Draft Keating?


Can a souffle rise twice? or a rich fruitcake with nuts?

Paul Keating used to refer to himself as the Placido Domingo of politics, but judging by last night’s performance on The 7:30 Report his political voice has improved with age and he can justly lay claim to the mantle of Pavarotti at his peak.

If present day federal Labor had someone of PJK’s prodigious communication skills, it would never have been tagged by Howard with the mantle of high  interest rate  party:

KERRY O’BRIEN: Alright, but if you want to see Labor engage in those kind of debates, before they get to that, how does Kim Beazley shake the high interest rate voodoo at the next election that John Howard used so effectively at the last one?

PAUL KEATING: First of all you take him on. John Howard had the highest interest rates in Australian history – 21 per cent bank rates in 1982. What did he leave? He gave us a huge recession and 11 per cent inflation. We had interest rates peaking at 18 per cent, but we came out of it with 1 per cent inflation. I mean, we had stagflation under Howard. We had stagnant growth and inflation.

KERRY O’BRIEN: But you had such a low inflation rate in part because you flattened the economy with the recession.

PAUL KEATING: He did too but he came out with 11 because he had no wages policy, no structural change, no abolition of tariffs, no improvement in trend productivity. And, of course, it’s the low inflation rate – Kerry, the real rate of interest has been 3.5 per cent for 200 years. If the inflation rate is 2.5 per cent add 3.5 to 2.5 and the nominal interest rate is 5 [KP: – actually it’s 6, but who’s counting?]. The reason the housing rates are here now is because of our success in breaking the back of inflation. Howard couldn’t do it, didn’t do it. So why didn’t we take him on on interest rates? Because we were too stupid. That’s why. Too gutless.

Nor would Howard and Costello  be getting away with masquerading as  great economic managers, not only because of the above but because of this:

PAUL KEATING: Well, I think that to win you have to win on the main game, the economy, and you have to take the Government on on the main issues. I mean, what I left John Howard and Peter Costello was the golden circle of economics. 5 per cent per cent for wages, 3 per cent for productivity, leaving 2 per cent for inflation. When I left, trend productivity was twice the level of the previous 25 years. Now we’re back to the previous 25 years. 1 or 1.25 per cent. How do we go now? It leaves 3.5 per cent or 4 per cent for inflation. The central bank governor Ian MacFarlane knows that, that’s why he’s got the screws on now. So here’s a government that’s been in office for a decade, and what’s happened? Trend productivity has gone from 3 per cent to 1.5. Now the national debt – remember the debt truck they had running around in my time. It had $199 billion written on the side of it. It’s now $473 billion. It’s now 51 per cent of GDP. Between 1999 and 2004 there was no investment in Australia, it all went into housing and consumption all borrowed on the current account. When Peter Costello runs around saying, “Oh we’ve paid off the debt.” It’s like the pea and thimble trick. The Government debt or the massive private debt abroad? It’s continuing to grow.

KERRY O’BRIEN: But, you know, you’re saying these are the things that Labor should be engaging in debate with the Government on, but if Kim Beazley was here now and this was a private conversation between the two of you I’m sure part of the conversation would be him saying to you that, “But Paul, whenever we try to engage in economic debate we’ve got the Government saying to us that we’re the high interest rate party, we’re the party that left them with a massive deficit and they sheet that back to you.

PAUL KEATING: Kim’s raised these issues in speeches. He’s raised the current account debt. At what point do the rest of the world say, “Well look Australia, your call on savings goes beyond your domestic savings such that now 51 per cent of your economy is borrowed from abroad. With maturities less than 12 months.” They’re still going to continue to fund that current account with a margin close to US rates. It’s not going to happen. In the end the economy is going to slow up, because fundamentally the Government’s done nothing about the real debt. I don’t mean the easy debt the one you pay off with Telstra sales. I don’t mean that one. I’m talking about the real one, the elephant  under the carpet one.

No current politician on either side can hold a candle to Keating as an effective political communicator, able to convey complex economic concepts in graphic terms everyone can understand.   The elephant under the carpet ranks right up there with the banana republic.

Keating’s proposed policy prescriptions for today are also worth highlighting.   On returning surpluse revenue to the community without fuelling inflation or interest rate rises  (which you’d  have to predict  as a result of Costello’s forthcoming budget if the leaks are accurate):

KERRY O’BRIEN: With the little time that we’ve got left I want to make the most of it. When you hear of Costello surpluses as big potentially as $17 billion, do you feel any envy? What would you do with a surplus like that today?

PAUL KEATING: If you didn’t want to add to spending as Chris Richardson said in your piece, but you had the surplus, I’d pay the tax cuts as savings into superannuation accounts. Under the scheme I set up we’re at 9 per cent of wages, we should be at 12 or 15, at least 12. So if we paid the tax cuts into super accounts, a) they wouldn’t be spent, b) they’d be preserved till age 65 and we’re a national savings safist (?), on the cabinet room table with all those National Party characters trying to spend it or in people’s super accounts locked up to 65. That’s what I’d do with the money.

The question I would have liked to see O’Brien ask Keating was whether, if he had his political time over again, he would have chosen to pay those “L-A-W law” tax cuts as superannuation rather than renege on them entirely.   It was that betrayal and dishonesty more than any other single action that doomed Keating’s prime ministership.   Of course, Howard has told many equally big  political porkies  subsequently (children overboard, Australia’s commitment to the Iraq war, AWB etc), but none has impacted ordinary people directly in the way Keating’s broken tax promise did.

Keating’s future tax prescriptions are equally interesting.   He was a bit more elliptical about this, but he seems to be suggesting that the top two marginal rates for individual taxpayers be reduced to around 35% while the corporate rate and CGT should be increased to that same 35%.   It sounds to me like an eminently saleable and economically responsible idea.

Here’s a man still pulsing with ideas, passion and conviction,   unquestionably the greatest economic reformer in Australia’s history (not that there’s much competition).   Howard and Costello have coasted along on Keating’s formidable coat-tails ever since 1996, mostly asleep at the wheel as Keating says.   And Beazley, Crean and Latham have let them get away with it.  

Here’s a radical left-field suggestion.   Draft Keating back into Parliament and the Labor leadership via a safe seat and an engineered by-election.   Labor certainly isn’t going to get within coo-ee of victory next time with any of the current batch of pretenders  to the top job.   What have they got to lose?   Keating would put the economy and Howard/Costello’s failures front and centre of the policy debate, and apply the blowtorch to their bellies in a way that the circumlocuting Beazley could never manage.   And I reckon he could convince the people of what is unquestionably the truth: that the almost 15 years of unparalleled growth and prosperity Australia has enjoyed are very largely a result of the courageous economic reforms  over which  Keating presided.

I was going to couch this post in terms of Keating as a classic Shakespearean tragic hero, brought undone by his own fatal flaw/s: the fatal misjudgment over “L-A-W law” and the cumulative misjudgment of focusing on third order “flick the switch to vaudeville” policies once he had seized the leadership mantle from Bob Hawke.   Reconciliation, the republic debate, engineering APEC etc.   It was this sort of stuff that caused then ALP National Secretary Gary Grey to christen Keating “Captain Wacky” in the run-up to the 1996 election.   But if Keating had a wacky phase it’s long gone and replaced by an unmatched  mature but still passionate grasp of Australian politics.   Draft PJK!   Experiencing Keating’s leadership would no doubt still be like watching a high wire act without a safety net, but they’d be exciting times, and  I reckon he’s the only politician capable of skewering Howard’s pretensions and exposing him  decisively  as the tawdry, divisive  little Nixonian crook that he is.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic at Charles Darwin University, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law) and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 12 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in he early 1990s.
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34 Responses to Draft Keating?

  1. Homer Paxton says:

    err Ken those LAW tax cuts were Superannuation payments making the SGC 12 %, add in another 3% from workers and you get 15% which everyone believes is the right figure.

    Howard/Costello promised to maintain the Super payments reneged on this and changed them to some meaningless savings measure and then stopped them completely.
    Probably the worst piece of public policy seen in the last 25 years

  2. Jacques Chester says:

    He was a fascinating and complex PM, Ken, no doubt of it. But I think that he was sunk by his determination to find a colourful phrase for everything: “the recession we had to have”, while actually truthful, was nightmarishly dangerous in opposition hands.

    Quite honestly, I’d love PJK to come back to Labor. He is the greatest Parliamentary fighter of this generation and our two-party system needs some proper Opposition.

  3. Ken Parish says:


    I don’t remember the precise details, but I think you’re right that a proportion of the LAW law tax cuts were in fact delivered as super, but a considerable proportion just weren’t delivered at all. I wonder whether, with the benefit of hidsight, keating would now think he should have delivered ALL of the promised cuts at the time, but as superannuation.

  4. Ken, I agree with you about the language and the forcefulness of Keating’s appearances on the tele. But I’m afraid I don’t agree with your political prognosis at all. Every big election result gets mythologised – often by the winners. I think it’s a very conveninent myth that Keating got ousted because of esoteric policy. I’ve always thought that he didn’t really have much policy as PM – Asia was pretty much the same as Hawkie, Aborigines was foisted upon him by the Mabo decision. And the republic? Well I’d give him that. When he first began on it, I thought it was electoral poison, but it worked well for him in wedging his opponents.

    Obviously the LAW tax cuts didn’t help, but politicians can move on from there – Howard did in 1996, Hawke did in 1983.

    I think the problem is a quite different one. The Australian people didn’t like Keating. They admired his talent but disliked his aggression and arrogance. Not unlike Whitlam. That doesn’t mean that his position was hopeless in 1996. Far from it. It meant that he needed to edit the personality he showed the Australian people more, and he needed to show some contrition, some fellow feeling with them. That’s something he couldn’t do.

    He was so busy fighting his opposition he didn’t realise that, as PM, that’s not your day job. That is relating to the Oz people and even trying to appear ‘above politics. Howard and Hawke did this well. Beattie does it well too though his contrition routine is a bit too well worn at this stage. Too many things to be contrite about.

    Keating could still be PM today, and he’d not have had to back off on aborigines or Asia or the republic if he’d learned the art of the odd bit of contrition and humility, curbing his arrogance and agression and presenting his personality to the people with a large dose of what they wanted and bit of serious editing out of what they didn’t like – like any pollie worth his salt – Clinton, Howard, Hawke, Wran.

    It’s not rocket science. Just don’t rub the electorate’s nose in it.

  5. Geoff Honnor says:

    I’m not sure I agree on L-A-W, specifically, as the major reason for his downfall. Basically, voters thought he was totally up himself and pretty contemptuous of them and their concerns. Kennett came to grief for pretty much the same reasons. Howard’s ever so ‘umble approach is carefully crafted…..

    People don’t want some dude who touts himself as the world’s greatest economic whizzbang. They want results. It’s been Howard/Costello’s great good fortune to have been the beneficiaries thereof.

    I agree with Jacques on the fascination and complexity front but as Don Watson pointed out in “…Bleeding Heart” PJK was over-inclined to dwell on his own magnificence…

    It was good to see him with Kezza again but – was it just me or is he suddenly old?

  6. Vee says:

    Bring back Paul has been around a while and so has Bring back Jeff and they both resurface recently – what’s really going on?

    I concur with Keating and Ken and didn’t understand why Labor didn’t go head to head on that economy about inflation, interest, etc but wouldn’t it be suicide to do it next election? Isn’t it too far into the recesses of our memory now, the Howard treasury days?

  7. Ken Parish says:

    Geoff and Nicholas

    Yes, I think you’re right that his inability fake humility was a key reason for his downfall (although I still say the L-A-W law cuts were also critically important). And Howard is indeed a past master of the humble “ordinary little bloke” act. I wonder whether Keating HAS learnt that lesson at this late stage? It would have been another fascinating question Red Kezza could have asked him. If he hasn’t learnt it, then the Shakespearean fatal flaw theory is even more apt. You’d reckon a decent playwright could have a marvellous time crafting a Keating play (although it would need to be a bit more arch, cynical and self-aware than a Shakespeaean tragedy to suit modern tastes).

    BTW Keating is only 62, 3 years younger than Howard. He’s plenty young enough for another crack at politics if so inclined. Actually, he’s exactly the same age as Billy McMahon was when he assumed the prime ministership, which isn’t really my best argument. But you know what i mean.

  8. Conrad Adenauer is the example you’re looking for going well into his eigthties!

    Churchill in the 50s was another, though he was clearly a bit past it.

  9. Homer Paxton says:

    Nichoals is wrong.

    Keating was always gone after raising indirect taxes in the budget following the election by more than that proposed in fightback!

    Ken it was ALL of the LAW tax cuts

  10. Guido says:

    I loved seeing PK last night. As you say in your post Ken, he was clear and able to sound so secure in his subject.

    But alas his time has passed. Not because he could not be a great Prime Minister, because he could. But because it would be easy to drag all the stuff that made people not like him in the first place, and for those voters who were below 18 in 1996 Keating would not be enough to make them want to change the status quo.

    I must admit that people like Kennett and Keating really lit up the political landscape.

    Not like the ‘safe’ but bland and boring blancmanges that we seem to have as political leaders at the moment.

  11. James Hamilton says:

    Terrible terrible man. I could type away and sound exactly like Howard’s critics :…ugly ideology, small and bitter..embarrassed to be Australian… depressing future for the country blah blah.

    None of that’s to say I was not interested in what he had to say and am unwilling to concede what is rightfully his as an an economic legacy (that would be not nearly as much as the puffed peasant would demand of course). And it’s not to say I did not find his views on what Labor needed to do to get into power compelling.

    I just hate him.

    And I wonder how much of Howard 1 vs Keting vs Howard 2 on the economic front was down to the fact that we are all better at running countries having learned from our predecessors successes and failure?

  12. Sedgwick says:

    No matter what, the not so very old lad’s still a class act.

    His throwing the switch to vaudeville is/was and will always be a cut above the current flea circus and its cast of itchy-scratchy pygmies.

    Kim, view and weep.

  13. wpd says:

    Yes he did look older and he has gone grey as well. That is what happens when you stay alive. You get older.

    While I was never a great fan of Keating, his ability to communicate is sadly lacking in the ALP at the moment.

    Also, while I have my historical difficulties with Rudd, he is the hope of the side when it comes to ridding us of the “lying rodent” (Brandis et al”

    The question is when.

  14. Scott Wickstein says:

    I have to say Ken, such cheersquading is beneath you. I can understand your frustration but you can do much better then this. Have a bex and a good lie down.

    Let’s give the guy credit where it is due- his economic reforms as Treasurer were necessary, well done and were indeed vital to Australia’s prosperity. In contrast to Howard’s treasury stewardship, his record is indeed superior.

    However what is not often mentioned even by Howard’s defenders, is that as Treasurer, Howard got precious little support for a reform agenda from Malcolm Fraser. Whereas Keating could always rely on the ‘consensus’ building skills of Hawke as Prime Minister to help advance his agenda.

    I think that point is often overlooked, and understandably so by Keating’s admirers. However, just ask Peter Costello how easy it is to do anything that a Prime Minister isn’t willing to support.

    And it was the 1980’s that were the years of economic reform in Australia- as Prime Minister, Keating was rarely interested in promoting economic reforms. Perhaps it is understandable that after a stint as Treasurer, he wanted to cast his gaze at wider horizons. But far too much of the credit goes to Keating, and not enough to Hawke.

    After all, after five years as ALP leader, he hardly left his party in great shape, did he?

    It behoves us to be cautious about over-eulogising guys like Keating; he was hardly brave about tackling the vested interest in his own ranks, was he? Like most politicians, he admired courage from a safe distance.

    Since 1996, the government has had a patchy, at best, record on economic reform. As economic managers, they’ve done alright. Eleven years of solid growth can’t soley be sheeted to the previous regime, no matter what Ken might like to think. But on reform, the sensitive political nose has caused Howard to shy away when boldness might have been more appropriate. And since 1996 the ALP has been resolute in opposition, and proposed nothing else then the status quo. They were quite happy to leave us with the crazy patchwork of indirect taxes from the mid-20th century, and they are quite happy to leave us with a mid 20th century industrial relations system, too. They’ve opposed privatisation without ever coming up with a even moderately sensible reason why on earth the goverment should own a telephone company.

    Thanks to such sensible opposition, Telstra’s value is getting eroded to shit by new technologies and leaving taxpayers with a very rapidly diminishing baby.

    Now, that’s fine. Oppositions can say that thats what they are there for. But the ALP can’t have it both ways and say that they are for economic reform and change when they oppose every change, many of which they started (privatisation) or advocated (indirect tax reform) while they were in government.

  15. Patrick says:

    That’s an excellent point. On one hand, the only chance labor have getting the likes of me to vote for them is the reform argument that KP sets out. OTOH, the only way to sustain the morons they seem to consider their base is seemingly to repudiate anything that might actually attract voters.

    I’m watching their tax reform argument, for now. We’ll see where that goes.

  16. Thomas Wertheim says:

    Bring him back,and without any doubt in my mind,neither John Howard or Peter Costello will stand a chance against Paul Keating.COME BACK PAUL KEATING.

  17. Paul Watson says:

    I’m surprised that no one (so far) has picked Keating up on these two misrepresentations:

    “Not with inflation [c. 1989] at 11 per cent and property prices running at 21 or 22. Property prices were running ahead of the inflation rate. If I had let it go, we would have had wages [spiralling upwards]”


    “Under the [superannuation] scheme I set up we’re at 9 per cent of wages, we should be at 12 or 15, at least 12. So if we paid the tax cuts into super accounts . . . they’d be preserved till age 65”.

    Both comments show what a boomer (despite being born 1944) hypocrite and weasel Keating is.

    So “property prices were running ahead of the inflation rate [in the late 80s]”? Um, like they *haven’t* been for most of the last decade? Oh I get it: Hawke/Keating smashed the unions in the 80s, so much so that wage inflation (except at the upper end, of course) would never trouble economic policy-setters again. And as a special bonus, by engineering a “hard-landing”

  18. Dr Troppo says:

    I’m getting very tired of the theory that the ALP loses federal elections because it hasn’t found the right leader.

    And it’s insane to think that Howard won in 1996 and has kept winning because he has charisma or super-natural campaigning ability.

    If the economy is going well — if your job is secure, your home worth twice what you paid for it and interest rates are low then, if you’re a swing voter, you need a pretty good reason to switch parties. Tedious arguments about historical interest rates won’t work because most voters will change channels before you get to the punchline.

    Sooner or later the economic situation will change and Labor will win an election. Then we’ll all have to listen to more idiotic drivel about how the leader (whoever it happens to be) is a genius.

  19. david tiley says:

    So Whitlam wasn’t responsible for the 1972 election?

    I agree that we don’t need god-kings in charge of parties. But if we get buffoons, or perceived buffoons, then we end up in the dire mess we had in the late ’60s when the government was terrible but the ALP couldn’t muster sufficient confidence in the electorate to replace it.

    (I say that as a secret fan of Gorton. but the others were beyond ridicule).

  20. Ken Parish says:

    Dr T

    What David said. And there wasn’t a recession in 1996 either, although Keating had certainly been blamed for one that cocurred only 2 or 3 years before (although if he’d really been blamed to such a huge extent then he wouldn’t have won the 1993 election despite Fightback. So I don’t think it’s self-evidently true that oppositions can only win when governments hit bad economic times, although that certainly helps.

    While Labor doesn’t unavoidably need a God leader to succeed, it certainly needs someone with higher order political communication skills than either Beazley or Crean possess. Latham potentially had them, but had problems with his political judgment and erratic personality.

  21. Geoff Honnor says:

    “Latham potentially had them, but had problems with his political judgment and erratic personality.”

    Or as a grade 1 teacher might report: “Mark shows real promise but must learn to curb his tendency to dismember the dolls of his female classmates with his teeth and violently shove the remnants into the orifices of his fellow students.”

  22. If nothiing else PJK showed that a real Australian male can, and should, look good in a made to measure well cut Super 150’s Extra Fine Merino Wool suit.

    Without PJK’s standard setting JWH would be strutting the stage in a polyester short sleeved beige safari suit.

    PJK’s legacy will stand for ever.

  23. I agree with Dr T 100%. I get so sick of the media’s retrospective rationalisation of whatever happened as the work of the genius of the winner. (Though I wonder about Dr T. Was this the real Dr T, or an impostor? Where is Dr T’s secretary. Why is there no gratuitous rudeness?)

    I also agree with most of Scott Wickstein except the bit about how Howard and Costello must be pretty good economic managers because it’s been eleven years now. They haven’t done anything too stupid on the economy. Nothing of Whitlamesque proportions. But that’s it.

    They’ve done nothing of Hawkesque proportions though I agree, Keating PM was no great shakes as an economic manager.

    They inherited productivity going through the roof, the RBA’s good luck and good judgement got them through the Asian crisis, and likewise the tech wreck and now with productivity crawling along, they’ve got a massive mineral boom. Most of us would like to have luck like that.

    The Libs have been OK economic managers, but Saul Eslake is on the money on this one.

    “The resources boom has dropped $100 billion into the Government’s lap that they hadn’t expected in 2002 and they’ve spent all of it and a bit more,” Mr Eslake says. “And I honestly and genuinely struggle to find anything that has been done with it bar win elections.”

  24. Scott Wickstein says:

    Who said democracy was cheap?

  25. Ken Parish says:

    You don’t have to believe that a leader with the magical qualities of a God is indispensable for Labor to win in order to conclude that Beazley doesn’t have what it takes and that Labor needs someone with higher order communication and strategic skills (at least in order to wrest government from the Tories this side of the next major recession, which could conceivably be quite a long way off yet).

    I agree that Keating took his eye off the ball to a considerable extent on economic reform (and strategic political skills) once he became PM and won the “unwinnable” election in 1993, but does that mean that hubris and inability to disguise arrogance are ineradicable fatal flaws or that he hasn’t learnt his lesson? I don’t know, but an interviewer with more time and subtlety than Kerry O’Brien might have winkled it out of him. I’d love to see Andrew Denton interview PJK on Enough Rope.

  26. Scott Wickstein says:

    The impression I got from Latham’s Diaries (admittedly not the best source in the world) is that PK’s virtues and vices have got stronger, not weaker, with age.

    Thomas Wertheim thinks that PK is some great vote winner. I wonder why?

    If you are a swinging voter in Adelaide, why exactly would you vote for PK, who neither knows nor cares anything about us? Remember this is a guy that thinks Australia starts at Manly and finishes at Cronulla. All else is ‘terra incognita’

  27. Dr Troppo says:

    Mr Tiley – If Gough Whitlam deserves credit for beating the charismatic and gifted Billy McMahon in 72 then he also deserves credit for losing so spectacularly in 75.

    Dr Gruen – My remarks are never gratuitous. If people are offended at receiving objective facts about their own lives that hardly my concern.

    Mr Parish – Considering that the number one issue on the agenda was national security, Labor came very close to winning against the Coalition when Beazley was leader.

    The fact that Mr Beasley has the communication abilities of an overfed labrador seemed not to matter.

  28. Homer Paxton says:

    in 1972 Whitlam won with the smallest swing in political history against an opponent Dr Troppo has spoken well of.

    both the government and the opposition are merely cargo cultists.

    when commodity prices start to fall look out.
    By the way Nick what did you think of those company tax projections?

    The IR laws will bite and bomber needs to hang in there. When they win government we need to hope treasury will be able to guide them well.

  29. Patrick says:

    The IR laws will bite – does anyone really believe this? Even Tim Dunlop seems more concerned to ‘make’ them bite, media-wise and vote-wise, than with any actual fear that they will.

  30. jen says:

    Democracy loves the ordinary little man who doesn’t get above himself or anyone else. And Australian voters feel comfortable with the mean minded O great tiny one who licks assiduously at the kneecaps of great men like Eddie McGuire. I hate citizens.

  31. what the says:

    He looked not only old (hardly a crime) but not quite as sharp as he once was. We definitely missed out on a few irreplaceably good years with PJK which I think is a great pity.

    but jen your comment above, facetious or not, is exactly why I dont vote for the ALP, although that certainly was not the case once upon a time in terms of PJK.

    The ALP hates people and belittles them for their electoral choice. It whinges and blames the voting population for being stupid, being taken in, being bought off etc etc ad nauseam everytime the stupid party loses. What if the voters dont actually hold the same views as the ALP which explains their voting patterns. No the party is more improtant the people…

    That’s kind of annoying to say the least but the old people’s party comes out looking like the stupid one not us when it trots out its regular whiny sore loser post-election commentary.

    Most people won’t vote for it AGAIN until it and its reactionary followers stop abusing everyone after the fact as “stupid” or as “bribeable groups” (viz. road to surfdom) and worth ‘hating’ for goodness sake! Some believer in the people it turned out to be.

  32. Peter Fuller says:

    Homer P. has alluded to the small swing obtained by Whitlam in 1972. True (1.5%), but misleading as it came on the back of his 7.1% swing in 1969.
    Whitlam’s achievement was to revive a comatose Labor Party, and in doing so provided at least one model for an Opposition to win. Note that in 1969, the economy was in pretty sound shape.

  33. Julien says:

    I’d love to see Keating return to politics but could he take on Howards spin of high intrest rates,unemployment etc etc…

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