Political memoirs are often worthy but boring. Not Bob Carr's. One of Australia's leading politicians tears up the rules. His account plunges into the unintended consequences of politics, the twists and turns, loaded with furious self-criticism. He lashes himself for ignoring a cry from a cell in Goulburn Gaol and berates his failure to convert the country to reduced immigration and population growth.
Revealed, too, is his joy in saving nature, running good budgets, thrashing opponents, surviving against the odds. He talks about not having kids, about outsmarting the conservatives on law enforcement, about forcing the notorious Obeid out of cabinet. He tells how on a whim, in his last days in opposition, he forced a Royal Commission to upend the state's police, describes what he learnt from Neville Wran and how as a kid, from a working class suburb, he was inspired by Gough Whitlam. He celebrates the Olympics-'the world's best'-without the games.
This 'anti-memoir' takes a critical look at the author- his failure to be ignited by sport (except on two notable occasions) and why in politics being true to your quirky self is good advice.
To set the record straight. To persuade young people to go into politics as I did. To explain how politics works for people looking at it from outside, often puzzled or angry.
I get rid of all the boring bits.
What made you want to become a politician?
Around about the age of 15 I stopped wanting to be a newspaper illustrator and cartoonist and decided to become a career politician. I was influenced by my father and uncle who would talk Labor politics and I started to dip into some books- for example, on Labor Prime Minister Ben Chifley. I think as a school boy I was a bit of a show-off and I was beginning to like debating (although there was little of it at our school).
What’s the best creative advice you’ve ever been given?
Use simple declarative sentences. Use short sentences. Use the direct rather than the indirect form. Be concrete rather than abstract. Avoid cliché.
What’s your favourite book and what are you reading now?
Right now I have just finished Colm Toibin’s House of Names and I am wrapping up a book on Putin. But I need to get another classic under my belt. Not sure what it should be.