If a millionaire politician puts his home on the market in Canberra, it’s not much of a story. When it’s Kevin Rudd, that’s another matter.
Kevin Rudd’s mansion in Yarralumla is up for sale, prompting more speculation that he hopes to return to his former Canberra home, The Lodge, the official residence of the prime minister.
He paid $2,175,000 for the two-storey residence in 2010, just days after he was ousted from the prime ministership by Julia Gillard. Now it is on the market for $2,250,000.
After taking up residence in tree-lined Mueller Street three years ago, Mr Rudd set up an unofficial “government-in-exile”. Just five minutes’ drive from The Lodge, it was here that he launched his bid to retake the prime ministership.
Neighbours talk of a constant flow of guests at all hours of the day and night, including ministers, MPs, journalists, diplomats, academics and lobbyists.
In January 2012 the Rudd family vacated the Yarralumla residence and leased it to private tenants. The timing is significant. His children had completed their schooling in Canberra and some saw logic to the family’s return to Brisbane. But a month after installing tenants, Rudd resigned as foreign minister and challenged Ms Gillard for his old job.
If he planned to move back to The Lodge, he was sadly mistaken. At the Caucus meeting he was resoundingly defeated by 71 votes to 31 and “Kevin from Queensland” returned to his Griffith electorate vowing not to make another challenge for the leadership.
Why is Rudd selling the Yarralumla home now? Theories abound and here are some of them:
• Perhaps he has renewed hopes that his next home in Canberra will be The Lodge and that the private residence is surplus to his requirements;
• Or maybe he is convinced that his Canberra political career is at an end and that he will lose his Brisbane seat to high-profile Liberal candidate Dr Bill Glasson, former federal AMA president;
• He has his sights set on a new career at the United Nations in New York as one of its fulltime commissioners.
Interviewed by Ellen Fanning, Greg Rudd said he expected an incoming Coalition government led by Tony Abbott to offer his older brother Kevin an overseas job.
Always a player
“Kevin helped (Australia to gain) with the UN Security Council spot and I’m sure there be something tied to that,” Greg Rudd said. “Then, after Ban Ki-Moon (UN secretary-general) finishes his stint, Kevin might be a contender for that.” (The Observer Effect, SBS One, June 16)
“Kevin is always going to a player whether it is on the domestic stage or the world stage. He’ll always be a player somewhere.”
The Yarralumla residence now on the market is a far cry from the outer suburbs of Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne where Rudd has conducted a barnstorming campaign in recent weeks. It has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a swimming pool and a wine cellar and is set on a 936 sq metre block with a floor space of 465 sq metres.
ACT real estate firm, the Peter Blackshaw Agency, describes the property as “luxury living and lifestyle to match”.
It is a “sophisticated and luxurious home” and an “immaculately presented property” with exceptional quality finishes such as hardwood floors in the kitchen and living areas, stone bench tops and limestone accent tiles.
Other glamorous features include double ovens, a separate butler’s pantry, a “fabulous” alfresco entertaining area, a “gracious” formal lounge, a main dining area for 14 guests “with ease”, a separate hallway directly to the kitchen “perfect for discreet wait staff”, a downstairs study, a private gym overlooking the pool, crafted built-in bookcases throughout the home and formal Italianate gardens featuring “an array of roses in abundance throughout the season with pleasing symmetry, camellias and a waft of star jasmine can be enjoyed from the pool and barbeque areas.”
The residence is protected by electric gates and a state-of-the-art security system. The website advertising concludes: “This home is perfect for family and stylish entertaining. In Yarralumla – what’s not to like?”
A footnote from history: after Labor’s victory in the October 1929 election, the incoming Prime Minister Jim Scullin (1929-32) heeded the Wall Street Crash, growing unemployment and the national austerity by declining to live at The Lodge and took up residence at the Hotel Kurrajong. It was a precedent followed by another Labor Prime Minister, Ben Chifley (1945-49).
What would they make of today’s power – and property – scramble?