Keating and China
August 30 2016
ACRI Prime Ministers Series: Keating and China
On August 30 2016 the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) at the University of Technology Sydney presented the fourth instalment of our 'Prime Ministers Series': devoted to the China policies of former Australian Prime Ministers.Paul Keating was Prime Minister from December 1991 until March 1996.
Mr Keating’s emphasis, as Treasurer and as Prime Minister, was on improving the competitiveness of Australian industry in a global market.
Mr. Keating discussed his time in office dealing with China and Australia's relationship with China today with eminent broadcast journalist Kerry O’Brien.
Download the conversation transcript here.
View the full event photo gallery here.
About the Hon Paul Keating
Paul Keating was born in Sydney on 18 January 1944. He was educated at De La Salle College in Bankstown where he obtained the Intermediate Certificate in 1958. Mr Keating left school at 15, joined the Australian Labor Party at this time and in 1966 became President of the NSW Youth Council, the predecessor to Young Labor.
In 1969 Mr Keating was elected to the House of Representatives as the Member for Blaxland, centred around the suburb of Bankstown where he had lived all his life. In 1975 he became the youngest ever federal Minister and held the portfolio of Minister for Northern Australia in the Whitlam Cabinet.
Between 1976 and 1983 Mr Keating served in the Opposition Shadow Ministry and was spokesperson for a number of portfolios including agriculture, minerals and energy. During this period Mr Keating was also President of the NSW Branch of the ALP.
When the ALP was returned to Government in March 1983, Mr Keating became Treasurer, a position he held until 1991.
This role saw Mr Keating implement far-reaching economic reforms, including the progressive deregulation of the financial sector, the float of the Australian dollar, extensive tax reform and the dismantling of many protectionist barriers. These reforms assisted the expansion of the Australian economy. He was responsible for deregulating the airline and telecommunications industries and for establishing a national framework for power.
Mr Keating became Prime Minister in December 1991 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 establishment of a National Training Authority, a national superannuation scheme to redress low national savings and labour market and training reforms which addressed Australia's long-term unemployment problems.
Other key achievements of the Keating Government included the review of the Sex Discrimination Act, the historic Mabo legislation which recognised the land rights of Australia's indigenous people and the introduction of legislation ensuring protection of endangered species.
Mr Keating raised proposals for constitutional reform to make Australia a Republic. Mr Keating focussed Australian external policy towards the Asian region. He took an active role in the establishment of APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and initiated its annual leaders' meeting with its commitment to a regional free trade agenda. He also developed strong bilateral links with Australia's neighbours, especially Indonesia.
Following the defeat of the ALP in March 1996, Mr Keating resigned from Parliament.
He continues to take a close interest in the national issues with which he was associated in public life. Mr Keating is Visiting Professor of Public Policy at the University of New South Wales and has been awarded Honorary Doctorates in Laws from both Keio University in Tokyo and the National University of Singapore.
On 15 April 2003 Mr Keating was awarded a Doctorate of Laws LLD Honoris Causa from the UNSW in recognition of the economic and legislative reforms overseen by him as Treasurer and Prime Minister and for his work fostering better relations in the Asia-Pacific.
Mr Keating's book, Engagement: Australia Faces the Asia-Pacific, examines Australia's foreign policy objectives and achievements during his term as Prime Minister and was published in March 2000. Mr Keating married in 1975. He has four children, Patrick, Caroline, Katherine and Alexandra.
About Kerry O'Brien
Kerry O'Brien is one of Australia's most respected journalists, with six Walkley awards including the Gold Walkley and the Walkley for Outstanding Leadership in journalism.
In a 50-year career, Kerry has worked for newspapers, television and wire service, and as a foreign correspondent. Thirty-three of those years have been at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation where he cut his teeth on the trail-blazing current affairs programs This Day Tonight and Four Corners. He was the inaugural presenter of Lateline for six years, the editor and presenter of 7.30 for 15 years, and is the presenter of Four Corners.
His acclaimed four-part interview series with Paul Keating was broadcast on the ABC in 2013, and he has also interviewed most of the influential world leaders of his time including Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. And then there was Robert Mugabe.
Kerry has specialised in national politics for the ABC as well as the Seven and Ten television networks, and was a press secretary to Labor leader Gough Whitlam. He has known Paul Keating for 40 years.