Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

Blogging the Bookshelf header image 2

"Shut Up and Listen and You Might Learn Something", Edna Carew and Patrick Cook

June 24th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Australian, Politics, Quotes

DSC04267Synopsis: The bite and bile of the greatest Treasurer Australia has ever had.

My Take: Published in 1990, this collection of Keating quotations comes from the golden era of PJK. The period before he became PM and was forced to moderate (at least to some extent) his more extreme instincts for public, rhetorical bloodshed.

Most of the more well known Keatingisms are collected at the excellent Scumbag Archive, so I’ll refrain from republishing them here. But there are plenty of less well known, but equally amusing Keating sprays that I can’t see anywhere online at presemt so I’ll include a selection of the better ones from this book below:

On the Left:

“What it boils down to is wider nature strips, more trees and we’ll all make wicker baskets in Balmain. Then we’ll all live in renovated terraces in Balmain and we’ll have the arts and crafts shops and everything else is bad and evil.”

“These people are trying to make my party into something other than it is… They’re appendages. That’s why I’ll never abandon ship, and never let those people capture it.”

On the economy:

“If we were providing these policy setting and outcomes in Western Europe, they’d be lighting candles to us in the cathedrals.”

“I guarantee if you walk into any pet shop in Australia what the resident galah will be talking about it micro-economic policy.”

“Stick your head out of the building in any capital city in Australia and it’s a sea of cranes. The economy is so robust that it’s taken a pickaxe to stop it. We’re laying into it with a lump of four-by-two to try and slow it down. In the past, if you hit it with a lump of four-by-two, it would fall to bits. And stay in bits.”

“All these ex-Treasury drop-outs around the place advising me how we ought to best do things – the fact is, look, all these people whould be better off in the Australian Treasury. We’ve lost years of experience. They have dropped out to write a bloody newsletter for some merchant bank. It’s pointless and useless.”

On failing to lodge his tax return:

“My fortunes are tied up with the economy.. I’m still on the big picture, painting the big picture, and I may splash a bit of paint. I did make a mistake, but unlike the Leader of the Opposition, my mistake did not cost half a million people their jobs. My mistake did not retard the economy for twenty years. My mistake did not introduce a massive domestic recession, unlike his mistake which almost destroyed the fabric of the Australian economy.”

On the Aussie battler:

“These people, they live on the ebb and flow of the economy, like kelp on the seashore. They can’t protect, they don’t have the personal wealth to protect themselves from the ups and downs of the economy. We’ve got to protect them.”

On Whitlam:

“It was a contest as to whether the heart on the sleeve outweighed the chip on the shoulder. There was certainly a shortage of cerebral ballast to maintain any equilibrium.”

On the Opposition:

“You were heard in silence, so some of you scumbags on the front bench should just wait a minute until you hear the responses from me.”

“You were in office from 1949 to 1983 bar three years…. And you left everything the way you found it. The place got old and tired and worn out, just like you are… For 30 years all we had was Black Jack McEwen trowelling on the tarrif protection while he was kidding farmers he was representing them. And Liberal Part Treasueres, handed speeches by Treasury officials… they couldn’t even read the speeches, let alone comprehend the stuff. That’s how you ran the Commonwealth. The mandarins ran things… you wouldn’t worry about the detail. Because you NEVER ran the policy. You never RAN the place. We run the departments, we run the policy. We comprehend. We know.”

On journalists:

“At least we’re doing it for the history books – you’re doing it for tomorrow’s fish and chips.”

On politics:

“It’s the great vista of politics that is so appealing. You know, a finger in every pie. You’re always certain of your own motivation even if you’re never quite sure of anybody else’s. So if it’s a case of backing in somebody to do a job you might as well back in yourself.”

“You know me luv, downhill, one ski, no poles.”

“We’re all stressed. The game I’m in is lubricated by stress. Politics is the clearing house of pressures.”

“If you want to wear the belt, you’ve got to have the fights. And if you won’t have the fights, you’ll have the belt taken off you.”

“We are all given the field-marshall’s baton in the knapsack when we get our pre-selection. I got mine then and it is still tucked away” [1988]

From 1986, more prescient than he would have intended:

“I could burn inflation out of the economy with a recession, but I would burn the economy with it.”

On Architecture and Design:

“After art deco there’s only fag packets and bottle tops.”

“Other people play the neddies – I perv on buildings.”

“The Labor Party is the only repository of taste in Australian politics. Most of these Tories, like Fraser, have a knowledge of architecture and design that goes no further than wedding-cake Victoriana and grandfather chairs.”

“If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s mock Chippendale.”

On Modesty in 1987

Keating: This is the great coming of age of Australia. This is the golden age of economic change.

Interviewer: How much credit do you take?

Keating: Oh, a very large part.

And two for our times:

“You don’t have to be a genius – if the private economy is rooted, then we haven’t got much of a chance.”

“Banking is the artery of the economy and we’ve had hardening of the arteries for too long in this country.”

Tags: ···

  • Peter Vonk

    Tremendous stuff.

    I,d love to have this well written little book.