SYDNEY - Former Australian foreign minister Bob Carr on Thursday defended his new book in which he savages colleagues, speculates about whether US peers have had plastic surgery and derides business class travel as inspired by the slave trade.
Carr, who spent just 18 months in the job until the Labor government was ousted in elections last September, also wrote that China seems to see Australia as "only slightly more important than New Zealand" and wishes Canberra was "a little less craven" towards the United States.
"I am Foreign Minister... I soar above the mundane and serve my country," he writes in "Diary of a Foreign Minister", a book he admits is heavy on self-parody.
The former premier of New South Wales also describes himself, after complaining of tortuous meetings, as "the best chairman I know" and as having "more energy that 16 gladiators".
Seated next to Russian leader Vladimir Putin and across from US President Barack Obama, Carr recalls the words of late author Gore Vidal: "I cannot feel humble. Interested, curious, of course. Just not humble." The yet-to-be-released book has been criticised by Australia's current Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for "breaching confidences".
But Carr said Australians had a right to know how democracy worked on a day-to-day basis.
"I make no apologies for providing people with a darn good story about how Australian foreign policy is made, about pressures on a foreign minister, about how the whole thing works," he told reporters on Thursday.
He said he used judgement when discussing national security issues in the book, profits from which will be given to a children's charity.