Bob Carr has slammed Lindsay Tanner's pessimistic assessment of Labor, saying he was sick and tired of "every galah in the pet shop" having an opinion about what was wrong with the ALP.
"For goodness sake, if you want a case study of a political body without a soul, go to the Liberal Party," the Foreign Minister said in New York.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard also rejected Mr Tanner's views about Labor lacking purpose, and his criticisms of key policies.
Senator Carr, who was wooed out of retirement this year to join the Senate, said it was getting too easy to bag the Labor Party.
"If I were in retirement, if I hadn't taken this job, it would have been a pushover to have polished off another book, number 20, on what's wrong with the Labor Party. It's too easy," he said.
"I'm sure there is terrific analysis in Lindsay's book because Lindsay is very brainy. But it's got a bit too easy to write another book spelling what is wrong with the battered old Labor Party."
Senator Carr is in New York with Ms Gillard, pushing Australia's bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.
"We went through a stage where every galah in a pet shop had an opinion about what was wrong with the Labor Party," he said.
"Now I'm sick of that. I think the public is sick of it, we've got to talk about what the Labor Party has got right – and there are a lot of things it's got right in government – and talk about what Tony Abbott and the Liberals have failed to do and got wrong."
Ms Gillard also struck back, rejecting the notion that Labor lacked purpose.
"The Government's purpose is to keep the economy strong, to make sure that not only today but tomorrow, Australians have got the best of opportunities, and we maximise our prosperity as our region changes," she said.
"And then we find a way to share that, that is fair and meets the needs of the Australian people, which is why you have seen us in the last few months, and you will continue to see us, as a government, very focused on delivering better schools, very focused on delivering better dental care and very focused on delivering a National Disability Insurance Scheme, all great Labor reforms."
Ms Gillard did not answer specifically when asked about Mr Tanner's views that it was wrong to change leaders in 2010. However, she has long been aware Mr Tanner opposed dumping Kevin Rudd at the time.
This morning, Mr Tanner conceded that in "retrospect" he could have done more to address caucus concerns about the leadership style of Mr Rudd, but qualified his statement by saying he believed the former prime minister had begun to read the mood of his team just before his dumping and was unfairly removed in haste.
"In retrospect, should I have done more? Probably yes," he told ABC radio.
"I think it was an extreme overreaction to a set of circumstances. It was unjustified."
Mr Tanner said the decision was based on poll-driven panic amid a tough patch for the government which was experiencing "some misjudgments and some obvious serious problems".