Bob Carr’s appointment to the Senate today by the NSW Parliament means that the Prime Minister does not need to rely on s 64 of the Constitution, which allows Ministers of State to be appointed from outside Parliament for up to three months.
In any case, Carr’s appointment has shared more with American, than Australian, traditions of executive appointments. Why shouldn’t we then also import another American practice? Senate confirmation proceedings.
The last week has revealed that Senator Carr has many views on foreign policy issues that directly contradict longstanding Australian Government policy. While no one doubts Senator Carr’s knowledge or capacity, his previously held views do limit his ability to be a convincing representative of Australian interests.
He has to do better than his “I was wrong” response he gave to Fran Kelly yesterday morning.
Some questions the Senate could usefully ask Senator Carr:
- What is the legitimate use of military force when dealing with rogue nations? Is it legitimate for countries to invade others to restrict their access to weapons of mass destruction?
- You have expressed disquiet about the decision to invade Afghanistan and remove the Taliban. Was Australia wrong to invoke the ANZUS treaty following the September 11 attacks?
- Should force remain an option in dealing with the threat of Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon?
- You have said that sanctions against Iran are “plainly counterproductive”. Would you support their removal? In particular, do you think Europe should end its embargo on importing oil from Iran?
- Is force a legitimate option to respond to humanitarian concerns? Should force remain an option in dealing with Syria?
- What pressure should the international community place on North Korea to improve its behaviour?
- Do you believe that Australia should help the United States protect the independence of Taiwan?
- Should Australia’s foreign relations with democratic nations be a closer one compared to those with non-democratic nations?
- What would you do to improve Australia’s relations with Indonesia?
- You have stated previously that there is a “relatively high risk” of terrorists obtaining access to enough fissile material to detonate a nuclear bomb in a large city. What actions should be taken to mitigate this risk?
- How is your concern over nuclear material falling into the wrong hands consistent with your belief that even if Iran were to acquire a nuclear bomb it is “best not to contemplate pre-emptive war”?
- How do you think Australia should handle territorial disputes involving China in the South China Sea?
- In practice, how would Australia sanction China playing a larger role in the Asia-Pacific region without jeopardising the interests of our allies, such as Japan, the Philippines and India?
- In some of your writings you seem to present a black and white view that Australia has a choice between Chinese or American influence in the Asia-Pacific. Doesn’t this overlook the interests of many other nations in the region?
- Would you meet with the Dalai Lama?
- What do you think of Tony Abbott’s expressed view that a trade agreement with Japan should be a priority because its economy more resembles a market economy compared to China’s?