When he first became Labor leader, no-one expected very much from Bob
Carr – an intellectual in a workers’ party, a politician apparently
out of step with the modern demand for spin and image. Instead, he has
become one of the most successful leaders in the country and the
longest-serving premier of NSW.

I’ve pointed out before in Crikey the way that NSW has been at the
leading edge of the electoral cycle since at least the 1980s. Bob Carr
didn’t start this trend, but he has kept it up: his narrow victory in
1995 was followed in all the other states, his 1999 landslide was the
precursor to those in Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria (and maybe
South Australia next year), and his second landslide two years ago has
already been echoed in Queensland, with Victoria apparently headed in
the same direction.

The unprecedented dominance of Labor at the state level, still with no
end in sight, is hard to imagine without Bob Carr. The failure of the
federal ALP to attract him, despite several attempts, is also
symptomatic of its problems. Three lessons to be learned from this:
politics is full of surprises; a big part of success is due to
luck – being in the right place at the right time; and the
public craves authenticity in a way that the spin doctors just can’t

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey