There’s been a few more big claims from Bob Carr’s upcoming political memoir Diary of a Foreign Minister, reported by various media outlets.
The book will be released this week, and is peppered full of interesting anecdotes from Carr’s time in Cabinet.
Some of the excerpts revealed yesterday were pretty comical, including complaints on the perils of business class travel, and the lack of English subtitles in a Wagner opera on a flight.
Some of this is an attempt at self-deprecation – the trouble is, it might not come across as intended to a lot of people.
The Pro-Israel Lobby
Carr told the ABC’s 7.30 program the “pro-Israel” lobby in Melbourne wielded a concerning amount of influence over former prime minister Julia Gillard during his time in Cabinet, claims he detailed in his book.
“I found it very frustrating that we couldn’t issue, for example, a routine expression of concern about the spread of Israeli settlements on the West Bank – great blocks of housing for Israeli citizens going up on land that everyone regards as part of the future Palestinian state if there is to be a two-state solution,” he said.
“The important point about a diary of a foreign minister is you shine light on areas of government that are otherwise in darkness, and the influence of lobby groups is one of those areas.
“What I’ve done is to spell out how the extremely conservative instincts of the pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne was exercised through the then-prime minister’s office.”
What Everyone Thought Of Kevin Rudd
Carr has described a “deeply ingrained detestation of Rudd” as the only reason Gillard refused to step down, on his advice, to save her reputation.
He also recounts something China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said of Rudd, who can speak Mandarin and is an expert on the country — Australia’s biggest trading partner.
“You know, in China … some people love him …and some people … hate him!” Yi said, according to the book.
Carr writes: “I told him I understood that to be true.”
There’s also a very vidid description of a visit Rudd made to Carr’s office in 2012.
“And then a visitor arrives in my office with the air of a conspiring cardinal on coasters, sniffing out useful heresy: our beloved former prime minister Kevin Rudd, purse-lipped, choirboy hair, speaking in that sinister monotone. A chilling monotone.”
Carr does praise Rudd for his asylum seeker policies, though is also strongly critical of a plan unveiled during the election campaign to offer lower tax rates to investors in the NT.
“Is this the best 18 months’ reflection on the backbench could produce?”
Carr reveals the reason he switched sides and supported Rudd when he rolled Gillard was contentious media law proposals that caused outrage from several sectors of the Australian media.
“The media package, and how it was adopted, has destroyed any confidence I could have in her office and instincts,” Carr writes, three months before Gillard was replaced by Rudd in June last year.
“They had been dumped on the cabinet meeting — without warning — and adopted.
“We are committed to a wholesale war with the newspapers. In that pre-election phase when we should be friends with all.”
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