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The Man Tipped as Next Aussie Prime Minister ‘asked to leave NY strip club’

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I know what the headline says, but bear with me. Some background: with a federal election looming Down Under, and the once upon a time way too cunning Aussie PM John Winston Howard lagging so far behind in the polls they’re now holding a lantern out for him, the man who would be king is Labor leader Kevin Rudd: a bookish, nerdy-looking bloke who bears an uncanny resemblance to the Tin-Tin character from the famous French comic strip of the same name (indeed, so close is it, political cartoonist Bill Leak of The Australian newspaper never draws Rudd as anything but).

Howard’s Liberal Party (that’s a misnomer and would be a gross underestimation of political leanings that are marginally to the right of Genghis Khan if you were to use American liberalism as the yardstick) appears a lost cause after a decade in power.

So with the electorate facing a choice between a rock and a hard place with Rudd and Howard – who despite being hilariously called “The man of steel” by George W.Bush for sending troops to Iraq actually more closely resembles one of those plaster garden gnome characters with protruding teeth and a single facial expression – the poll (now tipped for November 6) was in grave danger of turning into the political equivalent of Mogadon and was widely regarded until this week as something approaching a snore-a-thon.

The concensus among voters — and in compulsory-voting Australia, that means everyone — is that it’s time for Howard to go, in no small part the result of his killing off in one fell swoop Australia’s generous and popular industrial relations and workplace laws at a time of great economic prosperity, and returning most of the cards to employers with his Orwellian-sounding “WorkChoices” — lampooned in Australia as “no choices”.

Australians have also had enough of the general arrogance of the Government and the litany of lies, half-truths (the best and most original of which were Howard’s breaking of previous election promises because they were “non-core”) and just too-far-to-the-right views in relation to human issues like immigrants and refugees. Howard now faces the prospect of being only the second sitting Australian PM to lose his own seat in an election, and the fact that the seemingly equally boring Rudd, who trades on his Christian, family values, is tipped as the next PM, is probably a mark of how frustrated Aussies are with Howard.

Previous Aussie PMs have included men like Labor’s Paul Keating, who turned the art of political insult into a living masterpiece on the blood-soaked floor of Parliament House, once famously suggesting that an attack by the Libs was akin to being flogged with a piece of warm lettuce. He also suggested Howard was a carcass swinging in the breeze, and that no one had the guts to cut him down. We like our PMs to strut the world stage, but without losing their Aussie larrikinism. Problem: Howard and Rudd weren’t larrikins in the first place, and certainly couldn’t hold their own in the public bar of a bush pub if push came to shove. Howard’s regarded as the sort of bloke that in the real world, you wouldn’t speak to at a party even if the beer had run out and you knew he was holding a few sly cans. Rudd, meanwhile, who loves to tell the story of how he was forced to sleep in the family car as a kid, has been regarded a thin-skinned intellectual bore with a glass jaw who can’t take the heat that comes with the tough turf of brawling Aussie politics.

Still with us? Good. Well, at least that’s what we all thought about boring Rudd until last weekend. That was when Australians woke up to newspaper headlines (Sunday’s RUDD’S STRIP CLUB NIGHT and yesterday’s cracker, POLL DANCER) informing them, gleefully, that Rudd had been booted out of the New York “gentleman’s” club Scores in 2003 while on a trip to NYC representing Australia as an observer at the UN.

The story, roughly, goes something like this: Rudd and a Northern Territory Labor MP, Warren Snowdon, had dinner with New York Post editor Col Allan, a former editor of Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph, at a Manhattan restaurant.

At the dinner, Rudd and Snowdon had a bit too much to drink (no one mentioned whether this was also the case with Allan, no slouch on the high stool himself and who presumably would have matched them glass for glass). Then as you do, Allan suggested they go out for a drink after their meal, and somehow — like at least 40 million other men since Adam — the trio ended up at a strip club. If my own experience is anything to go by, it probably only happened by osmosis and can be blamed entirely on the cab driver.

Still, Scores, hardly one of New York’s top cultural attractions, is said to be a pretty wild joint. According to those who’ve been there, you can discreetly and without leaving your comfy lap-dancing seat tip by credit card using “Diamond Dollars”, and it’s probably a good thing Rudd is claiming he has little memory of the night as Diamond Dollars are certain to be discussed in Parliament at some point during debate on Australia’s economy.

Allan, for his part, freely admitted the trio had ended up at a “gentlemen’s club” and that Rudd had behaved like a … well, like, “a gentleman”. Snowdon, meanwhile, whose electorate encompasses a part of Australia’s rugged outback better known for big guns and crocodiles than metrosexual leanings and reconstructed males, managed to maintain a dignified silence until yesterday, when he said he wasn’t as under the weather on the night as Rudd, felt intimidated at the club and that nothing untoward had taken place in the short time they’d been there. Right …

That runs counter to the good version being touted around the traps: that Rudd, who claims to have been goat-faced drunk on only one other occasion (a knees-up on the night of his 35th birthday), was also asked to leave the club allegedly for misbehaving, and the tittering suggestion is that this might have involved a laying on of hands, although that remains unsubstantiated. Still, even if it were more than a wink, wink, nod, nod suggestion, you wouldn’t think it was much of a reason for being hoiked out of a club that would seem to encourage such niceties for a price. Perhaps that was the problem: at the time, the exchange rate on the Aussie dollar was way down on the green back.

Somehow, the drama was swept under the carpet and managed to stay there for four years, only to be produced — lo and behold — a few months out from a federal election the Government seemingly can’t win. But if it WAS leaked by Howard’s insiders, it’s running the risk of seriously backfiring as online comment to newspapers seems to be giving the Labor leader a big thumbs up. Everyone seems to be looking at Kev with different eyes.

Indeed, most people I spoke to over the weekend thought that whilst hilarious, it made Rudd, with his “it seemed like a good idea at the time” defence, for once look more human. A few even said he’d gone up in their estimation.

And therein lies the rub: for what might be regarded as political suicide elsewhere, and in the US in particular, seems to have had the opposite effect on Rudd’s chances Down Under (and if people think that’s bad, they should consider the antics of Britain’s Conservative Party, where such things as being busted nude and alone with a tennis ball in your mouth and a whip tied around your neck is regarded as a normal night out).

When it comes to Aussie politics, it’s worth noting here that former Labor PM Bob Hawke was renowned for being a knockabout man-about-town and is said to have once asked feminist author Germaine Greer to hand him a beer while he was showering; that former Liberal leader Billy Snedden died in a highly compromising situation with his much-younger lover in a Sydney hotel room in the mid ’80s, and that former Liberal PM Malcolm Fraser, who was once regarded as a prim and proper conservative toff but remains a loved character in Australia because of his work for genuine humanitarian causes around the world, once turned up allegedly wrapped in a towel at the front desk of the run-down Admiral Benbow motel in Memphis, Tennessee (where he’d somehow found himself), complaining that his money, pants and particulars had been stolen. And those are only a few of the ones we know about.

As for Rudd, it’s doubtful it will have much of an impact on his chances despite his having puckered up to the evangelical happyclappers of the Christian Right in Australia – mainly because Australians still think the alternative is no longer the answer. That was brought home last week after an uproar over Howard’s promise at the last election that he would keep mortgage interest rates low because he was the only one with the economic credentials. That found its way into the rubbish bin of political history as a red-faced PM watched them rise for the fifth time since 2004.

Perhaps the last word on this affair should go to a women’s lobby group, the National Foundation for Australian Women, whose spokeswoman Marie Coleman told The Daily Telegraph: “If we hanged every bloke who was stupid, there wouldn’t be many left.” It’s a sentiment apparently shared by Rudd’s multimillionaire wife Therese Rein, who is said to have forgiven him — although you’d have loved to have been a fy on the wall when the Sunday papers lobbed on the kitchen table at brekkie.

The one other bizarre thing about this story is that it was written by respected Canberra political correspondent Glenn Milne. Milne got into a bit of strife himself last year for getting totally maggotted at Australian journalism’s prestigious Walkley Awards ceremony and leaping onto the stage to clobber another journalist after giving him a drunken gobful of ripe Aussie invective. That escapade, captured on national TV, lives on, now immortalised on YouTube, and tellingly, Milne – who blamed a combination of booze and medication – is still well liked and perhaps more importantly (for Milne at least), still gainfully employed.

But it’s out there and probably the best story in Australia this year, and we’ve all had a really good giggle over our cornflakes right across this big continent. Which means we can all get back to what’s important: deciding who’ll run the country and the economy the way we – the people of Australia – would like to see it run, unfortunate nights out at lap-dancing clubs and Diamond Dollars notwithstanding.

Perhaps the real reason for all this and why it’s not likely to affect Rudd’s election hopes is that the apple, as they say, never falls far from the tree – bearing in mind that Australia was settled by the party people of the British Empire: thieves, drunks, rogues, forgers, prostitutes, women of ill repute, and Irishmen.

A hell of a lot different from Puritan America, although — digressing a bit — what excuse Britain’s politicians have for their own kinky excesses and their sniggering acceptance by the Poms is anyone’s bloody guess. Good job they never sent those buggers out here, though.

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About the silver surfer

  • I was tempted to translate this article into English, but settled for adding links to defiitions for the bizarre aussie nomenclature. Except ‘tipped’ which I believe means the same as ‘tapped’ in English, though it might have something to do with whipping and ball gags.


  • S Dorsett

    Rudd is devious and sleezy. I don’t know why anyone would vote for this pretentious liar. He is a closet communist and he will lead the country down the path of annihilation.

    How a ‘feminist’ can believe his behaviour as something trivial is beyond me! Real feminists want to puke when they hear about Rudd.

    It’s a case of ‘better the devil you know’ when it comes to the election. Howard all the way!

  • Silver Surfer

    Dave, tipped … you know, as in tipping a horse to win a race??

  • S Dorsett

    Rudd is devious and sleazy. I don’t know why anyone would vote for this pretentious liar. He is a closet communist and he will lead the country down the path of annihilation.

    How a ‘feminist’ can believe his behaviour as something trivial is beyond me! Real feminists want to puke when they hear about Rudd.

    It’s a case of ‘better the devil you know’ when it comes to the election. Howard all the way!

    Why did Rudd use tax payer’s money for his ‘good night out’? He is a disgrace and is UNFIT TO RUN AUSTRALIA.

  • Silver Surfer

    Actually, Rudd didn’t use taxpayers’ money for his night out. There is no suggestion of that at all.

  • Silver Surfer

    Dorsett: Rudd is devious and sleazy.

    As opposed to John Howard, who is just an out an out liar and con man whose main claim to fame is sucking in the Australian people with a series of pea-and-thimble tricks.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Nice article, Stan. When I saw this story a couple of days ago I wondered whether you’d be weighing in on it.

    My immediate thought was that, in contrast to what would have happened in Britain or America, Rudd was very likely going to be worshipped as a hero – which is exactly what seems to be happening, by your account.

    One more reason to love Australia. BTW, his slogan is great: “Kevin 07”. Just wouldn’t work in any other accent.

  • STM

    Well, the truth is Doc, he’s been perceived as a boring bastard, but then look at the PM. Great choice.

    To say that everyone was surprised was an understatement. And just imagine if little Johnny Howard, friend of the little Aussie battler, had done something like that.

    People are still taking bets on when they’ll see Howard’s top lip move when he speaks, and the odds on a risky second facial expression are really long …

  • Clavos

    Enjoyable, fun read, SS!

    What interested me most was that I was able to pretty much understand the ‘Strine. Hhmm. Maybe I’m ready to get over there and have a look-see.

    Mate, one thing I’d like to hear more about:

    What was Germaine Greer doing in Mr. Hawke’s room while he was showering? Did she hand him the beer?

    Thanks for the treat!

  • STM

    Lol, in relation to Hawke. I believe he’d been at some sort of speaking engagement. I don’t know for sure, but the story has been arouind for many years and isn’t apocryphal. Apparently, discovering Ms Greer was also there, he invited her down to the room. She just happened to arrive while he was in the shower.

    The story goes that he poked his head out of the bathroom, and said: “G’day Germs, you couldn’t pass me another beer, could you?”

    I’m sure she was impressed.

    Also mate, it is a worry that you understood everything. I think even Nalle now understands most of the stuff, but I suppose every other bastard will be scratching their heads.

  • Dr Dreadful

    I’m sure Howard’s ears are still ringing from the backfire, and that he now realizes the only way he has a prayer of winning the election is for it to be suddenly discovered that he has been sneaking off to Oman every few weeks to visit his personal harem of nubile Arabian beauties.

    I’ll be watching the Asia-Pacific section of the BBC News website with great interest between now and November…

  • STM

    Yeah, what a low act eh, Doc? Mind you, the reported leaker is Alexander Downer, the Australian foreign minister – and a man known to like fishnets (on his own legs, though).

    I believe he once went to a fancy dress party attired thus, and is now often drawn wearing fishnets and high heels by cartoonists.

    Yes, this is a fun place, this. Well, except for little Johnny.

  • RJ

    Let me see if I got this right. John Howard has won election (and re-election) four times in a row. And now the Australian public is understandably suffering from “Howard-fatigue” because of this. And he’s also polling quite badly.

    All of the above is correct, correct?

    So, why is this guy running for a FIFTH consecutive term as PM? Why doesn’t he just step aside and allow the Liberal Party to run someone else (someone fresh, and younger) for that position? Why is he apparently so willing to drag his own party down with him, if he knows he’s almost certain to lose (and perhaps lose his own seat in the parliament as well)?

    Has he not groomed a credible successor after all these years in power (over a decade)?

    I mean, as an American I appreciate Howard’s support for the US in these difficult times. But is the man stupid? You cannot PERSONALLY win election FIVE times in a row, especially when your government is unpopular, unless you live in a communist dictatorship or something.

    Someone from Australia please explain to me why he hasn’t stepped aside like Blair did…for the sake of the party as well as the nation…

  • STM

    The bloke thinks he’s a genius. He thinks we all love him, but he’s wrong. In short, he’s a bit deluded, RJ.

    Within his own party, the No 2, the Treasurer, Peter Costello, was told that he’d get the leadership in 2004 but Howard changed his mind. I think Costello, who is a really good economic manager and presides over possibly the strongest performing economy in the western world right now, could have won – at a pinch. There is some enmity between the two over it.

    But it’s too late now. Howard has buggered it up. He’s yesterday’s man, and no one’s listening anymore to anything the Government has to say.

  • alessandro nicolo

    Marge Simpson: “I’ll have coffee.”

    Australian Bartender: “Beer it is.”

    I’m not sure how to interpret this, what, with all the Aussisms but it was one fun read.

    I think John Howard is related to former Canadian PM Jean Chretien. In fact, the first part of your article made me wonder if I was reading about Canadian politics.

    Whatever. That link on You Tube had me choking on my raisin bran. Fucking hilarious. I wish we’d see this at the Oscars or any other stupid awards ceremony. Scorsese should have considered body checking someone like that.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Stan: I’m sure you’ve heard the new joke that’s making the rounds Down Under, but for the benefit of everyone else:

    “Did you hear about the disappointing poll Kevin Rudd saw yesterday? It didn’t have a gyrating naked woman swinging on it.”


  • STM

    Hah, yes … ! Very funny. I have to say though, Doc, it has been an utter hoot, the whole thing.

    He really is boring (and being a God-botherer doesn’t help) and honestly the last person I would have expected to see busted for going to a lap-dancing club and getting goat-faced on the piss.

    He’s also fluent in Mandarin and I would have thought that in terms of cultural attractions, the Guggenheim and the MOMA would have been more in keeping with his intellectual (well not pretensions, really 🙂 bent.

    I just hope nevertheless he knocks off little Johnny. Enough is enough, fair dinkum. We need a change. Rudd gets my nod just for getting caught.

  • Clavos

    Where did he pick up the Mandarin, Stan?

    Is he the son of missionaries, mayhap?

  • STM

    No, Clav, he was a diplomat and also worked for KPMG in China I believe. He has a PhD I think, and is very intellectual, which is why this is all so hilarious. Just the idea of it all is a hoot.

    It hasn’t harmed hisw chances at all, and because this is Australia, it might even have improved them.

    I believe John Howard’s only chance now for an election victory is to be busted DUI at 3am on a stolen golf cart.

    Otherwise, he’s rooted. We are very suspicious of “saints” here.

  • RJ: So, why is this guy running for a FIFTH consecutive term as PM? Why doesn’t he just step aside and allow the Liberal Party to run someone else (someone fresh, and younger) for that position? Why is he apparently so willing to drag his own party down with him, if he knows he’s almost certain to lose (and perhaps lose his own seat in the parliament as well)?

    Has he not groomed a credible successor after all these years in power (over a decade)?

    I like what the Rev. Tim Costello said at the national press club. “I’m not sure if you’ve read Lord of the Rings, but I’m beginning to suspect the Prime Minstership is a bit like the one ring.”

    The thing is, Howard doesn’t seem to respond to public outcry. A few people have actually commented that Howard can’t be debated with, and that’s why Rudd has been agreeing with Howard on so many policies.

    Rudd is positioning himself as someone who listens. And in doing so stealing Howard’s thunder.

    Rudd stands a very good chance of election, and I support his policies. That an I my self am bored with Howard’s face. I’m in no mood to spend a whole half of my lifetime under the same prime minister.

  • STM

    Also Johnathan, I’ll bet you 50 bucks no one ever sees his top lip move. Even his eyebrows have more life than his face. And let’s not talk about the risky second facial expression.

  • albert rodgers

    rud kept australia out of resession give credit we are a multi culterul sosity our land and our resorers can onley support the people who are willing to work to erean the right to be hear when they arrive put them to work ? wear did they get the money to pay put them to work for 2 years rember the snoer montin scheem