The appointment of former New South Wales Premier and newly minted Federal senator Bob Carr as foreign minister is a bold statement of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s intent to vanquish the prowling wolves within her own ranks.
Bob Carr certainly has the experience and expertise from public and private life to take on the position of Foreign Minister. But in the bigger picture, whether he is qualified for the portfolio or not is beside the point.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the ALP leadership circus is far from finished. Last week’s leadership ballot was more a party referendum on Kevin Rudd rather than a clear statement about the identity of the party’s preferred leader.
Should Gillard’s public popularity remain toxic, we could expect another leadership challenge later in the year. Names including Bill Shorten, Stephen Smith and Simon Crean have been mentioned as possible successors.
With Rudd out of the way, the Prime Minister needed to makes some bold moves in order to assert her authority and strengthen her position as leader.
Returning the foreign affairs portfolio to Stephen Smith would have been an unwise move for Gillard, given his prominence in ongoing leadership speculation.
Many people will be asking why Smith was not reinstated as Foreign Minister after he stepped aside to accommodate the defeated Kevin Rudd in 2010. Gillard would be foolish to give him such a high profile platform from which to make his pitch as an alternative Prime Minister.
The forces within the ALP arrayed against Julia Gillard are yet to reveal themselves. But make no mistake, Gillard is boldly staking her claim to retain the top job and slay those wolves baying at the door.
***A version of this piece was published in the Border Mail under title ‘Keeping wolves away‘ on Saturday 3rd March, 2012.
Dr. Benjamin Habib is a Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at La Trobe University, Albury-Wodonga. Ben’s research project projects include North Korea’s motivations for nuclear proliferation, East Asian security, international politics of climate change, and undergraduate teaching pedagogy. He also teaches in Australian politics and the international relations of the Middle East. Ben undertook his PhD candidature at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, and has worked previously for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. He has spent time teaching English in Dandong, China, and has also studied at Keimyung University in Daegu, South Korea. Ben is involved with local community groups Wodonga and Albury Toward Climate Health (WATCH) and Transition Albury-Wodonga.
Ben welcomes constructive feedback. Please comment below, or contact Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views in this story are those of the author and not necessarily those of Our Voice: Politics Albury-Wodonga.