“Few prime ministers have provoked such strong public reactions as Paul Keating”. David Day.
Keating’s left-wing political beliefs stemmed from his pro-Labor, Catholic, working-class family background. Having left school at 15 after completing his Leaving Certificate, Keating went to work, studied electrical engineering at night, and joined his father in supporting the Labor party. Through his political interests, Keating met former controversial state Labor party leader, Jack Lang who took the impressionable Keating under his wing. Having successfully won the local Labor Party’s pre-selection in 1968, Keating was now ready for the election campaign of 1969. Influenced by President Kennedy’s campaigning style, Keating’s youth and energy proved a winning combination, and he became the youngest member of the new federal parliament (in opposition, as the Liberals won the election.)
With problems plaguing the Whitlam government in 1975, Keating became the minister for the Northern Territory on October 27, after the sacking of Rex Connor who misled parliament. Unlike most of his colleagues who were pre-occupied with Medibank and social security issues, Keating was more interested in Australia’s economic growth, in particular the mineral developments and the mining industry. With the sacking of the Whitlam government a month later and the Liberal Party’s return to government in 1977 under Fraser, Keating played a key role in the Labor shadow government’s gaining the position of shadow treasurer in 1983. At the same time, Fraser called an election and Bob Hawke became the new shadow Labor leader replacing Bill Hayden, and subsequently went on to win the 1983 election for Labor.
At the age of 39, Keating was treasurer. He faced enormous challenges after Labor won in 1983 as Australia was in a deep recession, marked by unemployment of 10 per cent, inflation at 11 per cent, and a deficit of nearly 10 billion dollars. Keating planned to restore...
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