Crikey Says

Aug 26, 2010

That other former Labor leader…

He's feisty, he's a pugilist, a former Labor leader and he lives, mainly, in his own political past. The most exciting ex-leader in Australia is Paul Keating, and he's at it again today.

He's feisty, he's a pugilist, a former Labor leader and he lives, mainly, in his own political past. No, we're not talking about Mark Latham. The most exciting ex-leader in Australia is Paul Keating, and he's at it again today, defending himself against, of all people, his former speechwriter. Keating's subject de jour is his famous 1992 Redfern speech about the misdeeds perpetrated against aboriginals. He has written an entire op-ed in The Age to "make clear Watson was not the author of the speech", accusing him of attempting to take credit for the oration. In July, the target of Keating's elegant vitriol was Bob Hawke, about whom he wrote:
"The fact is, Bob, I was exceedingly kind to you for a very long time. I knew the state you were in in 1984 and notwithstanding a lot of unhelpful advice from Garnaut and other obsequious members of your staff, I carried you through the whole 1984-1987 parliament, insisting you look like the prime minister, even if your staff, the Manchu Court I called them, were otherwise prepared to leave you in your emotional hole. No other prime minister would have survived going missing for that long. But with my help, you were able to."
So much talent, so much anger, so many recriminations. When he presses the button to vaudeville, there's no-one on the political stage quite like Keating. If only he could devote even a small portion of that intellectual prowess to current or important issues, rather than spending his time slagging off at his former colleagues.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

5 thoughts on “That other former Labor leader…

  1. mark

    Dont understand why do you attack Paul on this one. In both situations he was responding to the other’s public utterances.

    And he is quite right to say that it is the person who has attained the public position and then stakes that position on giving voice to a particular stance that should rightly get any bouquets just as they get the brickbats. I’m sure Watson writes a good line but he is a backroom boy and that’s where he should stay.

  2. Rewi Lyall

    Well, actually, he does, doesn’t he?

    Urban planning in Sydney would be one.

    Privacy laws another.

    I’m sure there must be others.

  3. Dr Rapunzel

    Is Crikey suggesting that Paul Keating is less entitled than anyone else to correct perceived inaccuracies in reporting about his time in office because of his personality? Why is that? Surely not because he is feisty, articulate and unapologetic? Damn, an Australian public figure who refuses to fake humility. Unforgiveable.

    History is ultimately created/written from analysis of the public record and what is available of private records, so Mr Keating is forced respond to “the public utterances” ( thanks Mark) that he disagrees with, or contests. If he does not respond he would effectively be endorsing what he considers inaccurate reports. I think in debating this is known as rebuttal.

  4. cairns50

    mr sole subscriber, do not you understand that paul keating is not an elected person any more

    so if he were to start commenting on the issues of the day im sure crikey, not long after the bastards at news limited, they would surely be first, would be one of the news organisations to tell him to shut up

    what mr keating is doing, and what he is entitled to do, is to challenge those who lie or try to besmirch his legacy as a truly great australian prime minister

  5. Truth hurts

    Yeah, but you know, Paul Keating is right…..

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details