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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Saturday, 9 June 2007
What moral weight Paul Keating? Pictures tell half the story, audio the other half - big selfish brain
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: election Oz 2007

We took these pictures off Lateline webcast Friday night show just now, following the Thursday night big blast (also below). And see commentary below. If PK is not "ginned up" in some sections, to borrow Barak Obama's phrase then it's a good impression all the same.

Of particular interest is the picture of Keating hobnobbing with one of the other 4 amigoes of the Old Sussex St NSW ALP Right Laurie Brereton involved in recent years in smashing the NSW Planning legislative framework in order to expand Port Botany against the Inquiry of Commissioner Kevin Cleland, via a qango called the Freight Infrastructure Advisory Board. Is Keating on the payroll? We would love to know. The event is the May 2006 launch of the book The longest decade, by moderate political economic writer George Meglogenis of The Australian Murdoch press and often on Insiders.

Another jarring moment was the audio of the "incompetent unions" compared to the saintly pose of Greg Combet who helped centrally to deliver a $4B asbestos compensation fund to victims across all strata of society. Shamefully cavalier language from Keating really.

We haven't pictured Julia Gillard shadow minister below, because we feel she is well out of this somehow particularly male egomaniacal context. What we also liked was the humour in Rudd's reaction, shown below leaning forward on his toes, as if to emphasise a charitable response, for a charity case. Mmm. Quite appealing and impressive actually.

 Pictures, from top: face pulling by Keating, Greg Combet unionist, Keating looks away constructing a line about Julia Gillard in his mind that fits the exagerated thesis, Rudd's charitable reaction, Beazley Gray and Epstein 1998, Keating with ex federal minister Brereton 2006.


More commentary

We've been mulling over Paul Keating's psychology these last 24 hours. The political consequence of going the bash on his own team is obvious - humour for the enemies of the ALP, and gnawing self doubt for the ALP Family when confidence and morale is a premium.

So the question becomes twofold 1. why did PK do it? and 2. is it true?

The answers to both we suspect, confusingly are related. We keep having images of Glen Milne going the swing at Crikey staff. Glen was so embarrassed professionally he quit drinking so it seems. Milne's work has revived in quality and quantity in the press. Well done.

Then there is our own experience: Alcoholic father and grandfather. We went tea total 12 months back, and feel great for it too. Just stay away from my coffee. My work has revived similarly along with my mood.

Then there is Bill Leak accused by his ex girlfriend of being "a cruel bastard". Bill is on the wagon too, hearing tunes in his head and drawing inspired cartoons about Kevin Ruddy/Tintin and double backflips with bellyflop. That's revival. Beautiful stuff.

Paul Keating after a life long of fine reds? The odd Glenfiddich double malt, 21 years? We wonder. We know how these secrets run their course.

Because this is where the truth question kicks in. Or rather, how true is more like it? Gary Grey ex federal ALP ex Woodside now candidate, David Epstein et al are "no value" people says Keating?  

Paul Keating on the lead-up to the federal election

07/06/2007 The former Prime Minister, Paul Keating, speaks with Tony Jones about the political climate in the lead-up to the federal election.

We in the law know a categorical exageration when we see it and how evidence in such terms is bound to be misconceived. Never ever, 100%, Black and White, Pure Certainty. These absolutes are not the real world. When a witness goes that way you can tell they are leaning into the answer.

So it's safe to say these senior ALP folks do really "have value". It's probably safe to say they are not quite A1 quality as per the Keating sledges, as Rudd would say and hope, this side of a near election contest. But similarly that they have the potential, as likely we all do.

But it's even more likely, Keating is a genius gone sour, compares his huge talent (or perhaps more accurately the memory of such talent) with lesser mortals, and wounds them cruelly projecting his own ugliness (read drink?) rather than lift them up or take them with him. After all Paul, politics is essentially about popularity no matter how right or good, a cruel and unfair master at the best of times.

Mandela says - 'a leader lets the most nimble go forward and find the path' and 'a leader's duty is to keep the group together, those in front and those straggling behind'.

These comments say so very much. That a good leader humbly acknowledges the skill and wit of his 'followers' even beyond his own, is not threatened by their abilities, and understands the deep truth that we are all limited human beings and no one can be it, and do it, all.

It also says - not all can be as gifted or "keep up" with the genius or ability of the leader or his closest helpers. Yet a real leader works at, and keeps an eye to the whole group's cohesion and well being, even the slow ones. And why do that if you are concerned with victory first and foremost? Why not just cut 'em loose as PK implies?

Because everyone at some time in their life is bound to be straggling, when before they were leading. First and last depending on the snapshot. Even Paul Keating. That's life. We all intuitively know it. So if you are a compassionate leader who cares for the stragglers even the fast ones feel better and safer for it, and love you for that too, and work above and beyond the call of duty. Love, Paul, not obedience per se. They reach for their A1 quality and even achieve it. Becasue we all know one day that could be, will be, me if bad luck strikes.

But it's not all bad luck. In many ways where you finish up at the end of life's journey, leading, stone mother last, or in the middle is a personal choice: Such as faith in the great deceiver, alcohol, or not. This nasty drug takes you up but always leaves you further down than when you started until you end up gasping for credibility in the dangerous white water rapids of a Tony Jones Lateline hazard.

We will now go and see if Rudd has been swallowed by the same rapids, as those poor victims of the floodwaters yesterday, and Paul Keating the day before has already been (even if he thinks not):

Rudd defends party against Keating attack

08/06/2007 Labor Leader Kevin Rudd has defended his party against suggestions from former prime minister Paul Keating that its members are not capable of winning the election.

It's almost as if Keating is being "defeatist" to quote Gillard, that if he lost against Howard in 1996 everyone else must too or be seen as better than the great PK. But who is to say they are not greater? We will see in due course. Because no one knows. Not John Howard, not Paul Keating, Kevin Rudd, Grey, Epstein, the gaggle of commentators and definitely not this writer.

Postscript #2 - late Saturday 9th June

Well live and learn. We went back to the main interview of last Thursday night, all 25 minutes of it

Paul Keating on the lead-up to the federal election

07/06/2007 The former Prime Minister, Paul Keating, speaks with Tony Jones about the political climate in the lead-up to the federal election.

 after reading Matt Price in The Oz Murdoch press today:

Matt Price: Paul just getting better all the time

because he said staffers in parliament (party non specific) were playing and replaying the interview, which pricked our interest, and to give PK a fair hearing, not second hand from big media hacks generally.

And a re- appraisal is in order. We don't fully retract the tone of our sledge about a punchy ginned up personal aggression of Big Paul Keating. But we do say this:

For the first 10 minutes of a long long interview it is a bravura performance explaining even to an economics amateur like me where the political economy of the country has been. Especially the Hawke Keating govt role. A role the party of the bosses would be proud of in terms of productivity, killing the inflation dragon, enterprise bargaining replacing centralised wage fixing/pattern bargaining, raising wages 2 per cent per year over 20 years but also critically floating the dollar and absorbing both Asian economic shocks and booming mineral exports now.

And the rest of the interview full 25 minutes interview, on national tv no less, one to one talkies is mostly high level analysis too. It pays to replay in parts because like the West Wing the content is dense. But though I am no economics trained observer I notice a major flaw apart from the psychological violence on his rivals within the modern ALP, as above:

PK notes Howard had interest rates running at 21% in 1982 - and lost the 1983 election. Keating had interests rates 16% or so 1995-6 - and lost that election. But PK actually has the gall to say interest rates were not an issue in 1996. Wrong. Very wrong. For whatever reason they were, unlike the 1993 election though rates were of similar magnitude. Maybe because people's exposure was just so much greater on higher capital investments/mortgages etc (a bit like a climber 100 feet off ground same objective difficulty as 3 feet off the ground, but much much scarier)?

But apart from this, some criticism above - and lastly PK's inconsistency of junking "comparative wage justice" [ie pattern bargaining across sectors] "which had to go" yet defending the right of collective unionism, which surely is the localised version of the same thing - there is a hell of a lot to recommend Keating's 25 minute lecture. It pricks the puffery of Costello's alleged economic mastery. Rather implies Christian Kerr's sledge of laziness.

Subject to the GST being alot bigger deal than Keating is willing to acknowledge - bailed out the social services budget which was bleeding as per the Democrat thesis.

In that sense it becomes clear why Rudd was looking so happy with the whole thing. It will shock the govt as much as bruise the ALP egos.  Younger egos that will mature and grow from the lecture, which could have been given without the intergenerational spite and acid we have come to expect from the inflated boomers PK included.

We have never forgetten PK's disdain for the environment, not least the loggers who thrashed him in 1994, dudding Faulkner in the process, and we noticed a PK rare past confession as to this very profound failing.

In conclusion not so much a "sad" or "charity" case, as one to be analysed carefully. Just as his preselection was built on sharp tactics a good 30 years ago, and now is laced with selectivity and exageration. Common trait of geniuses actually.

Posted by editor at 12:09 PM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 10 June 2007 10:52 AM NZT

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