Despite the fact that Kevin Rudd – the fluent Mandarin speaking leader of the Australian Labor Party – is widely predicted to romp it in at the Australian Federal election this coming Saturday, it seems he’s not taking any chances. The latest salvo in Rudd’s “earnestness offensive” according to the Sydney Morning Herald, takes form in a seven-metre billboard of The Great Rudd (see right) that has been suspended above Cameron Road in Hong Kong for the past two weeks.
At $HK80,000 a month, the billboard is a key part of the Labor Party’s aggressive campaign to lure overseas Australians to the polling booths. As the Herald points out:
In 2004 there were 68,544 votes cast by Australians overseas, according to Sasha Nimmo, of the Australian Electoral Commission. More than 20,000 of these came from the Australian High Commission in London. The next biggest number – 7768 – came from the Australian Consulate-General in Hong Kong.
Rudd, otherwise known as Liu Kewen (陆克文), has been taking full advantage of his Mandarin skills and China connections during the election campaign. Only two weeks ago, he was yammering away about, amongst other things, his Chinese son-in-law, in a 40-minute interview on CCTV 9 conducted in Mandarin and English (see video link below). Most analysts agree that this was a deliberate move by Rudd to reach Chinese Australian voters in Prime Minister John Howard’s own electorate. Almost 10% of electors in Howard’s seat were born in Hong Kong or mainland China.
Rudd has been derided as a “media tart” in the past. Indeed, his management of the press since taking over as Labor leader has been quite deft. But not even the slickest of spin-doctors can keep a lid on everything. While Rudd has been waxing lyrical in Mandarin on Chinese TV, the attention of Chinese netizens has been on a different type of wax. Ear wax. To be even more precise, the kind of ear wax that a school-boyish looking Rudd used to covertly sample as a bored backbencher sitting in parliament. China Daily‘s blow-by-blow account of this scene, which is now immortalized on Youtube (see video below), ranks fourth on a Baidu search for “陆克文”. Let’s hope this China Hand keeps his own hands where they should be in future.
Friendly reminder to Aussie Shanghaiists
Please get down to the Australian Consulate General to vote. Voting will continue to take place every day from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm including on Election Day Saturday, 24 November 2007.
Sydney Morning Herald: Kevin’s above, he’s even big in Hong Kong
Video of Rudd on CCTV 9: Kevin Rudd, Leader of Australian Labor Party & Prime Ministerial candidate
Youtube: Kevin Rudd eating ear wax during Question Time
China Daily: 澳总理候选人吃耳垢被拍 视频上网形象受损
Shanghaiist: Kevin Rudd as Chairman Mao
Shanghaiist: A new dawn in Sino-Australian relations?