||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (April 2014)|
|Senator for New South Wales|
6 March 2012 – 24 October 2013
|Preceded by||Mark Arbib|
|Succeeded by||Deborah O'Neill|
|Minister for Foreign Affairs|
13 March 2012 – 18 September 2013
|Prime Minister||Julia Gillard
|Preceded by||Craig Emerson|
|Succeeded by||Julie Bishop|
|39th Premier of New South Wales
Elections: 1995, 1999, 2003
4 April 1995 – 3 August 2005
|Preceded by||John Fahey|
|Succeeded by||Morris Iemma|
|Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales|
11 April 1988 – 4 April 1995
|Preceded by||Nick Greiner|
|Succeeded by||Peter Collins|
|Member of the New South Wales Parliament
22 October 1983 – 3 August 2005
|Preceded by||Bill Haigh|
|Succeeded by||Michael Daley|
|Born||Robert John Carr
28 September 1947
Matraville, Sydney, Australia
|Political party||Labor Party|
|Alma mater||University of New South Wales|
Robert John "Bob" Carr (born 28 September 1947) is a former politician from Australia. A member of the Labor Party, he served in the government of Australia as Minister for Foreign Affairs from March 2012 to September 2013, while also serving in the Australian Senate as a Senator for New South Wales. From 4 April 1995 to 3 August 2005, Carr was the Premier of New South Wales. He was the longest continuously serving Premier of the state (only Sir Henry Parkes served longer, although Parkes held the office on five separate occasions).
- 1 Early life and career
- 2 New South Wales state politics (1983–2005)
- 3 After state politics (2006–12)
- 4 Federal politics (2012–2013)
- 5 Literature
- 6 Awards
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Early life and career
Carr was born in the suburb of Matraville in Sydney, to Edward and Phyllis Carr. He was educated at Matraville High School from which he graduated as dux in 1964. He was the first person in his family to finish high school, and became interested in a career in politics in his teenage years.
While still a 15-year-old student at school, Carr joined the local branch of the Australian Labor Party. He would go on to become the President of the New South Wales branch and then the national President of Young Labor in 1970 and 1972 respectively. He completed his tertiary education at the University of New South Wales, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in History.
After graduation, Carr worked as a journalist for the ABC Radio's AM and PM current affair programs from 1969 to 1971. He was also a reporter on industrial relations and politics for The Bulletin magazine from 1978 to 1983. He later recalled that his work as a journalist provided good preparation for his political career. He also spent a period working as an education officer for the Labor Council of New South Wales (1972–78).
In 1972, Carr met a Malaysian economics student, Helena John on a holiday in Tahiti, and they married on 24 February 1973. Helena Carr became a successful businesswoman; while she provided strong personal support, Helena largely remained out of the political spotlight during her husband's career.
New South Wales state politics (1983–2005)
Carr entered the New South Wales Legislative Assembly at a by-election in October 1983 as the member for Maroubra, representing the Australian Labor Party. In December 1984 he was appointed Minister for Planning and the Environment in the Neville Wran government. In February 1986 he also took on the Consumer Affairs portfolio, which he held until he became Minister for Heritage in July 1986 when Barrie Unsworth became premier.
Leader of the opposition (1988–1995)
The Unsworth Labor government was defeated in a landslide in March 1988, in the context of a 'time for a change' sentiment after 12 years of Labor. Carr was interested in international relations, and his long-term ambition was to enter federal politics and become Minister for Foreign Affairs. However, following the election Carr was pressured by his own Right faction to stand for the leadership. Further, the party organisation did not want Laurie Brereton as leader; he would go on to represent the federal seat of Kingsford Smith, which Carr viewed as his path to federal politics. Thus Carr reluctantly agreed to become Leader of the Opposition. His diary entries from the time reveal his thoughts.
I spent today like a doomed man, taking phone calls and drafting a statement, still saying to the press I wasn't shifting. I feel a jolt in my stomach about what I'm getting myself in for. I will destroy my career in four years. Everything's altered. It's my fate ... So, for better or for worse, I become leader of the party next week.
Despite his misgivings, Carr's performance as Opposition Leader gained approval in the party. Polling in the lead-up to the 1991 election predicted another heavy defeat. However, Labor regained all but one of the seats lost at the previous election. As a result, while the Coalition won 52 percent of the two-party vote, Labor scored a 10-seat swing and came up only four seats short of making Carr Premier. Greiner was forced into a minority government with the support of independents.
In 1992 Greiner resigned following adverse findings against him from the Independent Commission Against Corruption. John Fahey replaced him as premier, but was hampered by his need to negotiate with independents. Labor won the 1995 election with a majority of one seat, elevating Carr to the office of Premier of New South Wales.
Premier of New South Wales (1995–2005)
His centrist, cautious government was characterised by conservative financial management and the encouragement of market forces, and a "tough on crime" policy. It was also seen as having a strong pro-environment character and being committed to curriculum rigour (especially history), testing and literacy initiatives in schools. Carr ventured into national policy issues, particularly issues concerning the environment, population growth, embryonic stem cell research, federal–state relations and support for a minimalist model of an Australian Republic. In terms of economic management, Carr's government, assisted by State Treasurers Michael Egan and Andrew Refshauge, delivered ten consecutive budget surpluses. As evidence of Carr's popularity, he won large majorities even as the Coalition held most of New South Wales' seats at the federal level.
Nature conservation was a high priority for the Government and for Carr personally. Carr moved quickly to ban canal estates because of their impact on river systems, and implemented an election pledge to prevent logging in parts of southeastern NSW by creating the South East Forest National Park along NSW's coastal range from Batemans Bay to the Victorian border.
Carr’s election policies had also included commitments to protect 90,000 hectares of old-growth forest and wilderness areas through a string of new national parks. The promise was exceeded with gazettal of 120,000 hectares between 1995 and 2005. Carr argued that the protection of these lands had “saved the magnificent Myamba Gorge, the upper Towamba River and the ancient towering forests of the Coolangubra and Tantawangalo, crammed with their gliders, bandicoots and owls”. The initiative was supported by a six million dollar forestry restructuring package to build a modern mill and provide a 20 year guarantee of alternative timber.
Following the 1999 state election, Carr declared 100 new national parks between Nowra and the Bega Valley. Before leaving office Carr stopped logging in the Brigalow belt, in the Pilliga region north of Coonabarabran. This intervention saved “semi-arid woodland of ironbark and Cypress pine, its Malleefowl and Barking Owl, and provid[ed] the chance to recharge the reserves of the Great Artesian Basin”.
Negotiations to restructure the mills in the Brigalow Belt were painstaking but successful. Carr claimed in 2009 that “rural towns did not ‘die’ as a result of these conservation measures. The old timber towns now boast communities with a strong economic base, world-class national parks on their doorstep and thriving nature-based tourism”.
In its first term, the government banned the removal of old-growth vegetation from farmlands and introduced pricing for rural water and an environmental allocation to the state’s river systems. Both initiatives proved controversial in pitching farmers and the state government in conflict.
Two other decisions on forests won the support of the NSW conservation movement. In 2003 the government saved the so-called forest icons, now regarded as jewels in the reserve system in north-eastern NSW. They included, in Carr’s own words, “the old growth forest at Chaelundi where historic conservation battles had been fought a decade previously; nationally significant biodiversity hotspots at Whian; and the largest koala population on the east coast on SNW at Pine Creek near Coffs Harbour".
The curbs on the clearing of nature vegetation were counted as a serious anti-greenhouse gas measure, helping Australia achieve its Kyoto targets. In addition, in January 2003 the Carr government launched the world’s first greenhouse gas trading scheme, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme, which set a limit on carbon emissions by electricity retailers. It was listed by the World Bank as the world’s first carbon trading scheme.
In 2003 the government created the building sustainability index (BASIX) which mandated reductions in energy and water use of up to 40 percent in every new dwelling built after July 2004. Pursuing environmentalism and education improvement gave Carr a lot of satisfaction. He noted in his diary for 21 April 1997: "Yesterday our school reforms were announced. All the ideas I’d formulated in Opposition. Four-unit English for the HSC. Compulsory exams at the end of Year 10. Soft options gone… I mark the package with forestry. I could leave politics and be satisfied with my achievements."
In its second term the Carr government embarked on tort law reform that ultimately won Carr a description from Forbes Magazine as a "dragon slayer". In 1999, with the cost of many forms of injury insurance increasing, Carr gave his Minister John Della Bosca the task of reform. It resulted in what Carr would call "legal rorts" being stripped from the system. The average price of a green slip (compulsory third party motor accident insurance) was to drop $150 on 1999 prices. Carr argued that this created a template for what he called "the most comprehensive tort reform that any government has developed, moving from motor accident to medical indemnity, public liability and worker’s compensation. ... this tort law reform was the best microeconomic reform out of any state government in a decade. It cut the cost of doing business and fed directly into productivity improvement, not at the expense of workers but at the expense of the plaintiff lawyers who had fed on a culture of rorts and rip-offs”.
Carr noted in his diary:
I have cost the law profession hundreds of millions. First, freeing business conveyancing from the lawyers’ monopoly in 1995. [Then] the reforming of accident compensation (cost them hundreds of millions alone) in 1999. Now cutting them out of the action on workers comp. It’s not worth being Premier unless you can take privileges off the undeserving.
However the fact that the law effectively made it impossible to claim for any injury worth less than around $60,000 was criticised by New South Wales Chief Justice James Spigelman and others. Spigelman argued that it effectively "eliminates small claims" entirely, giving "people the right to be negligent and injure someone up to a given level before they become liable". In other words, government agencies and corporations might make decisions that endanger public safety similar to that claimed about the Ford Pinto fuel tank controversy: it would be more economically rational to allow substandard work even if it endangered the public, because the payments for loss of wages and medical bills (under Medicare) would often be relatively small in comparison to the work required. Spigelman said:
The introduction of a requirement that a person be subject to 15 percent of whole of body impairment—a percentage that is lower in some states—before being able to recover general damages has been the subject of controversy. It does mean that some people who are quite seriously injured are not able to sue at all. More than any other factor I envisage this restriction will be seen as much too restrictive.
As a result of the 1999 drug summit sponsored by the government the Carr cabinet introduced Australia’s first medically supervised injecting room for heroin users, located in King’s Cross. The government argued it would provide “a pathway to rehabilitation”. The government argued it was a harm minimisation measure to keep drug users alive until they make the decision to get off drugs. Other reforms included the introduction of drug courts and a voluntary diversion program that allows magistrates to refer offenders to treatment rather than lock them up.
The Carr-led Opposition had backed a motion by independent John Hatton in May 1994 to establish a Royal Commission into corruption in the NSW Police. As a result, Carr inherited the work of the Royal Commission and its reports. In November 1996 one of the reports recommended that the government give increased power to the Police Commissioner to hire and fire all staff, random drug and alcohol testing of all police officers, the formation of the police detection commission to detect and audit police corruption. But the recommendations sparked strong objection from the Police Association backed by the Labor Council and demonstrations at parliament house by 1500 police. There was a revolt in Carr’s parliamentary party.
The Premier was adamant that the commissioner must have the increased power if the police force were to be rid of corrupt or compromised officers. The legislation was passed. The Sydney Morning Herald stated in an editorial that Carr had shown “a steely courage in resisting the pressure of the police association"
The Carr Government pioneered private–public partnerships (PPPs) to fund additional infrastructure, creating a model followed in other states. Five new projects delivered Sydney a ring road system inclusive of the M5 Extension, the Eastern Distributor, the M2 Hills Motorway, the Westlink M7, the Lane Cove Tunnel, and the Cross City Tunnel. As a result up to an hour's travel time was reduced on a north-south journey in Sydney’s west using the 42 kilometres (26 mi) of Westlink M7. Motorists could drive from the northern suburbs of Sydney to just south of Geelong, Victoria – with just one single set of traffic lights at Holbrook, New South Wales. The Cross City Tunnel eliminated 18 traffic lights on an east–west journey under the city and reduced the journey time by 20 minutes. These roads had a total value of A$$5.4 billion. All but $800 million was contributed by the private sector.
According to the press release, in 2007 Infrastructure Partnerships Australia awarded three projects began under Carr’s Premiership as the best PPPs in Australia: the Westlink M7 opened in late 2005; school construction and maintenance which the Auditor General said had saved tax payers $55 million; and the maintenance of 626 new rail carriages. The focus on roads spending instead of public transport has been criticised as the wrong priority on environmental grounds: "It was clear even then that NSW desperately needed public transport investment."
Carr argued that the victory of his successor Morris Iemma (who was re-elected with a big majority in March 2007) came about because of this infrastructure spending. Writing in the Australian Financial Review on 27 March 2007, he observed that Barry Collier, the member for Miranda, had cited $500 million in infrastructure spending in his electorate including the rebuilding of Sutherland Hospital and the construction of Bangor Bypass and Woronora Bridge. Carr also pointed out that Steve Whan, the member for Monaro, had referred to the $60 million rebuilding of Queanbeyan hospital. In Parramatta, he argued, a new rail-bus interchange worth $100 million was a dramatic demonstration of the local member’s capacity to deliver.
A year after his appointment as premier, Carr caused controversy when he recommended that the newly appointed New South Wales Governor, Gordon Samuels, not live at Government House, which would become a museum open to the public. This decision was seen by monarchists as an attempt by Carr, a republican, to downgrade the importance of the office of Governor.
Carr’s government was responsible for the building of facilities and the conduct of the 2000 Olympic Games, described by the International Olympic Committee as 'the best ever!'. Carr was to boast that the 2000 Olympics were paid in full without a cent in debt.
By March 2004, public support for Carr started to slip; Newspoll showed that for the first time more people were dissatisfied than satisfied with the Premier. The opposition were exploiting a public view that the government had underspent on urban infrastructure and public transport. Even after series of announcements and re-announcements of more trains, power stations and a desalination plant, the public had seen enough of Carr. By June 2005, only 35% were satisfied with his performance whereas his dissatisfaction rating had been over 51% since September 2004.
After ten years as Premier, Carr announced his resignation both as Premier and as the Member for Maroubra on 27 July 2005 to be effective from 3 August. This immediately prompted speculation that the resignation was a prelude to a move into federal politics, but Carr denied this. His successor as Premier was former Health Minister Morris Iemma. Carr's resignation triggered the resignations of Deputy Premier Andrew Refshauge and Planning Minister Craig Knowles.
Retired Premier Neville Wran described Carr as "the very model of a modern Labor premier, an articulate and powerful public performer who identified himself with the contemporary policy issues of education and the environment." Wran noted that the Carr model became a template for other Australian Labor Party leaders, with some regarding him as a mentor.
Under Carr the NSW government was able to boast that while in 1994 there were 328 national parks covering four million hectares of NSW, Carr’s policies meant 770 national parks covering 6.6 million hectares by 2006. Wilderness protection was expanded: there were 650,000 hectares (1,600,000 acres) in 1994, by 2006 nearly two million hectares.
The North Side Sewage Tunnel, funded by the government in its first term, stopped more than 20 billion litres of sewage reaching Sydney harbour and saw whales and dolphins return to it. The government also built pollution traps to capture litter and rubbish that would have otherwise been flushed with storm water onto Sydney beaches. In 1994, before the election of the government, 430 kilograms (950 lb) of waste was being generated by every Sydney resident each year, and only 60 kilograms (130 lb) being recycled. Reforms to the waste industry saw a 28 percent reduction to 310 kilograms (680 lb) per person and a 65 percent increase in recycling to 102 kilograms (225 lb) per person.
He received credit for the increase in the number and size of the state's national parks. Less positive comment was received about rail transport which recorded a period of poor on-time running and a damaging industrial dispute in 2004.
After state politics (2006–12)
After leaving state parliament, Carr involved himself heavily in public debate. He championed embryonic stem cell research and helped persuade his successor not to retreat from support for the polling he had promoted in government. Writing in The Daily Telegraph on 24 August 2006 he argued, “Stem cell research enjoys great public support. Let the doctors and scientists get on with the job. Their research might save a life in your family or mine”. Urging support for somatic cell nuclear transfer (or therapeutic cloning) he wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald on 25 July 2006:
There is an air of unreality about the rejection by the Prime Minister, John Howard, of the Lockhart review, which recommended the go-ahead for one form of stem cell treatment, called somatic cell nuclear transfer (or therapeutic cloning), leaving it to the states to ponder whether they can validly legislate on their own. A century from now, people will consider this bewildering, especially when the embryos are byproducts of IVF treatment and if not used in research get thrown out in plastic bags of hospital waste.
He continued to champion nature conservation for example by advocating generous national park declarations over the River Red Gums. The river red gums are "Australian icons, part of our folklore, symbols of inland Australia" he wrote in an op-ed in The Sydney Morning Herald in July 2009.
He was described by journalist Paul Kelly as the nation’s leading opponent of a charter of rights. When the federal government accepted Carr’s argument against a charter, Carr wrote in The Australian that, "if the public believed the executive arm of government were stifling freedoms, Australia slipping behind other democracies, there would have been a decided shove towards a human rights act". He continued “Instead…it sunk below the water, not leaving a slick of printer’s ink”.
Pursuing the interest in literacy he urged an opening of the Australian book market to permit the import of cheaper books.
The rise in the annual immigration intake brought Carr into the debate on what he calls 'Australia’s carrying capacity'. Wrote Mathew Moore in The Sydney Morning Herald “For more than two decades Bob Carr has been warning Australians against unchecked population growth, cautioning that the fragile soils and erratic rivers of the world’s oldest continent make it highly vulnerable to the pressures imposed by every extra resident”.
Carr has argued that “The debate is about whether immigration should be running at very high levels. It’s about whether we end up with a population of 36 million in 2050 in contrast to the previous expectation of 28.5 million".
During the 2010 Federal election, both sides of politics appeared to accept Carr's arguments.
Carr took up the issue of obesity and argued that chain restaurants should be forced by law to put calorie measurements next to menu items, that trans fats be banned as in some US states and food manufacturers be made to reduce salt content. NSW Premier Kristina Keneally appeared to accept his case with an announcement of a State government initiative on food labelling in May 2010.
In retirement Carr has made speeches at international conferences on climate change, Australia–China relations and multiculturalism. He interviewed American novelist Gore Vidal at the Shanghai and Hong Kong writers' festivals in 2007 and Simon Sebag Montefiore, biographer of Joseph Stalin, at Sydney Writers' Week in 2008.
In October 2005 Carr became a part-time consultant for Macquarie Bank, Australia's largest investment bank, advising the company on policy, climate change, renewables and strategic issues with a focus on the United States and the People's Republic of China.
Carr continued pursuing his literary interests, interviewing authors and lecturing regularly at the Sydney Writers' Festival. He appeared as a guest reporter for the ABC television show Foreign Correspondent, conducting an interview with friend Gore Vidal. In 2008 he attended the Australia 2020 Summit as part of the economy panel, and raised the issues of an Australian Republic and childhood obesity.
He has been a member of the board of directors at the United States Studies Centre since 2009 and is a charter member of the Chester A. Arthur Society, a US political trivia group named after the US president, 1881–1885. In 2009 he was appointed to the council of Voiceless, the animal protection institute. In 2010 he was appointed Patron of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Foundation and Patron of the Chifley home, Bathurst.
In April 2013, Fairfax journalist Philip Dorling identified Carr from a searchable database of declassified US State Department diplomatic cables as having criticised the Whitlam Government and provided information on internal Labor Party politics during discussions with the American consul-general in Sydney during the early 1970. Asked about his 1970s contacts with US diplomats, Senator Carr said: "I was in my 20s. I could have said anything."
Federal politics (2012–2013)
On 2 March 2012, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that Carr would be nominated to fill a casual vacancy in the Australian Senate caused by the resignation of Mark Arbib. This term would expire on 30 June 2014. Carr confirmed that he would seek election to the Senate for a further full six-year term and was subsequently nominated at the head of Labor's New South Wales Senate ticket for the 2013 poll.
Carr was formally chosen, albeit unelected, to fill the vacant Senate position by a joint sitting of the NSW Parliament on 6 March 2012. He was sworn as a Senator and Minister for Foreign Affairs on 13 March. Gillard also announced Carr would become the new Minister for Foreign Affairs in succession to Kevin Rudd.
As Foreign Minister, Carr's principal foci were Australia's successful bid for a temporary position on the United Nations Security Council, passage of a global Arms Trade Treaty, the Middle East peace process, the conflict in Syria and stronger relations between Australia and the Asia-Pacific particularly Myanmar, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
United Nations Security Council
Carr's term as Foreign Minister coincided with the final stages of Australia's campaign for a UN Security Council seat. The campaign, initiated by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2009, placed Australia in the ballot for a seat in the "Western Europe & Other" category, against European nations Luxembourg and Finland. In the context of the bid, Carr vocally supported Security Council reform including permanent membership for Japan, Brazil and India and two permanent seats for Africa. Carr credited Australia's successful campaign to promotion of Australia's diplomatic links with Africans and its environmental and cultural links with small island states in the Caribbean and Pacific. On October 2012, Australia was comfortably elected to the Security Council, winning an absolute majority of votes in the first round of balloting - the first time Australia had held a seat since 1985-86. However the Liberal-National Opposition opposed Australia's Security Council bid and was critical on the grounds of cost, impact on foreign policy and the risk of failure in the ballot.
He was a champion for adoption by the UN of a global Arms Trade Treaty to track and reduce the supply of weapons to rogue states or terrorist groups. Carr twice travelled to New York to personally campaign for the treaty. During his term as Foreign Minister the treaty was passed by the UN by 154 votes to 3, concluding a seven-year diplomatic campaign.
Middle East peace process
Carr was also responsible for securing Australian Government support for abstention on a motion before the UN General Assembly to grant observer state status to the Palestinian Authority. This represented a shift from Australia's previous opposition to the motion, championed by then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Carr argued that abstention on the motion allowed Australia to "reach out to moderate Palestinians who want a peaceful solution [to conflict with Israel] and say we're not opposing you." Australia's abstention was opposed by the Liberal Party with shadow Minister Julie Bishop suggesting UN observer status for the Palestinian Authority would "prolong the conflict" between Palestinians and Israel. The UN motion to grant observer state status for the Palestinian Authority was ultimately carried by 138 votes to nine, with 41 abstentions.
In January 2013, in a joint communique with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, Carr called for US leadership in resuming direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians. The communique also noted that both countries had voted to abstain on the UN motion on Palestinian status and that both viewed Israeli settlements on the West Bank as illegal under international law.
Closer to home, Carr worked to build stronger relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), holding in-country talks with all ten member states, twice attending the East Asia Summit and repeatedly emphasizing Australia's interest in regional convergence and co-operation. In 2012 Carr described the health and centrality of ASEAN as critical to Australia's security and prosperity, but warned against ASEAN nations falling into a "middle income trap" of lower growth as a consequence of institutional rigidity and a slowing of internal reform.
Carr also worked to restore global diplomatic relations with Myanmar following the Myanmar Government's release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and introduction of limited domestic political reform. Australian sanctions on Myanmar were lifted at his direction in 2012, though an arms embargo was maintained. Carr then lobbied European a United States leaders to follow suit, with the European Union lifting its sanctions April 2013 and the US moving to increase engagement on trade and investment. Carr urged the Myanmar Government to continue its progress towards democracy, but welcomed the release of political prisoners and commitments to address ongoing ethnic and religious violence. He announced a doubling of Australia's foreign aid for Myanmar to $100 million by 2015, with a focus on education and maternal health. A further $9 million was provided to assist the Rohingya and other communities affected by civil conflict in Rakhine State.
Carr also visited Indonesia on four occasions as Foreign Minister, raising issues such as people smuggling, aid, education links and trade. As Minister for AusAID, Carr oversaw an increase in assistance to Indonesia, to a total of more than $500 million a year for maternal health and education, including $47 million to improve facilities in religious schools.
Engagement with China was a focus of Carr's term as Foreign Minister, and was the subject of his first substantive speech in the role. Speaking to the CSIS Banyan Tree Leadership Forum in April 2012, Carr argued that China's economic and cultural expansion was not new. Rather it was a re-emergence of China onto the international stage, "a return to the position of strength that China possessed before its decline during the Qing dynasty." Carr highlighted the sacrifices made by the Chinese people in achieving independence and noted the rapid pace of Chinese industrial growth:
It's a faster industrialisation and on a bigger scale than that of America itself in the 19th century. It happened faster, more people are affected, more dramatic effects for the world than even America's rise to industrial dominance. ... Few could be untouched by what it means for the Chinese people – liberated from poverty, historic poverty; few could be reluctant to see this renewed China take its place in the councils of the world.
On the first of three visits to China in May 2012 Carr faced questions on more prosaic matters, including from Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi who expressed concern about Australia's blocking of Huawei Technologies in its bid to supply equipment for the National Broadband Network, and about the November 2011 decision to have US Marines rotationally deployed in Darwin. Carr responded that the Huawei decision reflected Australia's right to make decisions on the resilience and security of its infrastructure. He argued Australia had a welcoming approach to Chinese investment, pointing to its 20-fold increase over the preceding five years and to 380 individual proposals from Chinese firms that had been approved in Australia since 2007. He argued the Marines presence reflected Australia's long-term Australian security relationships:
"Australia has had a small population, vast distances, a desire for great and powerful friends, and a sense of exposure to its north ever since Japan defeated Russia in 1905 and Alfred Deakin looked for support (from the US)."
Carr returned to China with Prime Minister Gillard in April 2013 for the annual Boao Forum for Asia, with a focus on strengthening bilateral relations, promoting opportunities for Chinese business in Australia and liberalising currency exchange. As a consequence of talks held during the Forum, the Chinese Government agreed to the direct convertibility of Australian currency into yuan - only the third such agreement in China's history and offering potential for reduced business costs for Australian resource and manufacturing firms. Gillard and Carr also secured agreements for an annual leadership dialogue with their Chinese counterparts, a commitment Carr said had been in discussion for around six months. China's President Xi Jinping was reported as intending to lift Australia-China relations "to a new level" following Forum discussions.
In a speech to the Asia Society following the visit, Carr said Australia's achievements at the Forum had been to create the bilateral architecture needed to support future Australia-China relations - annual leaders and foreign minister's talks, and an ongoing economic dialogue between Australia's trade and competitiveness ministers and the Chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission. Carr also praised China's leadership for being "determined, confident and pragmatic" about the continued economic and geopolitical rise of their country.
His third visit, in July 2013, was to central China where he opened Australia's fourth diplomatic post in China, a consulate-general in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu. At the opening Carr emphasised trade issues, highlighting Chinese investment in Australia and saying the new consulate would assist Australian firms in establishing a presence in western China.
Carr also represented Australia at the 2013 G-20 Saint Petersburg summit, arguing for global jobs growth coupled with fiscal consolidation and structural reform. His G20 interventions included as a member of a panel comprising Russian business and international labour, and in a leader's debate on chemical weapons in Syria. At a sideline meeting convened by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Carr also secured international agreement on a medical pact in Syria to protect hospitals and health care workers from targeted attacks and to maintain humanitarian access for medical NGO's and for the distribution of aid.
Carr's "medical plan" for Syria would be a feature of his foreign policy term and an issue he pursued with some consistency in international fora. The plan aimed to use international pressure to force an informal agreement between all parties in the Syrian civil war, to end the targeting of hospital or medical personnel, avoid the use of hospitals as bases and ensure the safe distribution of civilian medical aid. Speaking after Australia's successful push for the UN Security Council position in 2012, Carr said the plan represented his first priority in its new United Nations role. Australia's foreign aid for the Syrian crisis was also increased to more than $100 million, focusing on shelter, medical support and child protection for refugees fleeing to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
In the absence of a ceasefire or UNSC action on Syria, Carr's plan received significant international support including from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Arab League and leaders at the 2013 G20 Summit.
As Carr had been elected to the Senate at the 2013 federal election, the timing of his resignation created a constitutional quirk whereby O'Neill had to be re-appointed to the Senate by the New South Wales Parliament after the commencement of the 2014–2020 Senate term. To mitigate the cost of recalling both houses of the parliament for a joint sitting (estimated at AUD $300,000), Premier Mike Baird convened a sitting on 2 July of two government members and two opposition members before the President of the Legislative Council to appoint O'Neill to the Senate for the term which began on 1 July.
Bob Carr is the author of several books, including Thoughtlines (Viking, 2002) and My Reading Life (Penguin, 2008). In May 2003, author Marilyn Dodkin produced a biography by Marilyn Dodkin, Bob Carr: the reluctant leader, partly based on Carr's private diaries and including his often uncomplimentary thoughts on various political personalities. A second biography, Bob Carr: A Self-Made Man, by Andrew West and Rachel Morris, was published in September 2003 by Harper Collins. Carr released "Diary of a Foreign Minister" in April 2014. It received a mixed reception with Carr widely ridiculed for his perceived arrogance.
Carr participated in the 2004 Sydney Festival in conversation with Sir Tom Stoppard and has associated with other writers including Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer. He has served as a board member of book retailer Dymocks since July 2007.
For his work in improving Australia–US relations he was awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Fellow Award Scholarship. He donated the prize money to launch scholarships for the State's teachers to complete studies abroad. For his services to conservation he was given the World Conservation Union International Parks Merit Award and made a life member of the Wilderness Society.
In 2008 he was awarded the Cavaliere di Gran Croce Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic), the second of five grades of the order, in recognition of his services to Italian culture.
On 5 July 2013, he was given the United Macedonian Diaspora's Macedonia Friendship Award for his friendship of the Australian-Macedonian community and his work to advance bilateral relations between Australia and Macedonia.
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