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December 04th 2012 print

Philippa Martyr

Bob Carr, blind to all but the main chance

Of the attributes that recommend the Foreign Minister as a potential replacement for our increasingly manic Prime Minister, Labor's powerbrokers must rate his demonstrated inability to notice corruption as the most endearing trait of all


John Faulkner has begged the NSW branch of the ALP to clean up its act.

This would be the same NSW where our unelected Foreign Minister Bob Carr was Labor Premier from 1995-2005. I do believe Mr Carr prides himself on being the longest continually serving Premier of NSW, and rightly so, because that’s a considerable stretch in office.


Bob Carr did lots of splendid things in that time, according to his Wikipedia entry (I wonder who keeps it updated?) He held a Royal Commission into corruption in the police force in NSW. But during Bob Carr’s run as Premier, there was no corruption in the NSW Labor Party. We know this because Bob Carr has said so, and if there had been, Bob Carr would have done something about it. Without a doubt. A Royal Commission, perhaps.

Since his retirement as Premier – that would be when he had a voter satisfaction rating of around 35% – Bob Carr has never ceased to be a force for good in Australian political and cultural life. He’s interviewed Gore Vidal, and complained that junk food isn’t labelled with its calorie content; he also wants cheaper books, more national parks, and fewer Australians.

All this is comparatively harmless, and in the normal course of events, Bob Carr would have evolved into one of those fascinating Australian political fringe-dwelling eccentrics, like Prince Leonard of Hutt, or Malcolm Fraser. His self-important pronouncements would have become more demanding, more imperious, and more and more removed from reality.

But then the Gillard government needed to get rid of the increasingly dangerous Kevin Rudd for good, and so Carr was suddenly parachuted back into power, only this time at a federal level, and straight into the cabinet. His time as Foreign Minister has, needless to say, fulfilled all the early promise shown during his career as NSW Premier.

Bob Carr is a smart man; he is well-read, and being a history graduate, he takes a long view of things. He has recently and quite openly defied our unpopular and embattled Prime Minister, who is up to her neck in AWU scandals, unpleasant ex-boyfriends, their equally unpleasant best buddies, missing documents, a shrinking economy, and an election round the corner.

Bob Carr is also a man, and as a man, I suspect he knows deep down that he will be seen as a better choice as – say – a future PM than a volatile, suspect, obviously emotional and now compromised woman. Bob Carr probably also knows that every man in the country who has been called “misogynist” or accused of “sexism” by a female boss or colleague will be desperate for the increasingly strident Gillard to be replaced by someone with, say, a dark suit, and greying temples, and glasses, and a deep voice.

But it’s nice to think that when Bob Carr becomes Prime Minister – as he clearly should; it’s only common sense – there will be no more corruption in the Federal ALP. It will simply vanish, just like it did in NSW. No more faceless men, no more stolen union funds blown on prostitutes, no more awkward questions about witnessing documents from the comfort of another capital city. No Royal Commission will be necessary under a Carr government, because, people, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

Philippa Martyr blogs at Transverse City