BY ILYA ‘SCOOP’ GRIDNEFF
WHO FIRST BROUGHT THE STORY TO THE WORLD
KEVIN RUDD MAY HAVE LOST the headcount as the Labor Party tribe went to war, but one support group he can always count on is in a remote Papua New Guinea village.
A family in the isolated Eastern Highlands village of Degi is forever barracking for Rudd - especially because they named their first-born son after the former PM.
Kevin Rudd Junior was born in Goroka base hospital minutes after then PM Rudd visited during a whirlwind tour in March 2007.
Esau and Lina Kitgi were so impressed by Rudd’s visit they named their baby in his honour and have never given up being a true Rudd believer.
''We will always stand with him, we are diehards for Kevin,'' Kevin Rudd junior's Port Moresby-based uncle, Loven Forapi, said.
''Namesakes mean very big thing to us in PNG.”
Interestingly, another Eastern Highlands family, inspired under similar circumstances to Kevin Junior, named their daughter Julia Junior when Ms Gillard became Australia's first female prime minister in June 2010.
But Mr Forapi pointed out Mr Rudd had been to PNG three times - once to trek the Kokoda Track when in opposition, once after being elected PM and most recently as foreign minister. Prime Minister Gillard has never been to PNG.
''Rudd is a PNG man, when you ask any ordinary person on PNG's streets and in villages they will say K-E-V-I-N, not Julia. He is a household name here,'' he said.
Mr Forapi said despite Australia's political machinations the family was excitedly preparing for Kevin Junior’s fifth birthday celebrations on 7 March. Julia Junior's family was uncontactable.