Red Kerry’s swansong and Keating’s legacy

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Live from the vestibule, Pope Paul recalls the good ol’ days” (yesterday). Guy Rundle’s critique I believe is of the interview itself. No one can critique Paul Keating because no one got behind the facade the man created.

I liked the interview, and I appreciated Keating’s personally designed mythical persona shining through. Oh, how he must have enjoyed pulling our collective leg in such a grand manner once again.

Make no mistake, Paul Keating is, and was, a one-man wonder. A highly intelligent and extremely sensitive man enclosed in an steel shell of self-preservation. You can’t be the politician he was without the toughest of armour. He is a hard man to know. Anyone who has experienced the exquisite torture of reading Don Watson’s Recollections of a Bleeding Heart will know what I mean.

However, his persona as a politician, much like Gough Whitlam, is quite heroic. These men were absolute “turn-ons”, although I suppose conservative fans would rather think them as something quite different. Anyway, I lapped up his every word, I thrilled at his pithy and amusing sprays and put downs. I also believe he did some good things — and bad things — for Australia.

By the way, for a few years I lived opposite Jack Lang, and although only a little boy I spoke to the grouchy old man when I spied him in his sparse front garden. I actually liked him. Lang, Whitlam and Keating. Not a dish made for the conservative bent. Well, I’m not.

Peter Matters writes: Rundle’s sneer — or not — does not change the fact that the program was not only good television but it also had a ring of truth about it — two qualities that rarely go together. Furthermore, one suspects that Kerry O’Brien intends this program series to be his farewell to the public that has admired him for so long. One would hardly expect him to make his farewell with a presentation that does not ring true.

The unemployment trap

Mike Presland writes: Re. “Being left on the unemployment scrapheap” (yesterday). I read Warren Grzic’s letter in Crikey‘s 13th of November edition and shed a small metaphorical tear for him. I am an experienced and knowledgeable 57-year-old self-employed graphic artist, previously manager of a small design studio, with a similar tale of woe in trying to find a “real” job.

I have had similar problems with recruitment companies, mostly staffed in my extensive experience with 30-year-old women, and have recently given up trying to find employment in my industry.

Even though I am fast spending all of my savings, even to the point of taking 10% of my super out to prop up my income in the short term, there is no help available via Centrelink or any other government entity.

I am a full time father of seven and have a live-in, 18-year-old son, currently doing a degree, to take care of.

Where is the assistance for people like me? Are we now excess to requirements? Is my 42 years of experience now useless?