Just hours before getting on the plane, Rudd called Brereton to inform him of the trip. This call took place only after the Howard government had started briefing members of the press gallery, meaning that Rudd had manoeuvred with the government against his own party's spokesperson.
A spokesman for [Alexander] Downer said that the episode 'just proves Mr Brereton's irrelevance...'
The Indonesian government** did not direct its criticism at the Labor Party as a whole; rather, it strove to isolate Brereton by singling out Rudd as an appropriate representative. It is important to note that Rudd's name was not suggested to the Indonesian government by the Indonesian ambassador but by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade..."
- Clinton Fernandes, pp.61-62 Reluctant Saviour: Australia, Indonesia and the independence of East Timor, 2004 Scribe Publications, Melbourne.
*Brereton was Labor's Foreign Affairs spokesperson in 1999; Rudd opposed him for formally denouncing the brutal military occupation in East Timor; apparently because a stable, right-wing Indonesia offers better investment opportunities.
**Which was, at the time, attempting to preserve it's freedom to train, fund and arm a militia group that, among other deeds, murdered 50 unarmed civilians inside a Church before forcing local onlookers to raise the Indonesian flag.
NB: After these important men were done with their PR stunts, there followed further massacres in East Timor, helped by the Howard Government's removal of foreign observers (allowing the Indonesian military and militias to proceed unchecked). Partly due to Rudd's opposition to left-wing Labor policy (and the subsequent splits within the party), there also followed 8 more years of the Howard government, which saw Iraq, Afghanistan, the terror laws and new censorship laws, Workchoices, VSU, et cetera et cetera).