history meme » 2/4 prime ministers » Paul Keating
Paul Keating was the 24th Prime Minister of Australia between 1991 and 1996. First elected to the House of Representatives in 1969, when the Hawke Government came to power in 1983 he was appointed Federal Treasurer and was at the forefront of sweeping economic reforms. After Hawke reneged on a deal to hand over the Prime Ministership to Keating after the 1990 election, Keating launched a successful challenge to become leader of the Labor Party.
Entering into office in 1991 with an approval rating of just 17 per cent, Keating immediately set about implementing what he called his “big picture” agenda, which included making Australia a republic, reconciliation with Australia’s indigenous population and furthering economic and cultural ties with Asia. In 1993, he defied expectations by winning the “unwinnable election”, leading his party to a record fifth consecutive electoral victory.
He remained unpopular in the opinion polls, however, and although he some progress towards his aims — he set in motion a referendum to decide on the republican question, his government passed Australia’s first national native title legislation, his landmark Redfern Speech marked the first time any prime minister had publicly acknowledged the atrocities committed against Indigenous Australians, and he took an active role in the development of the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference Forum — he was ultimately unable to push through the changes he wanted, and his “big picture” aims faltered under subsequent governments.
In 1996, he suffered a crushing electoral defeat — the second-worst ever of a sitting government — and the conservative Coalition, led by John Howard, was swept into power on a landslide.
Keating is remembered, among other things, for his scathing and colourful insults. He dominated parliamentary Question Time in a way that few others could, tearing strips off his opponents with his withering words.