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Bob Carr's Diary takes aim at Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd for mistakes

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Bob Carr's diary lashes Gillard and Rudd

Bob Carr reveals Kevin Rudd's reputation for explosive outbursts among the world's foreign policy elite in his Diary of a Foreign Minister. Nine News.

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Bob Carr has detailed Kevin Rudd’s reputation for explosive outbursts among the world’s foreign policy elite and the widespread dislike of him in the Labor Party, in an extraordinary inside account of his time as foreign minister in a crumbling Labor government.

Mr Carr’s Diary of a Foreign Minister also reveals how he told Mr Rudd’s prime ministerial rival, Julia Gillard, to step down from the leadership to save her own reputation.

Former foreign minister Senator Bob Carr and former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

Former foreign minister Senator Bob Carr and former prime minister Kevin Rudd. Photo: Andrew Meares

“The motivation can only be a deeply ingrained detestation of Rudd,” Mr Carr writes of her refusal to do so. “At once understandable … and unworthy.”

A rich and rare account of his 18 months as foreign minister in 2012-13, Mr Carr’s Diary records the work behind diplomatic triumphs, the high level discussions with global figures, and frank observations on Labor’s internal ructions.

The former NSW Premier and Labor elder also:

Former prime minister Julia Gillard with former foreign minister Bob Carr in April 2013.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard with former foreign minister Bob Carr in April 2013. Photo: Andrew Meares

  • Reveals how he rolled Ms Gillard on a UN vote on Palestinian recognition, publishing private text messages between himself and the former prime minister to reveal the “extraordinary” level of influence the pro-Israel lobby had on her office.
  • Details his early call for Labor to match Tony Abbott's border protection policies, and a last ditch - and unsuccessful - bid to get Indonesia to accept failed Iranian asylum seekers, who would have been flown back to Jakarta by Australia.
  • Reflects on the rise of China, and mis-steps by the US and its allies in handling its emergence.
  • Regales readers with his exercise and diet habits; his dinners and retreats with Henry Kissinger; as well as his gripes about business class travel and the lack of subtitling of an inflight telecast of a Wagnerian opera.

Throughout Mr Carr’s encounters as a foreign minister, the subject of Mr Rudd, and Mr Rudd’s possible return to the top job, regularly surfaces, including when he catches up with China’s foreign minister Wang Yi.

China's senior envoy observes: “You know, in China … some people love him ...and some people … hate him!”

Mr Carr writes: “I told him I understood that to be true.”

The Commonwealth’s assistant general secretary Stephen Cutts tells Mr Carr how Mr Rudd “savaged” him.

The Japanese recall his belligerent language on whaling while Singapore’s foreign minister recounts how he was “lectured” by Mr Rudd over East Timor’s entry into the ASEAN group of countries.

Mr Carr also details a conversation where Julia Gillard tells him of Mr Rudd’s hitherto secret Israel-Palestine peace plan drafted in the wake of the Arab Spring uprising.

“As foreign minister, Kevin had kept going to Israel, driving [Israel’s leader Benyamin] Netanyahu mad promoting a batty peace plan and promising to commit Australian troops to patrolling borders.

“I quickly agree this was nuts.”

Mr Carr writes vividly of when Mr Rudd pops into his parliamentary office in October 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.” [Mr Carr’s italics]

Nevertheless, Mr Carr eventually backed Mr Rudd’s return, seeing it as the only way to avoid an election obliteration.

When then treasurer Wayne Swan is canvassing support for Ms Gillard on June 11 last year, 15 days before Ms Gillard was vanquished, Mr Carr tells him: “Just let Rudd take over.”

Mr Swan’s response, Mr Carr recalls, is “it would be handing the party over to a madman”.

“‘Forget that,’ I said. ‘The party should be left in some condition to fight back at the election after this’.”

By June 19, Sam Dastyari is telling Mr Carr that Bill Shorten has switched to the Rudd camp. Mr Shorten, now opposition leader, publicly declared support for Ms Gillard right up until hours before she got knifed.

On June 26, Mr Carr talks direct to Ms Gillard. “What I say is unrehearsed and untested and has not been sought by anyone in the Rudd camp,” he writes.

“I say ‘I’m happy to accept everything you want to say about Kevin ... but let’s talk about it from your perspective ... you want to face the Sunday after the election like Kristina Keneally or Anna Bligh?....

“On the other hand you can give a speech today that will produce a surge of goodwill … you could be sitting in your former prime minister’s office in a few months taking calls offering you a job of vice chancellor or chancellor, positions on boards … you’d get a phone call from the UN given the positive impact you made with your speech of last year."

Ms Gillard replies she cannot go because the leadership battle has nothing to with policy or party principle. That afternoon, she was toppled by Mr Rudd.

There is praise from Mr Carr for the new prime minister.

Mr Rudd's PNG Solution asylum seeker policy was a “masterstroke” and Mr Rudd's command of those first cabinet meetings described as impressive.

At one point, as the early poll numbers come in, Sam Dastyari rings to say he believes Mr Rudd can win.

But Mr Rudd is a “tone-deaf campaigner”. The rushed, two-page policy to offer low tax rates to investors in the Northern Territory was a shambles.

Mr Carr observes witheringly: “Is this the best 18 months' reflection on the backbench could produce?”

Less than a fortnight before Mr Rudd’s loss in the election, the two men meet in Canberra, drink tea and acknowledge Labor has no hope of being returned.

Mr Rudd laments on how so few hold power in Australia.

“[Mr Rudd] reflects on how few people run the country: the Murdoch media, the heads of Rio and BHP, probably the heads of the big banks, and ‘that mob’, by which he means the hard-line… pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne.”

Mr Carr calls it Mr Rudd’s Richard II moment: ‘‘Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the deaths of kings.’'

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160 comments

  • You thought after WA, Labor could not sink further. Bob Carr figured otherwise.

    Commenter
    Hacka
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    April 10, 2014, 7:10AM
    • @Hacka - Wait until the Royal Commission is over. The Labor party will be finished and history will hold Bill Shorten to account. After all Rudd and Gillard were merely his mouthpieces.

      Commenter
      Bang Bang
      Date and time
      April 10, 2014, 7:47AM
    • Hacka says -
      Windmill - jolly good - but how do you then make the leap from boats to a 12 year old war on the other side of the world ?

      Hacka

      Because the war is still going after 12 years. It is not old and over for the people of Iraq. If your Iraq policy is so wonderful, I’m sure you won’t mind taking your next holiday in Falluja. I hear apartments are very cheap to rent, but the flack jackets cost a small fortune.

      If you want to attack the ALP over deaths of foreigners on their watch then you will have to defend the ongoing deaths of foreigners as a result of LNP policies.

      Government policies do not stop having consequences the moment there is a change of government.

      e.g. The trade agreement with Japan will continue to have consequences long after Abbott leaves the job of PM.

      The reckless and grossly immoral invasion of Iraq that you support is still having bloody consequences because your policy destabilised Iraq and the region around it. The effects of the LNP invasion of Iraq did not stop when Howard left Kirribilli House. Innocent people are still dying and will continue to die for years to come. Iraq is a blasted and bloodied country, far worse than it was before your mob invaded.

      It was Hacka, who lectured us about how you learnt about taking responsibilities for your actions when you were at school.

      The LNP you cheer for are directly culpable for the carnage in Iraq. If you are so good at stopping things, then stop the carnage that you started.

      Howard's big lie has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Gillard’s big lie put up your power bill a bit.

      Commenter
      Windmill
      Date and time
      April 10, 2014, 7:51AM
    • Carr is an egomaniac but his book will definitely make for interesting reading. This is embarrassing for the party but is unlikely to bring any long term damage given Rudd, Gillard and Carr are all gone. Regardless, what a dysfunctional mob Labor were in Government.

      Commenter
      Flanders
      Date and time
      April 10, 2014, 7:55AM
    • I blame them for giving us the LNP headed by Tony Abbott, something I will never forgive either of them for. Don't worry George no need to spy on me, you can read my views in the Herald. I note the Green vote in WA rose more than Labor fell, I would also note Labor fell less than LNP, interesting.

      Commenter
      Bruce
      Date and time
      April 10, 2014, 7:55AM
    • Windmill, the Howard Govt (quite rightly) relied on US intelligence in justifying the war in Iraq...the fact that much of that intelligence has now ben proven to be false doesn't make Howard guilty of war crimes etc....something that the loony left like to ramble on about.

      Your selective memory ALSO conveniently forgets to mention that our involvement in Iraq had bipartisan support, so the ALP fully supported our role in this conflict.....what part of that fact are you struggling to come to terms with?

      Perhaps you'd be happier if the murderous dictator Saddam Hussein was still in power??? Good luck with that.......try harder next time when trying to construct an argument

      Commenter
      MTK
      Location
      Port Melbourne
      Date and time
      April 10, 2014, 8:05AM
    • This "stuff" happened before the WA election, and we all know how low the Lib/Lab grosser parties really are, thanks

      Commenter
      Christopher
      Location
      Watershipdownunder
      Date and time
      April 10, 2014, 8:20AM
    • Hacka...you have to remember that all this is coming from a man that said the best way to govern is to do 'nothing'.

      So to do anything in gov is a 'negative' from his perspective.......

      Commenter
      Allesandro
      Date and time
      April 10, 2014, 8:35AM
    • Carr is not the sort of person you'd want to have in your corner in a fight, is he? He's nothing but a self serving traitor. I wish Rudd would write a book...now, he'd have some grisly tales to tell.

      Commenter
      EBAB
      Location
      St Lucia
      Date and time
      April 10, 2014, 8:47AM
    • I don't ever write Labor off but they are in perilous territory and don't seem to be doing much about it. Bob Carr can carry on about the influence of the Melbourne Jewish establishment all he likes; it's Labor's ridiculous flirtations with the Green-Left that has eroded their confidence and authority. If Labor abandon the centre chasing the approval of inner-city hipsters, journalists, activists and academics then they WILL be finished. Step One in Labor's rehabilitation: they vote to repeal the utterly pointless carbon tax that they so arrogantly imposed on the working people they claim to represent.

      Commenter
      Molotov
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      April 10, 2014, 9:20AM

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