Senate veteran and industry advocate Kim Carr set to leave politics

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

Long-time industry advocate and former Cabinet minister Kim Carr has announced his retirement from politics after serving nearly 30 years as a Senator.

Senator Carr announced on Sunday morning that he would not seek endorsement for a place on Labor’s Victorian Senate ticket at the upcoming federal election, following reports he was facing a preselection battle.

Labor Senator Kim Carr

In a letter announcing his retirement from politics, Senator Carr cited health issues and the recent death of Senator Kimberly Kitching as reasons for his decision.

“The Labor Party’s mission to create a fairer Australia never ends and while I would have liked to have continued to pursue it in the Parliament, issues with my health have made that inadvisable,” Senator Carr said.

“In light of recent tragic developments, and following determined urgings from my children, I concluded that it was time for me to reassess my priorities.”

Senator Carr has been a dogged supporter of local Australian industry, manufacturing, science and technology across his nearly-three decades in Parliament, as a minister, shadow minister and a member of numerous committees.

He served as Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research from 2007 to 2011 in the Labor government, Minister for Manufacturing from 2011 to 2012 and Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research in 2013.

Senator Carr was also the Shadow Minister for Industry from 2016 to 2019. Despite not being in the shadow ministry in recent years, Senator Carr has continued to pursue industry-related issues regularly in Estimates hearings and through various committees.

“I am proud of the achievements of my team over nearly three decades. With the staff who have worked for and with me, we have, I believe, made a difference for many people in the science, industry, innovation, higher education and research sectors, as well as within human services,” he said.

The loss of Senator Carr’s presence in Canberra was met with dismay by members of the Australian industry.

UTS Special innovation Advisor Professor Roy Green said Senator Carr’s announcement was “momentous”.

“[Senator Carr] is one of the few industry, innovation science and research ministers in the last 30 years to have made a lasting positive difference to the nation he served,” Professor Green said.

“With so much more to give, especially to the future of manufacturing, had the opportunity been there to do so.”

Senator Carr had reportedly been facing a tough task in gaining preselection for the Senate spot in Victoria, but made no mention of factional issues in his resignation letter.

“Nobody should underestimate how tough it is for Labor in this country to be elected to govern, and I take this opportunity to wish the party every success in the forthcoming federal election,” he said.

“There are so many people in this country who need and depend on the progressive government that Labor offers for their wellbeing and ability to fulfil their potential.”

Mr Carr entered Parliament in 1993 to fill the casual vacancy caused by the resignation of John Button, the Labor Industry minister considered the principal architect of modernised Australian industry, and in 2007 Mr Carr also inherited the Industry portfolio.

Parliament “has had no stronger supporter of Australian manufacturing and science”, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said Sunday.

“He was determined to advocate for the interests of manufacturing workers, as well as bringing his background in teaching to pursue greater support for science and education.”

Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong also thanked Mr Carr for his contributions as a minister and Opposition senator.

“In Senator Carr, the higher education, science, research and manufacturing communities could not have had a more passionate champion and advocate around the cabinet table,” Ms Wong said.

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