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Kevin Rudd: Keeping Australia on the world stage

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Talk Asia with Kevin Rudd
  • Australia Prime Minister says he has "clear cut vision" for Australia on the world stage
  • Failure in Copenhagen to reach consensus on emissions cuts "is not an option"
  • On differences between China and Australia: "Well, that's life"

(CNN) -- After nearly two years in office, Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, remains committed to keeping Australia at the forefront of global affairs.

"We have a clear cut vision for Australia at home and abroad," he told CNN from The Lodge, his official residence in Canberra.

Yet his position as a global statesman was recently criticized by another Australian with a different type of global influence, Rupert Murdoch.

While the Australian media mogul called Rudd a "very able" and "very intelligent man" in an interview on Sky TV earlier this month, he also criticized him for being "more ambitious to lead the world than lead Australia" and delusional in believing he could influence global attitudes on climate change.

In response, Rudd told CNN: "We are capable of walking and chewing gum here; attending to the local, doing what we're paid to do but being effective, I hope; and constructive global and regional citizens."

A Chinese-speaker and former diplomat in Beijing, Rudd however is sanguine about Australia's relationship with China, its largest trading partner. It's a relationship that has been strained with the arrest of Australian citizen Stern Hu, head of Rio Tinto's iron ore business in China, on spying charges in August.

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Wednesday, December 2: 12.30 GMT (20.30 Hong Kong)
Thursday, December 3: 03.30 GMT (11.30 Hong Kong)
Saturday, December 5: 11.00, 20.30 GMT (19.00, 04.30 Hong Kong)
Monday, December 7: 23.30 GMT (07.30 Hong Kong)

"With China it's always going to be a challenging relationship from time to time. They have a different political system. Fundamental differences. We understand that, we respect those differences. From time to time you're going to rub up against each other. Well, that's life. There's a lot going on between both countries," he told CNN.

On taking office two years ago, one of the first things Rudd did was to sign the Kyoto Protocol, and despite criticism he remains committed to forging a global consensus on climate change.

"There are times in the history of humankind when you've actually got to step up to the plate. This, I believe, is one of them. It's clear we are now going through extraordinary changes in terms of global temperature.

"The moral, the economic, and the environmental obligations are huge and they are transparent. We actually have to 'punch through' and it's going to be tough."

Failure in Copenhagen, he told CNN, "is not an option at all."

"I cannot face the prospect of looking back in 20 or 25 years time and face my kids, and grand kids by then, and say "Dad what did you do?'"