Twenty years ago Paul Keating delivered his famous Redfern speech; five days ago one of Australia’s greatest living musical performers, Gurrumul Yunupingu, was denied access to a Melbourne taxi.
Two decades earlier his cousin, Mandawuy Yunupingu, lead singer of internationally-acclaimed band, Yothu Yindi, was refused a drink in a Melbourne bar, and last week the Government tabled the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill 2012 to the Australian Parliament.
These four events all point to Australia’s ongoing struggle to achieve reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader Australian community.
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Walking around Sydney’s big, gaudy bicentennial showpiece Darling Harbour recently, the place just seemed so sad. The word dowdy doesn’t do it justice. Imagine stepping out in the suit or dress you wore to your Year 12 formal. Now imagine you’d been wearing it every day since.
Just down the way, and soon to be linked by a waterfront walkway, lies the former port area of Barangaroo. All manner of shiny plans for the site have been drawn up, rejected, put forward again, and debated to death – mostly by those who consider any building without a picket fence a monument of brutalist architecture and an affront to humanity.
The latest from Barangaroo is that James Packer wants to build an even bigger tower and casino than originally planned. The plans are bound to bounce back and forth between various planning bodies and perhaps even the courts. But former PM Paul Keating gave it the thumbs up today, and that’s good enough for us.
Apologies if you are offended by swearing. If you are offended by swearing, click on another article.
In the early 2000s former prime minister Paul Keating gave a speech at the Sydney Town Hall where he took aim at the city’s growing culture of materialism and spoke of his fear that the next generation of first homebuyers would be priced out of the Sydney property market. It was a thoughtful and sincere speech and one I covered in a straight fashion for my then newspaper The Daily Telegraph.
I got a call that night from one of the sub-editors, a man who to his professional detriment had spent some time on Fleet Street, who said ominously that he had given the copy “a small tickle-up”. The sub thought it should be noted that Keating, as an apparent enemy of materialism, owned an extensive number of antique French clocks. It’s the kind of phone call that usually guarantees another phone call the following day, and sure enough it did, with the phone ringing at 9.01am and a woman’s voice saying “Hello David, I have Mr Keating on the line for you.”
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Am I missing something? I seem to be the last even remotely left-leaning person not to think the progressive sun shines out of Paul Keating’s hallowed backside.
A musical has been written about him. The best interviewers at the ABC speak to him in awed reverence, never for a moment stopping to quiz him on his own failures or shortcomings as he reads out his many laundry lists of everyone else.
Even Tory warhorse Janet Albrechtsen has heralded his “fine reforms” and confessed to voting for him in 1993.
And then there are all those progressive tweeps I follow who tweet about how they can’t wait to see said interviews. Then quote him throughout with gushing editorial hard up against the ubiquitous #.
“Keating: Blah blah blah I rule, everyone else sucks.” PJK summarises perfectly. Come back Paul, we miss you! #PJKforPMagain! That sort of thing.
Most Australians couldn’t give two hoots who runs the Australia Network. It is of no importance to them whether the ABC or SKY News is in charge of the television service this country projects into Asia.
Just the same, the spectacular botching of the tender process during the week has a political impact because it reinforces the impression of government incompetence.
The response of many voters to the scandal will be: “See, I told you. This mob couldn’t raffle a chook in a pub.”
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In a week’s time, as Finance Ministers and Treasurers from around the world gather in Washington to discuss the economic woes afflicting America and Europe, there will be an important ceremony on the sidelines.
Euromoney, the world’s leading magazine for banking and finance, will present the prestigious Finance Minister of the Year Award.
Each year the award honours the Finance Minister, Treasurer or central bank governor whose key decisions “have directly benefited both the performance and perception of their country’s economic and financial achievements”.
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My political bubble recently burst when I realised this is a quintessential Labor government. I was convinced the Labor Party was just a microeconomic reform away from returning to its successful period of economic rationalism and bold reform between 1983 and 1996.
The delusion was abetted by the Prime Minister and her shallow rhetoric that she was reformist in the Hawke and Keating tradition.
I was lured into supporting the Labor Party by the Keating-inspired economic reforms that remade a moribund economy into an open and internationally competitive one.
If a protestor at the carbon tax rally last week had held up a sign saying Prime Minister Julia Gillard was a “dead carcass, swinging in the breeze”, what would the reaction have been?
Vitriol is part of political life. But there is no one who can spew it out with the calculated cruelty and contempt of former PM Paul Keating. He could craft the sort of insults that other politicians would be proud to be associated with.
Mr Keating has now made headlines for his attack on John Robertson, NSW MP and potential party leader. He said Robertson wore the political deaths of a couple of dozen Labor members around his neck, and was a “lead weight” in Gillard’s political saddlebags. It was not a bad effort. It wasn’t his best.
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With the coming release of John Howard’s autobiography, Lazarus Rising, it’s worth considering Howard’s standing in Australia’s political history, and to compare him to his arch-nemesis, Paul Keating.
John Howard and Paul Keating were political titans for 30 years but were vastly different politicians—and famously couldn’t stand each other.
Australian politics has enjoyed many compelling rivalries, such as Keating and Bob Hawke, Howard and Peter Costello and Julie Bishop and a garden gnome, but none have been as rancorous as between Keating and Howard.
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It must be Christmas for politics right now because the ghosts of prime ministers past are out in force.
Yesterday, Bob Hawke and John Howard tussled over the future of the global economy, China and federalism at the Oxford Business Alumni Forum in their first ever head-to-head debate.
Away from the lectern, last week Hawke backed Anna Bligh over daylight saving in southeastern Queensland and called on Australia to rethink its position on nuclear waste.
In 1992 Paul Keating’s leadership motivated me to join the Labor Party. Keating provided the labour movement with the leadership, vision and fighting spirit needed to combat the regressive Fightback package.
Keating won the election, and Labor celebrated a great win against neo- liberalism. What followed was a period of government where Keating’s great intellect and vision was pitted against his arrogance, exhaustion and electoral indifference.
This was a difficult and frustrating period for many Labor supporters and I remember periods of despair at our performance. After 1996 the whole labour movement shied away from defending Keating, his Government and his politics due to the collective scars caused by his defeat.
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It is grossly hypocritical of Paul Keating – or anyone else in the public eye – to complain about the media invading their family’s privacy.
I’m sick of politicians and performers, who trade their profiles for money, biting the hand that feeds them.
Keating’s daughter Katherine has a reputation for appearing at the opening of an envelope to promote her political lobbying business. But why turn up at a VIP party, sponsored by a vodka company, dressed as Amy Winehouse, if you don’t want to be papped by photographers?
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The Punch has always been impressed by Bronwyn Bishop’s deep knowledge of the standing orders of the House of Representatives, and sympathises with her point of view. But no one should have to endure another Question Time like yesterday’s.
After last week’s fantastic debate about the role of sticky tape and whether it should be allowed as an adhesive in Joe Hockey’s dispatch box props, we had high hopes for some major Kevin Rudd lever-arch file action this week. Even the valiant efforts of Annabel Crabb, however, couldn’t rescue yesterday’s questions from dire tedium.
Wilson Tuckey reckons voters are upset with Rudd’s obsession with laminated photographs of primary school demountables and road works. But it’s sometimes the props that make QT bearable. Remember the cardboard cut-out Kevin Rudd? It was almost better than the real one.
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