‘This is a big, juicy win for Australia,’ purred Bob Carr, his eyes glinting like the cat that swallowed the cream and his tongue flicking at the corners of his mouth like Tom eyeing up Jerry. Justifiably so. It was a delicious moment, full of mouthwatering possibilities.
Not for Australia, of course. Two years rubbing shoulders with the likes of Rwanda and Luxembourg is no great shakes. Apart from squandering our dosh on limo rides and Chardonnay piss-ups around Lower Manhattan, the most that the Security Council seat can be expected to give us is the opportunity to buzz away in the ears of the Americans, Chinese and Russians like a persistent mosquito on a hot summer’s night until one of them gets irritated enough to take a whack at us, leaving us smeared bloodily up against the UNSC bedhead.
The overwhelming security challenge of the next two years will be Iran, and the only worthwhile role we could play in this dangerous drama (equivalent to staring down Hitler or the Soviets) is to loudly support Israel. Will we? Not under Labor, who lack the moral fortitude and clarity of political vision. Instead, expect Australia under Labor to use its position on the Security Council to lecture our friends and patronise our foes.
No, the real winner is Bob Carr, who — astonishingly — has yet again landed on his feet. From being handed the NSW Labor leadership post-Unsworth, to stealing a one-seat majority courtesy of an outright pre-election lie (sound familiar?), to bailing out just before his ten years of spin and mismanagement disastrously unravelled, leaving others to wear the blame while he nabbed a cushy gig at the squillionaire’s Macquarie Bank (doing, er, what?), to being handed the Foreign Minister gig courtesy of Gillard’s fear of Rudd and without the tiresome bother of facing the electorate, the narrative of Bob Carr’s career has been one of quick-footed opportunism and extraordinary good luck.
Forget that the seat was all Rudd’s idea, and that up until the last moment Carr was pretending we wouldn’t win. Bob now ‘owns’ the victory.
Which offers Carr two enticing opportunities. The win allows him to ‘do a Gareth’ and, should Labor lose the next election, hop onto the first available flight and spend his twilight years gadding around New York, Washington and Geneva. That’s a given. But the more intriguing possibility, the twinkle that’s been gleaming away in Bob’s eye ever since he first strode up the steps of Parliament House and broke into his over-rehearsed (like a kabuki actor?) ‘look into my eyes’ Tony Abbott sketch, has been the Prime Ministership. Handed to him on a plate.
With Rudd dragging himself along the ground like Monty Python’s black knight, with Combet exuding all the charisma and charm of a soggy dishcloth, with Shorten proving daily he’s nothing more than a union hack, and with Roxon sullied by her disgraceful performance as Attorney-General, Bob knows that there’s nobody else who comes close to exuding Prime Ministerial gravitas. Except, of course, for Julia Gillard.
And it’s not as if she’s going to make any stuff-ups between now and the next election, is it?