Leadership

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“Paul Keating is the greatest Australian Prime Minister since Federation”. Discuss.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

Incorrect. John Howard is the greatest Australian Prime Minister since Federation.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

the only disagreement from me is that Bob Hawke should share the credit too. a lot of the best stuff that keating did was facilitated by his partnership with hawke who was the popular front man able to carry the masses along. once keating went solo this collapsed

Fyodor
2022 years ago

Jason’s right. Most of the good stuff happened on Hawkie’s watch. I vote PK for best treasurer. His turn as PM was disappointing in comparison.

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
2022 years ago

People tend to underestimate how much economic reform occurred under Keating as PM. Competition policy reform was a big achievement, major privatisations started then, and there was continued improvement in trade and IR policy. I’d rate the Hawke-Keating term fairly highly, but the errors leading to the severity of the early 1990s recession put Menzies and Howard back in the race. Both Liberal leaders were/are mediocre on the policy front, but there is a lot to be said for not making serious mistakes.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

A Prime Minister must be a great politician. Keating was a lousy politician. He never looked beyond his own constituencies, so when he was defeated, his enemies found it easy to reverse his work, especially work that was not economically related.

A policy wonk, his only electorial victory was when he was up against a more extreme policy wonk. When he went up against a crafty politician he was crushed.

A vain man who asked what Australia could do for him, I think he could be put down as one of the ‘might have beens’ of Australian history.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

A ruthless political operator with an enormous political horizon but undisciplined – a dilettante in many ways. Ultimately, he was perceived to exude a contempt for Joe Punter which was reciprocated in spades. He remains popular amongst the innerurbanati (ironically – he didn’t like them particularly) but that probably says it all. Hawke was a much more successful PM, and I agree that the Hawke/PJK combo was central to that. However, John Curtin is the greatest PM since federation.

Peter Kemp
Peter Kemp
2022 years ago

Most of the economic success claimed by John Howard in recent years stemmed from the economic reforms of the Hawke/PJK combo. I wouldn’t say PJK was the best PM ever, but as treasurer and reformer, he was light years ahead of the conservatives.

Perhaps as PM his legacy in Asian engagement stands out the most. I believe he really had empathy with our Asian neighbours. Too close to the dictator Suharto maybe, but then again he used Suharto as an Asean leverage to advance Australia’s interests.

If one agrees that Australia had not yet found its identity, PJK offered us the best hope of moulding it as part of Asia ”the odd man in”— a distinct visionary approach that has far more merit than condescending Anglophile beliefs and nostalgia for the Menzian fifties, (represented by PJK in 2002 as the Howardian rule of ”nothingness”.)

It is the Asian legacy of PJK which will ultimately (post Howard) be vindicated and for this I put him on a par with Bob Hawke and ahead of all liberal leaders who with Fraser as the exemplar, had the biggest mandates but did s.f.a. in the way of far reaching reforms.

Tony.T
2022 years ago

Scumbag!

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

Paul Keating led his own conga-line of suckholes around to lick the arses of each SE Asian dictator in turn. Hardly something for which to be remembered.

Howard, on the other hand, gets what he wants in the region — from the liberation of East Timor to the Pacific Solution, his quiet diplomacy has accomplished more than all of Keating’s kowtowing.

Fyodor
2022 years ago

Evil Pee,

Funny, I thought it was the East Timorese who wanted to be liberated. Howard studiously gave SFA about their plight until things got nasty.

The “Pacific Solution” went down a treat if you classify bribing third world countries to gaol your non-criminals as a success for “quiet diplomacy”. I suppose it was a superior result to his “loud diplomacy”, i.e. threatening to bomb the neighbours. Yeah, that was a huge success up North.

As far as fawning sycophants go, you can’t beat the Rodent’s attachment to Dubya’s bush. PK doesn’t come close to matching Howard’s servile catamite.

alphacoward
2022 years ago

Keating definately got more done on the economic front then the conservatives have.

Including a little too much focus on fixing trade defecits.

Multicultralism was key to his tenure. It would have irratated all those KKK right wingers no end.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

agree with Jason Soon, Peter Kemp etal.
Hawke and Keating were the best team the nation has had bar none given the difficulties they inherited.
They were by nno means without mistakes. Keating came to be PM to late and without a keating type treasurer.

Menzies was hopeless. He left an industrial museum and lots and lots of restricted trade practices around. However he didn’t understand economics so got wood-ducked by Black Jack.

Try reading Howard’s speech to Suharto the first time he visited Indonesia. a lot of suckholing there.

curting can’t be comapred as wartime PMs are different to peacetime. Just look at Churchill.
Fantastice during the war. Mad during peacetime. Damned fine cigars though!

Robert Patterson
Robert Patterson
2022 years ago

Some have lauded howard who in my eyes is a lying, divisive, deceitful, arrogant almost corrupt (hasn’t been proven yet) rodent. Watch the “man??” on TV he is always looking for the camera. It was most evident when he finished hugging the Indonesian leader recently – just watch the rodent watching for the camera.

niqueline
niqueline
2022 years ago

PK was at his best in his piggery…always full of shit…like all lefties in this blog !

alphacoward
2022 years ago

niqueline how insightful – what got you so negative?

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Keating was a far more right wing treasurer than Costello ever has been and he understood basic budgetary costings.
mind you Costello didn’t need to be all that right wing given what Hawke/ Keating did.

Phil
2022 years ago

As someone late to the party as far as living in Oz goes, my observation is that Hawk/Keating, then Keating was as good as it gets, all the big reforms and a bit of social empathy thrown in.

I also like my PM’s to have some star power, it goes well with the job. Like Trudeau, Canada’s greatest PM no matter what the right says.

Polly
Polly
2022 years ago

I always enjoyed Keating for the way he could use the language – it was rarely boring.
Can’t stand Howard’s performance – all those pauses mid sentence where there shouldn’t be one drive me nuts.
It always amuses me when Keating gets bagged for his “recession we had to have” comments – because it was true we were going to have a recession and there was nothing the government could have done to prevent it. Just like there will be nothing the government can do to prevent the next recession.

Peter Kemp
Peter Kemp
2022 years ago

Niqeuline: So floating the dollar, dismantling the protectionist wall of lazy home grown manufacturing dinosaurs and making Australia more internationally competitive was ”full of shit” was it?

Taking the ”firehose out to wash out the sludge of Australia’s international relations” from Whitlam carried on by Hawke/Keating doesn’t ring any bells? Who visited China when Mc Mahon was whining on about the perfidy of the communist world? Where’s the business today Niqueline and who recognised its potential first?

Who had the guts to put Australia on the world map as an independent voice ( as distinct to being merely an American puppet under Howard)? It was the Labor party and Keating played his part, in that tradition, in his time, as innovative, a visionary who espoused a unique independent Australian point of view and he had BALLS, sometimes wrong but he made me proud to be Australian.

The b.s. epithet could more productively be used against the gutless wonders such as Fraser and most liberal governments who clung to the old outdated anachronistic Anglophile verities and despite large mandates did SFA for reforming Australia, economically, in foreign relations or otherwise.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Peter, I’m one of those who is surprised at the amount of credibility Fraser now seems to enjoy.

Darlene
2022 years ago

Nope. Bob Hawke. Is that a passing mark?

Two more words and I’d have an honours degree.

Regarding Malcolm Fraser, it seems his ability to link up with some issues that are popular with certain sections of the population has allowed him to transcend his past and other attitudes he might still possess. It’s indicative of the triumph of the easy ‘moral’ statement (for example, “I care about refugees”) over substance.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Darlene, I’m not so sure. I have no doubt that Fraser’s statements reflect genuine beliefs. His record on Zimbabwe and apartheid was exemplary – while Howard was refusing to condemn South Africa. What troubles me more is that people don’t understand the nature of genuine conservatism (which I think Big Mal epitomises) and want to pigeonhole him in with the “left”. First, we could do with some more conservatives in public life and debate, and secondly, it indicates the trivial polarisation of any substantive contribution as if it can be dismissed if it comes from “one side”.

Peter Kemp
Peter Kemp
2022 years ago

Mark B., Fraser’s saving grace, (in contrast to his thoroughly disloyal slimy treasurer, and race-card-player, now PM) was the compassionate but moral/legal obligation to accept the Vietnamese refugees who arrived here in droves after Saigon fell.

In some way, this record tends to obscure his failings as per my previous post, but certainly makes his opposition to Howard’s disgraceful behaviour Tampa (et al) credible. His support is indeed surprising nonetheless.

Truth be known, Gorton was far more a compassionate reformer than Fraser; long before becoming PM he steered through the Senate the Menzies government’s legislation on Divorce law reform (ridding us of archaic 19th century ideas) and did it with the style, knowledge, wit and panache of a top QC. As a relatively impoverished orange farmer, Gorton had it hard apart from smashing up his face in a Hurricane fighter on Bintan Island (near Singapore) in 1942. Fraser always was, and is, silver spoon material who’s hardest job it seemed was throwing a fishing line into the water at Nareen, the family property.

Peter Kemp
Peter Kemp
2022 years ago

I would argue that Gorton was the last ”wet” liberal/conservative PM and Fraser a ”dry” who largely tolerated the welfare paradigm based on the stability aspect of traditional conservative UK thought from post WW2 Keynesian policy.

Billy McMahon doesn’t rate a mention, the ”Tiberius of the Telephone and the Augustus of the Autocue” : all speeches sounding the same high pitched querilous whine ie ”ber berr, b. b. berrr….” Met him once at St Pauls College: he said that gays were that way because of heriditary reasons—have always wondered since, in his case, if that was mitigation!!!

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

sorry, i really can’t see fraser as a dry. and no, he really hasn’t changed at all. fraser is and always will be a High Tory along the lines of, say, Disraeli – in many ways like Robert Manne who really hasn’t changed either. his recent line on refugees and South Africa is quite consistent with a High Tory aversion to the sort of Poujadist populism which is the other face of conservatism exemplified by John Winston Howard combined with an old world view on maintaining a respectable ‘face’ in international relations . His views on Aboriginal rights too could be seen as consistent with a High Tory acknowledgement of history.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I agree with Jason. Fraser always has been an entirely conventional embodiment of his class. To Fraser, Howard is a declasse, vulgarian usurper of the born-to-rule tradition. In Fraser’s world, one cultivates the aura of noblesse oblige statesmanship as cultural obligation. A touch more Lord Salisbury than Disraeli perhaps ……

But he knew a thing or two about “thoroughly disloyal” himself, to which John Gorton would vociferously attest up until the day he died.

Ptah-Khnemu
Ptah-Khnemu
2022 years ago

Keating did the really hard slog that has allowed us to be Auatralia instead of Argentina.
The man who built the company istead of running a franchise (read Costello).

Now that it is done, conservative dogs like to pretend it would always have been that way because the libs supported the reforms that were made under Hawke and Keating, forgetting Howard shirked every major and necessary reform during his tenor as tresurer.

Time at the crease is not a determinant of greatness as a PM.

Would anyone seriously argue that a Boycott innings is better than a Gilchrist one?

Keating was a visionary architect, howard pisses on posts like a mangy dog.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Both Jason and Geoff are on the money with regard to Fraser. The analogy with Disraeli is quite good.

howard is not a bad PM however he can never be great becasue he has had nothing much to do. for that he should profoundly thaank Hawke and Keating.

Steve Edwards
Steve Edwards
2022 years ago

Hawke was definitely one of the finest PMs, in that he created a constituency for reform and roughly held it. He carried public opinion along with him on many issues and was generally quite prudent. Hawke’s legacy has been enduring. That puts him in the top three at least.

Keating, by contrast, was a catastrophe, both for the Labor Party and for the country. The Labor Party has not recovered from his tenure, and may yet be in opposition for some years to come. He did not (either immediately or ultimately) carry the public with any of his major “visions”, and subsequently, his long term impact will be negligible. He presided over the most unpopular immigration policies in at least three and a half decades (and most certainly more). At a time when 1 million people could not find gainful employment, he decided that the most pressing issues of public policy were to change the constitution and the flag.

The whites got to hear about the constitution and the flag, and the blacks got to hear about native title. Neither of these issues had any utility for those living in deprivation. Native title was certainly a catastrophe in that it communicated to the indigenes that they need not be relevant to the modern economy, and can instead live in the half-way house of government programmes and regional isolation.

By compounding the injury of the recession, with the insults I’ve detailed above, Keating managed to derail the very reform constituency he presided over in the 1980s, and in turn became one of the most unpopular Prime Ministers in living memory. When Pauline Hanson rose to give her maiden speech in late 1996, every one of her barbs was directed at some manifestation of Keatingism, and her tide has only gone out since 2001.

Howard, by contrast, has been a more cautious reformer than Hawke, and perhaps about as popular. We now tend to prioritise the meaningful over the symbolic in public debate, whatever the merits of the opposing positions. We cannot judge Howard accurately, because he might stick around yet. He is probably still behind Hawke.

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

Keating was crap, and we’re well rid of him.

A “great” PM doesn’t get thrown out on his ear at his first re-election attempt.

The voters have passed their judgement on this arrogant nobody. He’ll be a footnote in the history of the Howard Years that saw Australia rise to international prominence.

Steve Edwards
Steve Edwards
2022 years ago

Hawke was definitely one of the finest PMs, in that he created a constituency for reform and roughly held it. He carried public opinion along with him on many issues and was generally quite prudent. Hawke’s legacy has been enduring. That puts him in the top three at least.

Keating, by contrast, was a catastrophe, both for the Labor Party and for the country. The Labor Party has not recovered from his tenure, and may yet be in opposition for some years to come. He did not (either immediately or ultimately) carry the public with any of his major “visions”, and subsequently, his long term impact will be negligible. He presided over the most unpopular immigration policies in at least three and a half decades (and most certainly more). At a time when 1 million people could not find gainful employment, he decided that the most pressing issues of public policy were to change the constitution and the flag.

The whites got to hear about the constitution and the flag, and the blacks got to hear about native title. Neither of these issues had any utility for those living in deprivation. Native title was certainly a catastrophe in that it communicated to the indigenes that they need not be relevant to the modern economy, and can instead live in the half-way house of government programmes and regional isolation.

By compounding the injury of the recession, with the insults I’ve detailed above, Keating managed to derail the very reform constituency he presided over in the 1980s, and in turn became one of the most unpopular Prime Ministers in living memory. When Pauline Hanson rose to give her maiden speech in late 1996, every one of her barbs was directed at some manifestation of Keatingism, and her tide has only gone out since 2001.

Howard, by contrast, has been a more cautious reformer than Hawke, and perhaps about as popular. We now tend to prioritise the meaningful over the symbolic in public debate, whatever the merits of the opposing positions. We cannot judge Howard accurately, because he might stick around yet. He is probably still behind Hawke.

Peter Kemp
Peter Kemp
2022 years ago

Steve E., if you are going to argue against native title it would be reasonable to mention the fact that this was the ”greatest curved ball” ever presented by the High Court of Australia to any government.

Your implied assertion that this was the personal creation of Keating is misleading to say the least and says nothing of state legislation that followed.

Since when was criticism by Pauline Hansen of Keating the prime directive of Australian politics?

EP: Why don’t you read some of the above posts and constructively criticise them instead of the the two sentence slag-off? Micro economic reform, floating the dollar was all John Howard’s work obviously !!!

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

Because I don’t give two hoots about microeconomic reform or floating the dollar.

To me, Keating is a PM who was elected purely on the basis that he was not John Hewson. Halfway through his victory speech, I already regretted voting for the little dickhead.

Keating brought us political censorship, feminazi bureaucracies, arselicking to every petty dictator between Darwin and China, the black armband view of Australian history, self-hatred, recession, and a general concerted attempt to remake the country in his own twisted image.

He was one of our worst PMs, and he should be remembered as such — lest we see the likes of him again.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Just came across a good quote from the immortal PJK, who should be welcomed back with open arms!

“The problem for the Howards and the Blaineys is that their story is simply not big enough for Australia. No great transformation can come from their tiny view of us and their limited faith in us. Their failure is not simply one of crabbiness or rancour; it’s a failure of imagination, a failure to read our historical co-ordinates correctly but usefully to move to a bigger construct, a bigger picture as to who we are and what we can be. That’s the real job of political leadership. Their timidity not only diminishes their own horizon, it is a drag on the rest of us. The country always has to make its progress despite them. They never help. They have always to be dragged along and they will only accept a new norm when someone else has struggled to put it into place.”

Steve Edwards
Steve Edwards
2022 years ago

The High Court was very entrepreneurial in applying the standards of the Torres Strait over the entire continent, but that does not imply that any configuration of the Native Title Act is “correct”, particularly as it was amended countless times in the weeks following its passage. Keating should probably have ignored the High Court rather than compounding an already damaging policy trend.

Whether Pauline Hanson is, in herself, worth heeding is neither here nor there. Pauline was not the only “maverick” in 1996. There was Graeme Campbell and Bob Katter, too, all of whom enjoyed massive swings. The real issue was that Hanson had an unusually high degree of public support, and did enormous damage to the cause of economic reform. Paul Keating’s terrible conduct in the early to mid 90s played a large part in letting out the Hanson genie.

Evil Pundit writes:

“Keating brought us political censorship, feminazi bureaucracies, arselicking to every petty dictator between Darwin and China, the black armband view of Australian history, self-hatred, recession, and a general concerted attempt to remake the country in his own twisted image.”

Unfortunately, much of this is true. Keating also tried to give judicial powers to the Human Rights Commission in order to remove juries from particular criminal cases (especially those involving the usual race/class/gender style offences).

The ALP will take some time to recover, and Keating is 100% to blame.

Steve Edwards
Steve Edwards
2022 years ago

One point I forgot to make was that Keating was the primary lobbyist for Sheikh al-Hilaly’s permanent residency visa in 1990. He was not PM at the time, but we are still paying for that dastardly decision.

Peter Kemp
Peter Kemp
2022 years ago

”Keating should probably ignored the the High Court rather than compounding an already damaging policy trend”

The Mabo (and Wik) decisions could not be ignored—the legal concept of ”terra nullius” (empty land) on which the nation was founded was overturned and became the new common law— native title was created by judicial ruling.

It was not a policy, not a trend but THE LAW. Complain about the politics of the necessary native title legislation that followed if you must, but some legislation was needed to determine if, when, by what means native title was extinguished, otherwise by default, Aboriginal people could have claimed the whole continent.

If you think the High Court can be ignored, why didn’t Menzies ignore the High Court ruling on striking down his Communist Dissolution Bill? Because to do so in that case means that Menzies would have been called before the Court and charged and fined (or jailed) for CONTEMP OF COURT.

Its all called ”separation of powers” and worth studying before making assertions of ignoring the HCA.

Also it is not normally called ”entrepreneurial”—the common term for judge made law is judicial activism.

”Every petty dictator between Darwin and China”. This no doubt includes Mohammad Mahathir of Malaysia? Never let truth get in the way of a good slag-off?

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2022 years ago

I did not use so much of a word of slang but my post was rejected due to questionable content.

To paraphrase it, Keating’s good fortune to have an unobstructive opposition made him very effective as Treasurer. The Hawke/ Keating team was indeed a great one.

As PM, not even close. How could he be? He was not PM for long enough. He was not PM during cataclysmic world events.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

James, it’s not a formal English monitor :) The same has happened to me on occasion – some quite innocuous words tend to get blocked by the MT Blacklist program.

Steve Edwards
Steve Edwards
2022 years ago

That’s funny. I’ve read the Australian constitution, and I don’t recall anything saying that an activist decision of the High Court must be followed by legislation. What section of the constitution stipulates judicial led legislation? Menzies’ case is the opposite – the usual path is for legislation to be challenged in the high court.

I bet Keating could have said “that’s lovely, High Court, see you next time”, and nothing would have come of it. Of course, Whitlam started the catastrophe, but Keating certainly didn’t make things any better.

yellowvinyl
2022 years ago

Steve, Howard didn’t say “that’s lovely, High Court, see you next time” after the Wik decision – he legislated. your position makes no sense. had Parliament not legislated, the dispute over the extent of native title and uncertainty over title more generally would have plagued the courts for years. as Peter points out, the decision was the law.

that’s leaving aside the need to do justice to the rights of Indigenous people, which is also crucial.

Peter Kemp
Peter Kemp
2022 years ago

”What section of the constitution stipulates judicial led legislation”

Judges don’t legislate, but written or unwritten constitutions do not say anything about the evolution of the common law except to IMPLY that by having Courts to exclusively interpret the law, it follows that with changing norms the common law evolves by judges changing it.

We wouldn’t have the tort laws of negligence unless the judges in the UK -House of Lords–(around1930 ) extrapolated from a basic ”good neighbour” principle that a manufacturer of ginger beer had a duty of care to all consumers of that product as distinct from contract law. (Donohue v Stephenson)

The old idea of ”no rape in marriage” was abolished in common law in Australia by judicially active judges realising community values had changed.

The common law has been evolving for hundreds of years and we inherited all the UK common law in 1901, including the ”terra nullius doctrine”.

Hpoe that brings you up to speed on the 3rd arm of our separation of powers doctrine—parliament or the executive can never act as judicial interpreters and attempts in the past have always been struck down.

PS. , The constitution is incomplete without understanding the conventions that go with it. I recommend ”Australian Constitutional Law and Theory: Commentary and Materials” by Blackshield and Williams, Federation Press, 3rd edition.

Peter Kemp
Peter Kemp
2022 years ago

Brace yourself, that book is 1256 pages long, and is basic.

I should have also mentioned that apart from constitutional conventions, many many cases are decided by the HCA on implications from the written words of our constitution (ie free speech) Only study of the evolving case law will help in an understanding of the power/legal relationships between the Feds, States and individuals.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Evilpundit has obviously never met Keating.
A ‘dickhead’ he may or may not be but little he aint.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Homer’s quite right. Our PMs seem either to be short like Howard and Hawke or tall like Keating, Whitlam and Fraser.

Peter Kemp
Peter Kemp
2022 years ago

Looks like the RWers are in retreat looking for more ammunition when polemics and tautological argument didn’t convert anybody???

Steve Edwards
Steve Edwards
2022 years ago

That’s interesting you say that Peter, because I assumed that “no rape in marriage” came about due to legislation in the mid-80s.

Still:

“parliament or the executive can never act as judicial interpreters and attempts in the past have always been struck down.”

Therefore, what happens if the common law is “amended” and you do not change the legislation?

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I answered the question with regard to Native Title, Steve. What happens is that the common law is the law, until Parliament legislates. So you would have had the Mabo decision with massive uncertainty as to title.

Criminal law is largely a state domain so the development of the interpretation about rape in marriage and also amendment of the criminal law would have happened in different jurisdictions at different times.

Steve Edwards
Steve Edwards
2022 years ago

In that case, each individual claimaint would have had to go to the courts, would they not? A bit like one Eddie Mabo.

And the problem with the “contempt of court” argument raised (with regards to Menzies over the Communist Party Dissolution) is that Menzies’ legislation referred to the Executive Council. If the Executive Council applied the legislation in contempt of the High Court, then they would be arrested.

Yet the same argument cannot be applied to Mabo. You cannot arrest anyone of the Executive Council, because they haven’t done anything! The only people who could get arrested for “contempt of court” would be the entire legislature. The House of Reps and Senate in the clink for not passing some law about Native Title.

Peter Kemp
Peter Kemp
2022 years ago

I used the Communist Dissolution bill as an example of the separation of powers doctrine, and the HCA striking down bills on the basis of un-constitutionality.

Usually changes in the common law will result in legislation where deemed necessary. There is no compulsion, but in the sense that a fundamental change occurred in Australian land tenure, ie that all land originally from settlement is owned by the crown, it became imperative to ”codify” the new law otherwise the HCA would have ended up being the final arbiters in each and every contested case on common law principles based from Mabo that terra nullius did not apply. Very cumbersome and making life intolerable for all interested parties .

The ”no rape in marriage” was originally a common law case I think from SA but its validity was quickly recognised by other states and codified accordingly. The doctrine of stare decisis, ie precedent allows one states rationes decendi (reason for deciding) to be argued as pursuasive in another state.

If the Government of the time had passed legislation that purported to overturn the Mabo terra nullius ruling then there would have been a constitutional crisis in the sense that this legislation would have been struck down on constitutional grounds that the House cannot be the final arbitrators of law. Were Keating to have done all this and then criticised the HCA in certain ways , then he could have been help to account for contempt of Court. ( Ruddock came close to this recently with regard to the Federal Court)