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Monday 21 Aug 2017 | 20:51 | SYDNEY
Monday 21 Aug 2017 | 20:51 | SYDNEY

Bob Carr's Washington warm-up

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26 April 2012 12:15

Bob Carr delivered his first major address in Washington today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

As someone who used to spend his university lunch breaks watching NSW parliamentary question time just so I could see the man's debating skills in practice, it was a bit disappointing to not see the same Carr on display.

It was a solid speech, but did not harness the Carr potential. He exuded an obvious interest in US, Australian and Chinese history. The speech ticked off all the required US alliance bullet points: solidarity on Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, the EAS and non-proliferation. But for someone as knowledgeable on the US as Carr, it was a missed opportunity. His speech seemed like it was drafted by committee; a bit disjointed with odd bits tossed in at random and a few abrupt segues. 

The notable points were repeated emphasis that Australia was not withdrawing from Afghanistan but merely 'transitioning', perhaps suggesting a bit of concern about the meaning behind Prime Minister Gillard's recent announcement. Another was Carr's focus on ocean management, which he made a decent effort of pushing onto the agenda. 

The speech was also a sign of just how much detail a foreign minister needs to get on top of to master their portfolio, no matter how experienced a politician they are. When asked a question on Fiji, Carr had to resort to reading from some clumsily written talking points.

Hopefully, next time Washington will get to see one of Australia's greatest orators in action.

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