By Jason Morrison
I first came face to face with Bob Carr’s extraordinary self-importance and bullshit in early 1990.
He was leader of the NSW Opposition and I was a teenage radio trainee, working night shift at Sydney’s 2GB.
Bob had been invited into the studio to be interviewed on - from memory - the Kel Richards Show in the early evening. I had the job of meeting and greeting him outside a locked up building.
It was the era before widespread mobile phones so we arranged a time and place to meet; on the street outside the front door of the studios 364 Sussex Street.
Bob was, even then, notorious for keeping people waiting and he didn’t let us down this night when he showed up roughly 20 minutes late for his appearance.
The announcer was rightly pissed off. Padding on the air for 20 minutes, waiting for a guest, is hell when you’re doing a talk show!
As I recall, the host had a chip at him at the start of the interview for showing up so late. A regular bloke would just apologise or even excuse themselves but not Bob Carr.
He decided to spin in. He blamed me.
I recall the words. “There was some confusion with your staff about where we were meeting but it’s all sorted now and I’m here now.”
The host ended up saying sorry for the confusion and I got kicked up the behind.
There was no confusion. 2GB had one and only one entry. Carr was late and he lied to cover it.
So, it was kind of awkward on the way out when the then alternative Premier and his minder had to be escorted down 9 levels in a slow moving lift by the same kid they had just bad mouthed.
As the door’s opened I found the courage to say “thanks for getting me in trouble” only to have Carr refuse to even face me and say “let it go”.
"So what", you might say. But that experience told me plenty about the bloke’s character.
As would become clearer as time went on, this experience was classic Bob Carr. Bullshit your way out of trouble, blame someone else, and gloss over the people you damage along the way.
Spin and ‘change the topic’ was his typical solution to tough situations. Nothing mattered more than protecting his image.
The media was in love with Carr for some reason for most of his decade as NSW Premier. They seemed to admire his Teflon coating. The public would eventually find it repulsive.
His PR staff were elevated as geniuses – largely because they made the media’s job easy. Meanwhile, the State was falling to bits but Bob always walked away shining.
Fast forward to 2012 when Bob came out of retirement to ‘save Australia’ and become Foreign Minister – a job he had desired since the 80s.
Even knowing his form in fouling NSW, his appointment to the Senate was called a “masterstroke” by people who call themselves political analysts.
And today, it’s beyond belief that he’s chosen to show the world what a wanker he really is with the release of his new book on life as our chief diplomat.
Among the quotes the News.com.au has picked out; “I’m the best chairman I know”, “I have more energy than 16 gladiators”, “I did two hours of Pilates, then to Double Bay for my third meditation lesson; then to the office to read cables”.
The Herald reports Carr writes about his “masterly” baritone voice, “I am Foreign Minister… I soar above the mundane and serve my country.” He complains about slumming it in business class on planes and justifies the taxpayer covering his strange dietary demands. He even publishes, in full, a letter from the Singapore Airlines regional vice president, responding to complaints he made about the quality of the inflight entertainment.
That’s the titillating stuff. Then there are some not so diplomatic remarks he makes about leaders of other countries - people and regimes we still have to deal with.
Trust me, we dodged a bullet when he chose to linger back into history … back onto his extraordinary pension.