Bob Carr has launched an extraordinary account of his brief time as Australia’s foreign minister during the troubled Rudd/Gillard years.
In Diary of a Foreign Minister Bob Carr has hit out at what he calls the “pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne”, saying it wielded “extraordinary influence” on Australia’s policy during his time in Julia Gillard’s cabinet.
Speaking to ABC’s 7.30 program, Mr Carr said “extreme right wing” lobbyists had an “unhealthy” influence on Australia’s policy towards Israel and the Occupied Territories.
“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,” he said.
The head of the Australia-Israel and Jewish Affairs Council has rejected the claims as a “figment of his imagination”, saying Ms Gillard is an “independent-thinking woman” capable of reaching her own conclusions.
The gossipy, colourful account of his 18 months as foreign minister has been dubbed ‘Bridget Carr’s Diary.’
In Diary of a Foreign Minister Mr Carr complains about inedible food and a lack of pajamas in business class – saying he was ‘forced to lie in his suit.’
He said the compact black-back seats were like the “trans-Atlantic slave trade”.
He wrote to an airline boss about the lack of subtitles on an Opera film in first class (“Specifically, I have taken note of the lack of English subtitles for the Wagner opera Siegfried,’’) and even lamented getting an upgrade to first because he could only book business as “a middle-power foreign minister”.
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.
The former NSW Premier writes elegantly – but scathingly of Kevin Rudd.
“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.”
However, Mr Carr eventually backed Mr Rudd’s return, seeing it as the only way to avoid an election defeat.
The diaries revealed how he urged Julia Gillard, to step down from the leadership to save her own reputation.
China’s foreign minister Wang Yi observes: “You know, in China … some people love him (Rudd) …and some people … hate him!”
Mr Carr writes: “I told him I understood that to be true.”