Life after politics: Kevin Rudd continues his jetsetting ways

Not even a resounding election defeat could clip the wings of Kevin 747.

In his first three months out of office, former prime minister Kevin Rudd went on a jet lag-inducing odyssey of eight foreign capitals, spending 60 days outside Australia.

The Mandarin speaker met Chinese officials and delivered speeches in Beijing on four separate week-long trips in September, October and November.

He has flown to New York and London three times, Paris twice and had engagements in Washington DC, Bahrain, Zurich and Toronto.

On every trip Mr Rudd has requested assistance from Australian consular staff to arrange VIP airport transfers and transport to meetings. In a few cases he didn't request transport to all the meeings he had scheduled.

Department of Foreign Affairs documents show Mr Rudd only spent a significant amount of time in Australia during a three-week period in which he quit Parliament, citing the strains on family for his exit from politics.

Seven days after his tearful final speech he boarded a plane with an itinerary for November 21 to December 11 that read: New York, Canada, Boston, London, New York, London, New York, Washington.

In London, he requested a driver and car for the duration of his time in Britain but DFAT records the ''London post'' as having been unable to provide a car. In New York, the embassy made available a staff member as an ''airport facilitator'' and a car and driver.

By comparison, former prime minister Julia Gillard took two overseas trips during the same post-election period. On both occasions she requested and received airport facilitation and received transport during a two-day trip to Bali.

A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said the retiring MP is still eager to remain engaged with global issues.

‘‘Prior to, throughout and post his time in Parliament, Mr Rudd has maintained an active interest in international affairs,’’ she said.

The spokeswoman also said the DFAT assistance was standard for a former prime minister and foreign minister.

‘‘Provision of such assistance is covered in DFAT guidelines and applies to all former prime ministers and former portfolio ministers."

DFAT guidelines state that the public profile of former prime ministers ''makes it almost impossible for them to be free of the commitments and demands naturally arising from having held such an office at the national level''.

"Former prime ministers have access to car transport for specific journeys only when travelling overseas on official business as a former prime minister in locations where an overseas post maintains a vehicle fleet. The entitlement should not be used for commercial purposes.''

Meanwhile Bob Carr this week responded to a Senate estimates hearing request for details of his side visits during his time as foreign minister.

On Thursday, Mr Carr said the questions were a calculated stunt by a new government that was out of its depth on the world stage.

''Instead of attacking their predecessor, Julie Bishop and her office should spend their energy mastering their brief and fixing relations with Indonesia and China,'' he said.

A spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Ms Bishop declined to respond.

Follow us on Twitter

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop