15 October 2013

Tanya Plibersek for Foreign Affairs...really??

From The Australian, 16 Oct 2013, by Ben Packham:

Tanya Plibersek

...[Deputy Labor leader Tanya] Plibersek, who once called Israel a “rogue state”, has reportedly decided to take the foreign affairs job after exercising her prerogative as deputy to choose her own portfolio.
Colleagues have questioned the move, suggesting other caucus members might be better suited to the role...
During the Iraq war debate in 2002, Ms Plibersek sought to compare the US position on Saddam Hussein's regime to its lack of action on Israel.

“I can think of a rogue state which consistently ignores UN resolutions whose ruler is a war criminal - it is called Israel and the war criminal is Ariel Sharon,” the prominent Left faction MP told parliament at the time. “Needless to say, the US does not mention the UN resolutions that Israel has ignored for 30 years; it just continues sending the money.”

Ms Plibersek told The Australian in 2011 that she no longer held such views and had spoken “injudiciously”. “Like most Labor Party members and supporters, I'm in favour of a two-state solution,” she said.

[ForeignAffairs Minister Julie] Bishop said Ms Plibersek must go further if she wanted to take the job and should publicly repudiate her anti-Israel comments.
“Whomever the Labor Party chooses as the shadow foreign affairs spokesperson, I will be looking forward to working cooperatively with them on a range of issues where there should be bipartisan agreement,” she told The Australian.
“If a shadow foreign affairs spokesperson has made statements which have offended our friends and partners, it will be important for that person to make amends.
“Should Tanya Plibersek become shadow foreign affairs spokeswoman I would urge her to publicly retract those statements.”

...The appointment of a Left faction member to the foreign affairs portfolio would be an unusual move, with the post normally assigned to a high-profile right-winger who can more convincingly articulate mainstream views on Israel and the US alliance.
One Labor MP said Ms Plibersek, elected as MP for Sydney in 1998, had come a long way since 2002 in her views on Israel, deciding she wanted to be a more pragmatic player. However, the MP said there were other caucus members who would be a better fit in the job. The MP singled out Richard Marles, who is seen as a strong candidate for a domestic portfolio.
I think this is a long way from being decided,” the caucus member said.

Labor's former foreign affairs minister Bob Carr has not sought a frontbench position and is expected to announce his retirement from the Senate soon.