Just when you thought Labor couldn’t get any lower, you remember Bob Carr exists.
He’s a worthy addition to the Gillard cabinet, where he’ll fit right in with all the other neoliberal scumbags.
It’s not surprising that Carr’s elevation is the only part of Gillard’s new cabinet to be deemed newsworthy. The rest of the interchangeable nobodies of the “left” and right, elevated or demoted according to their loyalty in the recent leadership contest, can’t even arouse the interest of the media, let alone the mass of Australian workers.
None of the media even thought fit to notice the hypocrisy of the appointment of this former consultant to that “millionaire factory”, Macquarie Bank, on the same day as Treasurer Wayne Swan’s populist attack on the mega-rich was published in The Monthly. The revolving door between the corporate world and the big political parties operates to deposit politicians into corporate board rooms, and vice versa. Today Bob Carr just completed the circuit.
But none of this made the headlines. All the focus was on whether this appointment would save Labor’s election chances. Bob Carr no doubt thinks so. In his blog of 27 February he came up with this gem: “And there is an obligation on the National Secretariat to start the training, the coaching, the mentoring and the management of talent which is needed to lift the skills level of the next Labor generation.”
Like the rest of the Labor government, Carr cannot admit that the problem is not lack of mentoring, but what Labor actually does in office. In fact, with his record as NSW premier, he’s even less likely to want to go there.
From Labor’s return to government in NSW under Carr in April 1995, they went out of their way to be the party of conservative financial management, encouraging market forces, and being “tough on crime” (where “crime” was a synonym for “Lebanese”). Always with an eye to the national stage, in 2001 Carr entered into an unholy alliance with Liberal Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock to draft screening measures to weed out prospective immigrants with military training. It was an easy way of further demonising refugees and others fleeing from regimes like Saddam Hussain’s Iraq, with its three years of compulsory military training. The effect of Carr’s “tough stand” was an increase in racism directed towards Arabs and Muslims in Sydney.
They weren’t his only targets. When tens of thousands of anti-globalisation protesters blockaded the World Economic Forum meeting in Melbourne in September 2000, Carr denounced them as “fascists” who “deserved everything they got” from the cops.
In its first year Carr’s government cut the welfare, education, health and transport budgets. Private contracts poured billions into the coffers of the tollway builders – with guarantees that no extra public transport would be allowed to compete with the roads. In 2000, his government massively cut workers’ compensation payouts. Macquarie Bank’s profits rose enormously during his premiership.
And his efforts did not go unrewarded. Just two months after he resigned from parliament in 2005, Carr became Macquarie Bank’s registered political lobbyist in the NSW and federal parliaments.
Since leaving parliament, Carr has kept up his rabid hatred of anything left wing, attacking the Marrickville Greens councillors’ stance in support of the BDS campaign against Israeli apartheid. Predictably, the protests against Gillard and Abbott at the 40-year anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy raised his ire. The following day he thundered as only a pompous racist can: “I agree with Tony Abbott and think his remarks entirely sensible. The tent embassy in Canberra says nothing to anyone and should have been quietly packed up years ago.”