A bearded Kevin Rudd and Louie the cat have been immortalised in his official portrait to mark his time as prime minister.

Mr Rudd took a break from his duties as ambassador to the US to attend the official unveiling at Parliament House on Thursday, almost 10 years after a then clean shaven Mr Rudd left office.

The portrait by Australia-born painter Ralph Heimans shows Mr Rudd at work at his kitchen table.

Louie the cat was also captured after he often crashed Mr Rudd’s portrait sittings. He’s pictured curiously padding around a leftover game of chess as the former prime minister watches on.

Mr Rudd’s family pets, cat Jasper and dog Abby, rose to fame when the Rudds moved into The Lodge in 2017.

The former prime minister went on to publish a children’s book with Rhys Muldoon, Jasper and Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle, about his beloved animals.

In 2016, a video of Mr Rudd chatting to his black cat Mei Mei, which he adopted from a New York shelter, went viral.

All former prime ministers’ portraits are hung in the Parliament House’s Historic Memorials Collection.

It is the first time a family pet has been captured as part of the collection.

Mr Rudd’s wife Therese Rein and family attended the ceremony alongside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, US ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy and Labor MPs.

In a speech marking the portrait’s first official viewing, Mr Rudd thanked his long-time ally and friend Mr Albanese for being a “key member” of his government.

Mr Rudd said that while he had to deal with the global financial crisis and the emerging threat of climate change, he thought Mr Albanese had a “much harder job”.

“When I look at what this government now has to wrestle with in this parliament against the huge structural challenges which we face, Prime Minister, you have the harder job than I did,” he said.

Mr Rudd noted the risk of war was a real threat, not a theory, the rise of AI and the accelerating climate crisis were all major challenges this government would have to deal with.

Mr Rudd, who delivered the National Apology to the Stolen Generation, drew a parallel between the fear campaigns raised then and the Voice to parliament

He asked Australians to consider whether the fear campaigns raised ahead of the referendum were justified.

“When they said the apology would be a problem for the nation, it would unleash this torrent of litigation from Indigenous communities across the country, that it would, in fact, send the centre process of reconciliation backwards, not forwards, we proved them wrong,” Mr Rudd said.

Mr Albanese said the National Apology was one of the “finest moments” in parliament since Federation.

“That apology was spoken about for a long period of time,” he said.

“It was said that it will result in division, that it would result in reparations, that it would be a moment of division; instead, what it was, was a moment of national unity.

“We have unfinished business but you made a contribution that can never be taken away.”


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By Rahul

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