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As Bob Carr resigns from the Senate I doubt that anyone is really surprised, nor should they be surprised by his criticism of the largely unlamented Labor administration that parachuted him into the cushy Foreign Minister’s job as a result of Rudd’s tilt at the leadership 18 months ago.
Senator Carr, who will submit his resignation to the president of the Senate tomorrow, said he planned to “reinvent” himself as an expert on Asia in posts with Sydney University and the University of New South Wales.
Reflecting on Labor’s past six years in office, he said the party did “many very, very good things”, but its performance was marred by a lack of caution and political cunning.
“Just reflecting my background, growing up with Neville Wran as premier, and trying to learn from him, I’m struck by a lack of canniness in the (former) government,” he said.
“A lack of caution, cunning – canniness is probably the best word.”
Senator Carr said the Wran playbook would have ruled out picking a fight with the media before an election, as Labor did with its proposed media reforms.
Labor should have been “friends with everyone” a year out from the poll, “cooling” controversy, not creating it.
“I thought a certain political direction had been cast out that window at that moment,” Senator Carr said.
“In the end I was just thinking about the viability of Australia’s social democratic party.
“If people in Queensland and NSW get accustomed to voting Labor at a rate of 25 per cent, in a state election and a federal election, how do you recover? That was the thought uppermost in my mind.”
He said the government’s lack of “canniness” was also evident in Labor’s approach to tackling climate change, where it should have proceeded with more caution.
He said Labor should have replicated, in its first years of the government, a scheme he introduced as premier in NSW, which only applied to the power sector. The scheme could have been ramped up down the track, he said.
“It would have been a canny approach,” Senator Carr said.
Labor took the same imprudent approach in dismantling John Howard’s Pacific Solution, “without weighing – carefully, cannily – what effect that might have on people-smuggling”.
He said Labor must retain its support for processing on Manus Island and Nauru, despite internal tensions on the policy.
“It is the right policy and it is a policy the Australian people will accept,” Senator Carr said.
“There may be a temptation from time to time to criticise the Abbott government from what might be described as the Left, on this issue. It is a temptation best resisted.”
Isn’t it interesting that yet another leading light (but not light weight 😉 ) of the Labor party is now so willing to pour a bucket upon the Gillard and Rudd leaderships . dare I suggest that, having one person disillusioned with the party may possibly be some problem with them but once you get a chorus of dismay from several then it is indicative of a party in serious political trouble. Sadly although the party dearly needs thinkers like Bob Carr , men and women who not only have their heads around the policy ideas that the party believes in but also just a touch of street smarts to enable them to calculate the best way of making such things both happen and more importantly be accepted by the people.
So now we have two former cabinet ministers being brutally honest about Labor’s last stint in government so I can’t help but wonder if such criticism will continue to be valid under the Shorten leadership and surely if it does then how can the Australian Labor party ever be fit to rule again?
the headline piece in today’s Age is worthy of note because it makes me wonder if we got value for the more than four grand a day that Bob Carr cost the taxpayers during his time as foreign minister:
So was he really worth more than a grand extra a day over Stephen Smith or Kevin Rudd?
Cheers again Comrades
- Bob Carr to quit Senate (smh.com.au)
- Bob Carr to announce his resignation (theage.com.au)
- Carr assesses Rudd-Gillard Labor era (news.theage.com.au)
- Profile: Bob Carr (abc.net.au)
- Chariot ride over, Carr bids farewell (theage.com.au)
- Carr resigns from the Senate (adelaidenow.com.au)
- Bob Carr’s reputation up in smoke (smh.com.au)
- Bob Carr’s $4200-a-day habit (smh.com.au)