KEVIN Rudd was a "Grade A arsehole", Bob Hawke went from being the nation's best prime minister to one of the worst and Clive Palmer is running the country.
These were among the frank observations made to a captive audience at yesterday's Better Business lunch where high profile Labor powerbroker and respected media commentator Graham "Richo" Richardson reflected on his time as a government minister and political kingmaker.
From the moments the lights were dimmed at the Hervey Bay RSL, Mr Richardson took the crowd back to the Hawke era, recalling a man who in the early days would have a beer with blue collar workers and listen to their grievances but by the end, "if he wasn't with the chairman of the board, he didn't want to be there".
Happy to take the credit for the ousting of Hawke and crowning of Paul Keating, Mr Richardson joked that when he was shafted from the role of defence minister in favour of a tantrum throwing Robert Ray, he warned Hawke "I'll get ya one day" and as it turned out, he did.
An informal, on stage, interview with Fraser Coast Opportunities Enterprise manager Scott Rowe, analysed the embarrassing leadership battle between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, prompting Mr Richardson to reiterate that despite decades of loyalty to the Labor Party, he genuinely believed Tony Abbott deserved to win.
Musing that while nine months under Abbott had dispelled any consideration he may have previously given to leaving the Labor Party, Mr Richardson maintained both Gillard and Rudd were "dreadful politicians" and in the case of Rudd, a "dreadful human being".
Confident he was speaking to what was a largely conservative crowd, Mr Richardson quipped Keating still "hasn't forgiven you all for 96".
He also gave an exclusive peak at some of the stories set to appear in his upcoming book - at one point recalling the day his good friend, media mogul Kerry Packer, threw a plate of bacon and eggs at the wall of his Hunter Valley mansion after learning he would not get Pay TV.
His tone took on a more serious note when, in response to a question about eccentric billionaire Clive Palmer, he said that when a man who was essentially able to "buy votes" currently wielded as much power as the Prime Minister, something was "very wrong".
Fraser Coast Opportunities general manager David Speer applauded Mr Richardson for his honesty and thanked him for his efforts in ensuring the inaugural event, was a "great success".
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