The Australian

Brad Norington, Washington correspondent
July 15, 2010

THE man Kevin Rudd appointed to lobby for a new Asia-Pacific community is still promoting the project in Washington.

Veteran diplomat Richard Woolcott, appointed by Mr Rudd as his envoy two years ago, said yesterday the former prime minister's idea for a new regional group led by Australia was "still in play, and so it should be".

Mr Woolcott said he hoped the government in power after the election would continue with the plan to establish a forum for 18 leaders in the Asia-Pacific to tackle economic, political and security challenges.

Despite Julia Gillard declaring she did not intend big changes in foreign policy, the new Prime Minister flagged one significant shift by casting doubt on Mr Rudd's push for a new Australia-led regional community including the US, China, Japan and possibly Russia.

"I don't get any indication, from things that have been said, there is going to be that degree of movement in the region," Ms Gillard was quoted as saying.

The APC plan, launched by Mr Rudd in June 2008, could be an enduring legacy of his prime ministership if it succeeded. His idea was for the new body to be running by 2020, potentially superseding the role of APEC, which was championed by another former Labor prime minister, Bob Hawke.

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