It's been a decade since Australia's political class have had a decent memoir controversy. In 2005 it was Mark Latham's Diaries. In 2014 it's Bob Carr's Diary of a Foreign Minister. It's a rare event in this country, the publication of a foreign minister's diary so soon after he has left office. Today's news will be littered with each juicy morsel as it's discovered by journalists. Already we have learned about Carr’s parting with Julia Gillard over Israel and media regulations, and Carr's views on the indignities of business-class travel, for which News Corp is calling Mr Carr a "first-class tosser". There will no doubt be more revelations before the day is through.
But life and politics go on. Tony Abbott is in China, reassuring our largest trading partner that moving closer to Japan doesn’t mean that we’re turning our back on Beijing. That’s a difficult balancing act, given recent tensions between China and Japan. We watch developments with interest.
There is an interesting footnote on the Carr diaries. It’s the public’s right to know the ‘quotidian details’ of life as a politician which Carr feels justifies publication. Julie Bishop, Carr’s successor, thoroughly disagrees, and so this story dovetails oddly with the existing ‘free speech’ debate. One thing's for certain: journalists and commentators will feel entirely free to respond however they want to Carr's book.
"When examined under a bright light, as we have done so in our submissions to the recent Senate inquiry on Direct Action, Direct Action doesn’t hold up at all well. Yes, it’s an attractive political phrase, the combination of two very positive-sounding words. Yes, the Coalition’s negative strategy surrounding carbon pricing has been politically successful. But as a piece of public policy for use in achieving either short- or long-term emissions reduction goals, Direct Action is fundamentally flawed."
"Sending an ‘open for business’ message to Chinese leaders, Tony Abbott is looking at how to adjust an inflexible veto power over state-owned enterprises that want to invest in Australia. The changes could lure more investment into resources, infrastructure and the agriculture sector by removing obstacles for Chinese enterprises that have proven commitments to Australia."
Also: Don’t be misled on Chinese foreign investment: read the facts (Hans Hendrischke and Wei Li, The Conversation)