Hunter ALP member's charge against Bob Carr dismissed by party tribunal

Bob Carr, left, and John Garnaut: Pictures: Janie Barrett, Louise Kennerley
Bob Carr, left, and John Garnaut: Pictures: Janie Barrett, Louise Kennerley

A HUNTER region ALP member who charged Bob Carr with bringing the party into disrepute through his links with China has had his allegations dismissed by the NSW branch of the party.

Mark Powell, an ALP member for 21 years, caused a stir in ALP circles when he brought the charge against Mr Carr in May this year after a report in Fairfax Media that the former premier and foreign affairs minister had enlisted Kristina Keneally to ask pro-China questions at a Senate estimates committee hearing.

In a written decision handed down on Friday, the party’s internal appeals tribunal dismissed Mr Powell’s complaint as “frivolous and vexatious” and that it was “manifestly groundless”.

Mark Powell

Mark Powell

Mr Powell had laid the charge against Mr Carr over his role as director of an organisation known as the Australia-China Relations Institute, which was backed by controversial Chinese businessman Huang Xiangmo.

Mr Powell had alleged that Mr Carr had “used his political connections for the advantage” of Mr Huang, by having Senator Keneally ask questions about an ASIO report by former Fairfax China correspondent John Garnaut into clandestine Chinese activities in Australia. 

The tribunal said Mr Powell had provided no evidence for “questioning Mr Carr’s loyalty to this country”.

“In essence, Mr Powell is inviting this tribunal to impose some penalty on Mr Carr on the basis of an indirect association with an individual about whose political connections adverse comment has been made in sections of the media,” the tribunal said.

It said Mr Powell’s arguments were a reminder of a time when even proximity to “a reviled ideology was sufficient to rob one of one’s reputation and livelihood”.