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Thomas Rudd, who was convicted of stealing a bag of sugar, arrived in NSW on board the Earl Cornwallis in 1801.

Rudd studied at the Australian National University in Canberra, where he resided at Burgmann College and graduated with Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) with First-Class Honours.

His paternal fourth great-grandparents were English and of convict heritage: Thomas Rudd and Mary Cable.

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He majored in Chinese language and Chinese history, became proficient in Mandarin.

His Chinese name is Lù Kèwén (simplified Chinese: In 1980 he continued his Chinese studies at the Mandarin Training Center of National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, Taiwan.

Having previously served as a diplomat, and then as an official for the Queensland Government, Rudd was initially elected to the House of Representatives for Griffith in 1998.

He was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet in 2001 as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

In response to the global financial crisis, the government provided economic stimulus packages, and Australia was one of the few developed countries to avoid the late-2000s recession.