This article was first posted as a comment to an article by Tim Murray, but I decide to turn it into my own blog entry after it was pointed out that the size of this comment caused Tim's article to be dwarfed.
Tim Murray, in his excellent article "Is the home-building industry the prime mover of our ecological ruin?" of 31 December 2008 wrote:
"The former Premier of New South Wales, Bob Carr, once offered Australia a choice. It could sustain jobs and economic security by using its brains, by being a smart economy, by adding value to the products it produces and by transforming manufacturing. Or it could continue to be a 'lazy Australia' that depends on job growth simply by driving up population numbers and depending on the growth you get by building homes and shopping malls. And that is indeed what is it has done, adding a third to its population in less than three decades."
These words point to the essence of the problem.
Population growth is an 'easy' way for those, who have guided this country's destiny for at least the last three decades, to enrich itself. But, the evidence, not to mention, common sense and basic intuition, tells us from the point of view of this society as whole, we can only become poorer and not richer as a result. Firstly, the access of each one of us to our natural resources must necessarily be reduced on average, and secondly, although, less intuitively obvious, increasing population size, once an optimum population size has been passed, creates dis-economies, rather than economies of scale. It costs more per head of population as our cities become more packed, to build and maintain the infrastructure necessary to provide, transport, water, electricity, health care, education and other essential services. However, paradoxically, as we become poorer an average and as we steal ever more wealth from future generations, a small elite become wealthier.
The way to become wealthier as Carr implied was to build up a manufacturing and science base using the talent we already have within our shores. This indeed happened, when Australian had a population of only 7 million between the First and Second World Wars. Although not a well understood fact Australia, as a result became largely self-sufficient and, through the strength of its manufacturing base able to sustain a navy and air force and an army with eight fully-equipped divisions by July 1942, was able to deter the Japanese from persuing their plans to invading Australia in March 1942, even before their defeat by US forces at the Battle of the Coral Sea. This country was a world leader in technology. This is the thesis of Andrew Ross's "Armed and Ready - the industrial development and Defence of Australia 1900-1945" of 1995. Although largely ignored since 1995, it has yet to be challenged bay any comparable work. This was the subject of a discussion on Online Opinion and I made use of it in an article "The myth of the Howard Government's Defence Competence" of 21 November 2007.
Had Australia maintained that technological lead, I believe that we would have been a more prosperous nation as well as a more equitable and democratic nation and we would have stood a greater chance of achieving sustainable technological base. However it seems that it appears that it suited an elite within our society which has come to guide our destiny to throw all that away in order to be able to enrich itself at the expense of the rest of us and this process continues today.
Notwithstanding Bob Carr's very apt comments, I just cannot accept that he was ever sincere. Of course, he always sounds sincere, but his actions, and even his words, on other occasions belie these words.
Listen to Bob Carr's moving words, at an ABC sponsored public 'forum' on 18 September 2008, about how we were all warned as far back as the 1970's about the perils of global warming and then ask yourself how a man with this knowledge could have then been responsible for the massive expansion in NSW open cut coal mining which is not only helping to fuel global warming, but also destroying NSW's own environment.
Although this was supposed to be a 'forum', in the typical style of Bob Carr who, throughout his career has avoided critical scrutiny even more determinedly than the fabled Count Dracula avoided sunlight, limited question time to 10 minutes.
However, the written comments at the end of the page give an overwhelmingly damning verdict of his legacy. Here are some:
"Bob Carr should have done a lot more reading when he was in office -- reading the reports about the shocking state of the health, education, transport and infrastructure of NSW. Then perhaps he would've done something about it. Or perhaps he would have arranged a succession plan when he vamoosed out of politics before it came crashing down.
"Or perhaps he should've spent less time reading job offers from banks with connections to road-building firms.
"Bob Carr has always had pretensions of gravitas, but we don't have to prop up his delusions.
We are paying for his superannuated retirement, so could we give no public air time to his irrelevant ponderings -- his actions mean that his mental meanderings have no credibility."
This drew a defence:
I don't find Carr enormously stimulating, but you clearly don't have anything coherent against him - apart from his unsatisfactory chin. Harold Bloom - he of the Western Canon - paid tribute to Bob Carr as the only senior politician whom he respected as an intellectual: www.podcastdirectory.com/podshows/2890398.
... which, in turn drew a further response:
"I'm not searching for deep intellectualism in my politicians. If I were, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott would rank well ahead of Bob Carr on sheer intelligence (although I know intelligence is not the same as intellect). I would say Harold Bloom didn't get around enough if he really thought Bob Carr was the only senior politician whom he regarded as an intellectual, or maybe he never met Edward Kennedy, Sir Edward Heath, Enoch Powell or dare I say it, Edward Whitlam #main-fn1">1 (what is it with Edwards?).
"You are being disingenuous when you say we complain only of Mr Carr's chin. We are complaining about his sale of public assets, his close relationship with businesses that profitted under his government, and the general ineptitude of his government."
"... Then was the disgraceful Workers Compensation Reform. Instead of making those who caused the problem pay he made the workers and community pay. ...We do not deserve these indecent preaching pratts but we have them."
"The collective disdain toward Carr in this blog gives me a glimmer of hope in humanity. There are actually people out there who are switched on to just how ridiculous this country has become. Our governments consist of individuals that could be considered criminals by any rational court."
"Give me a break. 'Human Decency' would demand an apology from this 'retired', at great public expense, ex-professional politician that never had real job or a degree from the university of life and probably the worse leader ever of this state, to the long suffering taxpayers and people of theONCE great State of NSW, for what he and his party have done to us. He should have the "Human Decency" to apologize. Tsk, Tsk ..."
"This is the man who recently gave his full moral support to Morris Iemma's and Michael Costa's attempt to privatise their electricity assets of NSW in spite of the fact that Iemma had ruled that out prior to the 2007 elections and in spite of the fact that 79%-86% of NSW residents opposed privatisation - all quietly forgotten, at least, that is what he no doubt hopes.
"It is most strange how Carr seems so much more passionate about events in other times and the politics of other lands than he ever was about the political and events in the time and place, where as state Premier and potential federal Labor leader and, hence, potential Prime Minister, he could have made a lasting and positive impact on Australian and, possibly, world history. Of course, it is a matter of record that he did not and his administration will be remembered as one of the most inept, secretive and anti-democratic in the history of this county.
"I wonder if Bob Carr has ever contemplates how figures like himself are likely to be viewed in future times by people trying to understand this age through the fictional and non-fictional works of our time." - James Sinnamon
"It is sad indeed that Australian political life is so reduced that Bob Carr passes as 'interesting' and an 'intellectual'. In general Australian politicians lag about 20 to 30 years behind informed opinion on matters outside of their field of interest - personal power and privilege."
"Bob didn't show much human decency when he sold off Prince Henry Hospital, when before he was elected he promised he would save it.
"Long term illnesses, such as aids, mental illness and long term heart recovery, just to name a few, had this beautiful position on the coast to recover in. But he sold it off under the pretence of changing the laws to protect coastal lands, which actually just gave him the power to do what he wanted.
"Medical teams were disgusted and sad, because they knew they would never have such great teams and means for recovery again.
"Where is the decency in that? So I guess we have answered the question."
"Demonstrably, Mr Carr must have only a theoretical interest in human decency.
Practically, he squattered the housing boom in NSW during the 10 years that he was Premier with the result of infrastructure breakdowns, health meltdown, etc of essential services.
"Pity that a well read man such as Bob Carr only make sounds which practically signify nothing in what he did.
"There are basic flaws in a political system that rewards such hypocrisy."
"He is giving himself credibility but NSW knows bob the builder of tolls and tolled tunnels and fire sales of Acer Arena lowest bid wins and Sydney Showground foxy giveaways
"We get to pay the pension indexed to their former self served salaries... in addition to an office with staff a minder and a travel expense free ride....
"Parasites never leave the host until the host is totally consumed.
"If they have obviously stitched up a consultancy job in the private sector with prior intimacy ... then the perks should be suspended until they are needy.
"It would be 'humanely decent' if they gave up the perks until they are retired at 65 with a pension closer to the average wage and fund their own office and staff and carr transport.
"Take the Ted Mack pledge not to drain our Treasury for the purpose of supporting the people not the servants of the people... Ted was decent, nobody else has the decency he walked the talk and left no toll for his life's work."
"Why this man isn't in gaol is unfathomable.
"I notice that the very bank who owns the toll roads in sydney is now his employer.
"If this man is a letter of letters then the best place he should be writing his comments and memoirs should be behind a locked door. It is people like Bob Carr who have become a gnawing cancer in society, from their actions they encourage more illegal activity, thus throwing Australian society into the depths of the developing world. ..."
I could write pages more about Bob Carr's many other crimes against the environment, democracy, accountability and social justice. Whilst his environmental accomplishments were substantial in his early years, particularly his massive extension of NSW's National Parks, I think those accomplishments and all his fine words about population control should more properly be regarded as 'bait' to cause people environmentalists to forgive him for a massive slew of other pro-business and anti-environmental policies. To get an idea how 'bait and switch' is used , view Barrie Zwicker's deconstruction of the phony US dissident Noam Chomsky in the YouTube broadcast "The Shame of Noam Chomsky and the Left gatekeepers". I think Carr is a kind of fake-Malthusian variant of Noam Chomsky.
#main-fn1" id="main-fn1">1. #main-fn1-txt">↑ Edward Gough Whitlam is more widely known as 'Gough Whitlam'. Bob Carr has repeatedly spurned the legacy of Gough Whitlam, but had Gough's Government retained power, he would have prevented the population growth that Carr claimed to be against. Furthermore the Department of Urban Planning (or something with a similar name) which was abolished by Malcolm Fraser would have constrained the damage that developers were able to cause to our cities. For all of his flaws Gough Whitlam is an intellectual giant in comparison to Carr as the poster pointed out. Moreover, unlike the do-nothing government of Bob Carr, Gough's Government implemented far greater number worthwhile reforms (although most have been, sadly, subsequently dismantled).