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Challenges for Real Bob Carr

By Julie Bishop - posted Thursday, 8 March 2012


Whether Bob Carr proves to be a successful Minister for Foreign Affairs only time will tell.

I wish him well because our national interest is best served when Australia has an effective Minister for Foreign Affairs acting in close concert with the Prime Minister.

As former Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said, there cannot be a “crack of light” between aMinister for Foreign Affairs and a Prime Minister.

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Bob Carr will not only need to bridge the yawning chasm that opened up between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd and their respective offices, but he will alsoface a number of major and immediate challenges.

In trying to reconcile his blogging “baggage” with Labor’s formal foreign policy, Mr Carr should resist the temptation to emulate the Hawker Britton style of political spin and distraction that he mastered during his time as NSW Premier.

Already Mr Carr has sought to airbrush from history a number of his now rather inconvenient views.

His description of the Dalai Lama as a “cunning monk”, and his warning that Australian politicians should not be intimidated into meeting “this theological politician” on his “too frequent visits”, have been removed from his website.

Mr Carr has also implored us to ignore his strident criticism of the Libyan intervention, considered by Prime Minister Gillard and former Foreign Minister Rudd to be among their finer foreign policy moments.

His opinion that it was a “wrong headed amateur-hour intervention” of “towering stupidity” is now replaced by an admission that he was “completely wrong”.

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Regrettably it seems that we can expect Mr Carr to continue to seek to minimise the embarrassment his actual views will cause Julia Gillard, by adopting the “confession and avoidance” trick – straight from the NSW Labor playbook.

For starters, his opposition to Australia’s ongoing commitment to Afghanistan which he believed has “resolved nothing” , his description of President Obama’s speech to the Parliament last year as “strange” and “inappropriate”, and his views on Iran, will undoubtedly be removed from the record.

After getting his own house in order to align his views with those of the Labor Government, the new Foreign Minister will need to repair the damage the Prime Minister has inflicted on Australia's relationship with Indonesia.

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Julie Bishop is the Federal Member for Curtin, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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