Bob Carr | How politics and books shaped a life

Aug 25, 2022 | Announcements, News & Media

Former NSW Premier and Foreign Minister to deliver the fifth Ramsay Lecture for 2022.

Sydney, Thursday 25 August 2022: What is the education of an Australian Labor Leader?

Much is made of politicians’ professional, union, or staffer backgrounds, but what of their literary backgrounds? What do we know about the books they have encountered, the works they have studied, their overall literary influences, and how these shaped their thinking, and approach to politics and life?

To reveal his literary influences and talk about how politics and books have shaped him, one of Australia’s most well-read public figures and an author himself, former Foreign Minister, Professor the Hon Bob Carr, will deliver our fifth Ramsay Lecture for 2022.

In a wide-ranging address Professor Carr, who is also the longest continuously serving Premier in NSW history, will outline the case for ‘cultural literacy’. He will discuss his favourite biographies, with special reference to many US Presidents, as well as former NSW Premier William Arthur Holman, and Australia’s 16th Prime Minister Ben Chifley.

Professor Carr will also contemplate the Western canon and its relation to what is studied at schools and universities. Finally, he will reflect on how we should approach figures (and statues) from our past and argue why he believes history is the most serious and urgent of the humanities.

Professor Carr is a former Australian Labor Party politician. He served as NSW Minister for Planning and Environment from 1984 to 1988, and as Leader of the NSW Opposition from 1988, until his election as Premier in March 1995. He was re-elected in 1999 and 2003, securing an historic third four-year term. He retired from state politics in 2005.

In March 2012 he was designated by Prime Minister Julia Gillard as Australia’s Foreign Minister, elected to the Australian Senate to fill a casual Senate vacancy, and sworn into the Senate and Cabinet on March 13, 2012.

Following his resignation from the Senate in 2013, in 2014 he was appointed the Director of the newly established Australia China Relations Institute at The University of Technology Sydney, the first think tank devoted to Australia-China relations, serving there for five years.  Between 2019 and 2022 he served as Professor of Industry in Climate and Business at the University of Technology Sydney helping shape debate on climate and energy. 

Professor Carr has received the Fulbright Distinguished Fellow Award Scholarship. He has served as Honorary Scholar of the Australian American Leadership Dialogue. He is the author of Thoughtlines (2002), What Australia Means to Me (2003), My Reading Life (2008), Diary of a Foreign Minister (2014) and Run for Your Life (2018).

**This will be a live Ramsay Lecture, held at The Mint on Wednesday 31 August. To attend register your interest at

Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098/