It ain’t Peter Sellers behind the wheel of Foreign Affairs
Back in early June deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop was pumping up the troops at a Coalition meeting by portraying Foreign Minister Bob Carr as the Government clown.
Ms Bishop, shadow foreign affairs minister, likened him to the character played by Peter Sellers in “The Party”, a 1968 film about an actor who bumbles and stumbles around a social event.
So like Carr, Ms Bishop said. She saw him as an accidental arrival in foreign affairs, who doesn’t know his way around the place, and keeps putting a less-than-diplomatic foot into affairs best left to the professionals.
What a buffoon. And the Liberal and National MPs laughed along with her.
But then someone changed the script and it seemed the joke was very much on Julia Bishop.
The bungling clown was a patient and diligent overseer of negotiations to free Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor and three others from Libyan captors.
Early this month Senator Bob Carr (as he is referred to in the Chamber to prevent the unlikely event of confusion with Victorian lefty Kim Carr) was able to announce she had been released and was returning to husband and child. How about that for a pratfall?
Then late last week the Foreign Minister broke the news that South Korea had bowed to appeals from countries such as Australia and had abandoned plans for “scientific” whaling. He was, it seems, the first to be told by a South Korean government minister.
How’s that for a pie in the face?
Meanwhile, Bob Carr has been travelling the globe for less-heralded meetings at which it seems he has been representing Australia’s interests with skill and enthusiasm.
Senator Bob Carr no doubt knows he is in the diplomatic game for maybe another 14 months after which he will be a member of the Labor Opposition.
But that doesn’t mean he is taking the job as if it were some sort of internship or hobby and not a serious pursuit.
And Senator Carr is determined that foreign affairs will not become a Government policy spot vulnerable to Opposition attacks. Little has been heard from Julie Bishop on him since her Peter Sellers gibe.
He also is aware of the sensitivity of the portfolio within the Government. Remember, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said she wasn’t hugely interested in foreign affairs, while former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd loved the job. And is still doing it to a significant degree.
Bob Carr, if he is to do his bit, has to stay out of any Gillard-Rudd warfare, and he has to allow Mr Rudd to continue to be involved in foreign affairs without allowing him to take over the shop. It’s a delicate line to be trod.
Senator Carr this weekend was in Indonesia for the first time as Foreign Minister, a relatively low-key visit which for him had the advantages of making contacts with our important neighbor, and of allowing him to miss the NSW Labor Party Conference in Sydney.
“I praised the people who run this public health centre,” said Senator Carr at a Yogyakarta project assisted by AusAid.
Bob Carr speaks in such tones – almost theatrical declamations—whether he is congratulating drug treatment workers as he was there, or calling on Russia to stop supporting the Syrian regime.
But contrary to Julie Bishop’s casting, he is more Richard Burton than Peter Sellers.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…