En Passant #6: Paul Keating, I Wish I Had Said That!


English: Paul Keating in 2007.

English: Paul Keating in 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was ex Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating at his usual vitriolic best while speaking at the Eureka Report Congress in Melbourne last week.

Germany’s Angela Merkel was; ‘intellectually limited and taking the whole world down’.  Julia Gillard’s Labor government; ‘just doesn’t have a convincing and persuasive narrative’.  But he saved his best of the day for Tony Abbott, leader of the Opposition in Federal Parliament, and the likely next Prime Minister of Australia (if the polls don’t change and/or the world doesn’t end).

Abbott, he said, was ‘dumb’, an ‘obstructionist capuchin’ and ‘if the public takes him they will get a large kick in the bum and they will deserve it’.  Fairly obvious that Paul is not particularly enamoured with Tony I guess.  In that he and I are not alone.

First imagery was, ‘a dumb and obstructionist small hairy monkey running about feverishly and squeaking a lot’.  And if you vote for him you’ll deserve what you get!’.  Yep! Pretty well on the mark Paul.

And then the penny (one cent to those unfamiliar with Australian currency pre 1966) dropped.  There’s also an order of monks called ‘Capuchin’ and Keating was making an additional allusion to Tony Abbott also being referred to by the chattering derogatory classes as the ‘Mad Monk’!  So there we have it, the picture formed again in the mind’s eye of ‘a dumb obstructionist small hairy monkey, running about feverishly and squeaking a lot, in a religious seminary’.  I’m familiar with the ‘double entendre’ but not with the ‘double allusion’.  ‘Noice Paul, Noice!’  Certainly one of your better flights of invective.

Tony shouldn’t feel ‘put upon’ too much though.  Keating (who left school at 15) certainly honed his skill in the use of the language of invective and riposte during his years in parliament.  Here’s a few of his better ones.  Put ‘Paul Keating quotes’ into a search engine if you want see more.

On the Senate:  “I would forbid him going to the Senate, to account to this unrepresentative swill over there…”

On the economy:  “The accounts do show that Australia is in a recession.  The most important thing about that is, is that this is the recession that Australia had to have.”  This one particularly is the one that estranged him from the Australian voter.

To Malaysian PM:  “APEC is bigger than all of us – Australia, the U.S. and Malaysia and Dr. Mahathir and any other recalcitrants.”

On John Howard:  “The little desiccated coconut is under pressure and he is attacking anything he can get his hands on.”  And, “What we have got is a dead carcass, swinging in the breeze, but nobody will cut it down to replace him.”  And, on Howard’s 1996 election campaign:  “Soon we will be at the stage where he will be offering us a free set of steak knives.”

On Peter Costello:  “The thing about poor old Costello is he is all tip and no iceberg.”  And, “He’s the greatest L plater of all time.”

On Wilson Tuckey:  “You boxhead you wouldn’t know.  You are flat out counting past ten.”

On John Hewson:  “(His performance) is like being flogged with a warm lettuce.”

On Andrew Peacock:  “I suppose that the Honourable Gentleman’s hair, like his intellect, will recede into the darkness.”  And, “We’re not interested in the views of painted, perfumed gigolos.”  And, “Can a soufflé rise twice?”

To Richard Carleton: “You had an important place in Australian society on the ABC and you gave it up to be a pop star…with a big cheque…and now you’re on to this sort of stuff.  That shows what a 24 carat pissant you are, Richard, that’s for sure.”

On Jim Carlton:  “I was nearly chloroformed by the performance of the Honorable Member for Mackellar . It nearly put me right out for the afternoon.”

On the Liberal Party (aka Australian conservatives):  “Mr Speaker can I have some protection from the clowns on the front bench?”  And, “Those opposite could not operate a tart shop”

On Steele Hall:  “The Honorable Member has been in so many parties he is a complete political harlot.”

To former ALP MP Jim McClelland:  “That you Jim? Paul Keating here.  Just because you swallowed a f***ing dictionary when you were about 15 doesn’t give you the right to pour a bucket of sh*t over the rest of us.”

Paul Keating is certainly a polariser.  You either love him, or hate him.  But I think that even the haters can grudgingly admit that at least he had a personality and some charisma and made Federal Parliament a cut, well and truly, above what it appears to be now.  A place where venal, self-serving non-entities score trivial points off one another and ignore their responsibility to govern the country in the best interests of all their constituents.  We need a few more Keating’s, on both sides of the house!

This almost became a Rant. However, all that can be said ‘in passing’ is; ‘Paul Keating, I wish I had said that!’

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About deknarf

Australian born and bred who has spent most of his working life in R&D and IP management with earlier forays in the newspaper industry and martial arts. Fortunate enough to be living in one of the best countries in the World, even though I might get grumpy with it from time to time.
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2 Responses to En Passant #6: Paul Keating, I Wish I Had Said That!

  1. It’s amazing how many of his phrases continue to pepper the political lexicon. His politics were very divisive, and got progressively loopier, but from the perspective of pure political theatre he was in a class of his own. I always thought Peter Costello was haunted by the shadow cast by Keatings brilliant bear-pit persona.

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    • deknarf says:

      Poor Peter! I suspect he was just haunted by the mega-pragmatist Howard. Keating just destroyed any remaining will of Peter’s to take Howard on.

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