Bob Carr has likened business-class air travel to slavery but insists he isn’t a snob.
In his Diary of a Foreign Minister, Mr Carr complains about not being given pyjamas on a business-class flight and has compared business seats to the “trans-Atlantic slave trade”.
But he’s told reporters at his book launch in Sydney on Thursday that it’s not snobbery, “just a view that life is a learning experience”.
The former NSW premier, who was handed the foreign affairs portfolio in 2012 despite not being elected, insists his picky wishes were only aimed at improving his performance as minister.
“If you did the travel I did and you had to get off after a 14-hour flight to meet a world leader, you’d know that there was some advantage in snatching a little sleep,” Mr Carr said.
“I’ve got to be honest with you, if you get a little sleep, you perform better.”
Mr Carr’s preference for the finer things has seen him ridiculed in the media, with a Sydney newspaper splashing the headline “FIRST CLASS TOSSER” across its front page.
The former Labor luminary has also been ridiculed for saying in his book that he had more energy than “16 gladiators”.
“You’re not going to get into any position of leadership if you’re a shy person,” he said in defence of those comments.
“Wouldn’t you want someone to present a case for Australia in the UN and in all those demanding meetings at the UN who feels he has got the strength of 16 gladiators?”
Mr Carr even evoked his “working class” upbringing to show he wasn’t really a snob.
“I grew up in a fibro cottage in the sandhills of Maroubra,” he said.
“But I’ve never ceased, because of the kick-start my good mum and dad gave me, to engage in a process of lifelong education.”
Mr Carr – a keen exerciser and dieter – said he often had to have two main courses of dinner at official functions to meet his protein requirements.
The diaries have 22 index entries under diet and 36 under exercise. “I did two hours of Pilates, then to Double Bay for my third meditation lesson; then to the office to read cables; to the gym …” Mr Carr wrote.
His ambition he writes in Cairo, is to “have a concave abdomen defined by deep-cut obliques.”
He also writes that he “cannot feel humble” after attending a G20 leaders meeting with US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin in his last act in the job last September.
“Interested, curious, of course. Just not humble,” he writes in Diary of a Foreign Minister.
—with Staff Reporters