Key: 'We'll understand' if Aussies pick Rudd over Clark for UN

  • 19/07/2016
John Key and Kevin Rudd in 2009 (Getty)
John Key and Kevin Rudd in 2009 (Getty)

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key won't weigh in on whether or not he thinks the Australian government should back Kevin Rudd's bid to become the next Secretary-General of the United Nations.

However, he doesn't think the former Australian Prime Minister's potential candidacy will have an impact on Kiwi Helen Clark's campaign to lead the UN.

It was confirmed on Monday that Mr Rudd had asked the Australian government to endorse his nomination for the secretary-general position.

Australian Labor leader Bill Shorten has come out backing Mr Rudd, insisting he is suitably qualified for the job, while Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said it's ultimately a matter for cabinet to decide.

There are already 12 declared candidates to replace Ban Ki-moon when his term comes to an end, including former New Zealand Prime Minister Ms Clark.

Speaking to reporters in Jakarta, Mr Key said it was up to the Australian government to decide whether or not it wanted to support Mr Rudd.

"Personally I think it's time that the United Nations had a woman at the helm, I think Helen Clark has by far the best credentials, she's proven over the course of this more transparent part of the process to have acquitted herself incredibly well and that's where our support lies," he said.

"We don't do that in a reserved way, we do that because we genuinely hope she wins."

Mr Key said New Zealand would "love it" if Australia could get behind Ms Clark's bid and that it was something he had discussed with both former prime minister Tony Abbott and his successor Malcolm Turnbull.

"Hopefully the Australians support Helen Clark, but if they don't, we'll understand why."

The UN Security Council will hold its first straw poll on who should be the next Secretary-General later this week.

The Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Security Council.