Carr was unexpectedly appointed to his new job earlier in the year to replace the popular (in PNG) Kevin Rudd and made sure his first visit in the new role was to … New Zealand.
Then, soon after his appointment, came a diplomatic incident that he alone triggered. The full story can be told in four newspaper headlines:
14 March - Bob Carr threatens PNG with sanctions (News.com.au)
15 March - PNG reacts with fury to Bob Carr sanction threat (Sydney Morning Herald)
15 March - Bob Carr hits out at PNG (Sydney Morning Herald)
16 March - Bob Carr in backdown over PNG sanctions threat (The Australian)
If you search for statements by the Australian foreign minister about Papua New Guinea, apart from those that led to the foregoing headlines, and – PNG elections aside – they are few and far between.
As we noted at the time, the Australian government’s ‘Asian Century’ pyrotechnics of a week or so ago completely overlooked PNG and the Pacific.
This zone of considerable strategic and economic importance to Australia, which is essentially just over the fence, doesn’t seem to rate with Canberra.
Let’s hope Carr will bring his considerable intellect to defining for the rest of us just how Australia sees itself effectively managing its relationship with PNG over the next decade or so.
Perhaps readers could address a few comments to offering the foreign minister with some advice on this question.
The Comments link awaits your use just below.