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Australian PM Kevin Rudd talks to Reddit about dropbears and gay marriage

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Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, hoping to hold on to his seat in Australia's September election, came to a Reddit AMA Thursday. He's believed to be the first sitting head of state to run through Reddit's gauntlet of questions since U.S. President Barack Obama did so in 2012.

It's the latest Internet entertainment to come from Australia's 2013 election cycle, joining the candidate for Parliament who insisted Islam was a country to Julian Assange lip-synching with a mullet to promote his WikiLeaks party.

Unsurprisingly, Rudd, running with the Labour Party, didn't touch the highest-rated question of policy: his stance on the U.S. National Security Agency's Internet surveillance programs. (Australia's counterpart, the Defence Signals Directorate, often partners with the NSA.) Instead, he touted his positions that would play well with redditors, like his support of gay marriage and climate control, and how much he loves his late cat.

When will you be seriously looking at drug law reforms? The war on drugs is an utter failure and a waste of taxpayer money. (robdotcom71)

Australia has been a world leader for many years in pursuing a harm minimisation approach to illicit drugs and their use, especially amongst young people. We believe this is the best way to tackle this issue.

We have a National Drug Strategy here in Australia that is based on harm minimisation, rather than a 'war on drugs' as you'd see in some other places around the world.

When we talk about harm minimisation we’re talking about three key pillars: reducing demand for illicit and harmful drugs, reducing supply, and effectively and non-judgementally treating those who suffer the health effects of drugs and drug addiction.

Labor is committed to that approach, but we do need to continue to work with young people and experts especially, to make sure we're communicating effectively and minimising drug related harm. We're providing more than $600m over four years in health funding to tackle illicit drug use and provide effective early intervention and treatment. 

Mr Rudd, why a conscience vote for marriage equality, if you get elected surely you have a mandate to implement it? (danzk)

My personal belief is that the time for marriage equality has come.

I've also said that within 100 days of the government being re-elected, Parliament would consider legislation. The way to get such legislation passed is for Mr Abbott to allow a conscience vote for his party just like we allow for ours. In any debate on these sorts of questions, the Australia of the 21st century should not tolerate any element of homophobia. KRudd

How fast can you down a pint? (Ooer)

Still not as fast as [Former labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke] Hawkie.

I have been quite shocked by the Murdoch press' treatment of Labor - and by how they have misused their power as a giant part of the press landscape.

If you are returned to Government, are there any policy directions that you think may be worth pursuing to stop this type of behaviour, and help prevent the rise of a "Fox News" situation in Australia? thoughtpod

Australia has freedom of the press. The truth is Mr Murdoch owns 70% of the print media in Australia. This includes the Courier-Mail, The Sunday Mail in Brisbane (which is a one newspaper town); The Adelaide Advertiser and the Sunday Times in Adelaide (which is also a one newspaper town); the Hobart Mercury; The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph in Sydney, and the Herald-Sun and Sunday Herald-Sun in Melbourne.

Mr Murdoch has made plain he wants to see Mr Abbott installed as Prime Minister.

Mr Murdoch's views are also reflected virtually every day on the front pages of the above newspapers. The Australian people will decide whether they think this is fair and balanced reporting. It's worth having a look at Media Watch and in the meantime that's why it is so important for all you guys out there in the social media space to express your own views and opinions on what's important to you in this election campaign. 

Rudd dog.

What's the deal with the media outlets jumping in bed with the opposition and the amount of smeary ads they have put out about you?

Love your work and the NBN so keep it up, i have a need for speed and Australia as whole has a need for infrastructure. (j3za)

Back at ya j3za dog...

The media have their view - it's been out there, and people will I think see it for what it is.

As for the NBN, that's a crucial issue for Australia, our economy, tapping the potential of our creative people, and for, of course, all people on Reddit who also like gaming, videos and so on. If you haven't already seen it, take a look atAbbottsInternet.com.au.

KRudd dog

As an American, I would like to know what is your favorite thing about Australia?? I would love to visit some time it looks awesome (Matt_KB)

Dropbears. Dropwombats.

What is your policy on more funding for mental health services? (zach_75)

We’ve taken this area very seriously. We invested in “headspace” centres where young people can get help. It’s vital because mental health issues affect one in every four young Australians in any given year.

I was going to announce this in the next couple of days, but since you’ve asked I’ll tell you now. 

If we’re re-elected, a government I lead will put in a $34 million investment to open another 10 headspace centres so that we have 100 across the country. We’ll also be expanding e-headspace so people can get access to advice online too. That’s an important investment – money we want to put in so that we have services that can help.

Headspace centres are working – 90% of young people who have used the service reported mental health improvements – and with this expansion, we’d be able to help 80,000 young people every year.

Illustration by donkeyhotey/Flickr