLE GRATTAN

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