The Honourable Paul Keating
Former Prime Minister of Australia
Paul Keating spoke at the US Studies Centre event Reflections on the Shift of Economic Gravity from the Atlantic to the Pacific in May 2012.
Mr Keating was elected to the Australian Parliament in 1969 and in 1975 became the youngest ever federal minister, holding the portfolio of Minister for Northern Australia in the Whitlam government. Following that he was shadow minister in a number of areas including agriculture and minerals and energy.
With the election of the Labor government in 1983, Mr Keating became Treasurer. This saw Mr Keating implement a raft of nation changing economic reforms, including the progressive deregulation of the financial sector, the float of the Australian dollar, the abolition of deposit and lending controls on banks, extensive tax reform and the dismantling of Australia’s century old tariff wall. These structural reforms provided resilience to the Australian economy and financial system which have enabled Australia to withstand the major deleterious effects of the global financial crisis of 2008 as well as the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998.
In December 1991 Mr Keating became Prime Minister and led the ALP to an historic fifth term of government in March 1993. As Prime Minister he continued his progressive reform program which included the introduction of a compulsory national superannuation scheme to redress national savings and to provide more adequate retirement incomes. The Keating government also implemented the historic Native Title legislation to return land to indigenous Australians and raised proposals for constitutional reform to have Australia become a republic.
Foreign policy under Mr Keating was focused sharply on Australia’s relationship with Asia. He established the APEC leaders' meeting in 1992, with its commitment to regional free trade. For the first time, there was a formal strategic structure in the Pacific where the US President, the President of China, the Prime Minister of Japan, the President of Indonesia and other national leaders could meet annually. Mr Keating left Parliament in 1996.
In 2000, Engagement: Australia faces the Asia Pacific, his book dealing with his government’s foreign affairs policies, was published. In 2003 it was translated into Japanese and into Chinese for publication by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. In October 2011, After Words, a book of his post Prime Ministerial speeches was published.
Mr Keating has been awarded honorary doctorates in law from Keio University in Japan (1995), the National University of Singapore (1999), the University of New South Wales (2003) and an honorary doctorate of letters from Macquarie University (2012).
Mr Keating travels regularly to Asia and maintains contact with former and current national leaders, speaking in the region and occasionally writing on contemporary economic, political and urban design issues in Australia and abroad.