"Keating believed (economic reform) should be extended to what he called the reform of our outlook. In his view, ‘the economic imperative and the cultural one can’t be separated – they have the same conclusion’. The destination was that of a new, confident, independent Australia – a nation ‘sure of who we are and what we stand for’."

— “Don’t go back to where you came from” - Tim Soutphommasane

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Paul Keating 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.

"

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

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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.”

"

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

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Keating on Inflation in 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.”

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

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Keating 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]

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

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Keating on journalists:

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

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

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Keating 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.”

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

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Keating 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.”

"

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

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“I see two powerful forces pulling at you,’ said Adams in his gentle, challenging way. ‘One is your public, politics, that whole arena. The other is the arts, beauty, sensuality. Which these days, as you now step off one role into another, which as the stronger pull?”

“Well… I think the latter’s always had the stronger pull for me,’ Keating said, in the same familiar voice that seemed after six months so long gone from us, “and had it not had the stronger pull, I don’t think I could’ve done the former as well.”

“Explain that…”

“Well, you’ve got to fill up the bottle. To have a public life where you’re always giving out, where the system is sucking it out of you, where the ideas and the responsibility, the decisions, it’s suck, suck, suck, and it’s just dragging your personality, it’s withering your personality…”

“And deforming it sometimes. You used to complain about the things you were forced to do, the way you were forced to behave, you felt, in the arena.”

“Well, you’ve got to fill the bottle up in some way, and I used to fill it up though those things, broadly through the arts. Through my interest in whatever it might be, in music or architecture, or I’d read, and still read, quite extensively- histories, biographies, novels occasionally – but you need novels to keep your mind enquiring, keep the words coming.”

“But you also need architecture, you need ceramics, you need beautiful furniture…”

“I don’t say I absolutely need them…”

“Oh come on, of course you do. You’re insatiable. You’re like me.”

“I don’t say I absolutely need them, but I enjoy them”

“I want to play out by playing Jessye Norman. This is called “Going to sleep” in German. Would you explain the significance of this?”

“Well, this was written by Richard Strauss at the end of his life. This was in, I think, about 1949. I think he died in 1950. He wrote that very moving thing called The Metamorphosis in the ruins of Berlin in 1946. You know he had all these anti-Semitic views and what have you…”

“He was not a nice person.”

“But of course he was a great romantic, and the great effusive things he wrote when he was eighteen or nineteen like Don Juan and those tone poems, Zarathustra, Death and Transfiguration, they’re amazing works for someone eighteen or twenty to write. But in the absolute twilight of his life he left behind- when really people were not writing like this – perhaps the most melodic, moving, beautiful things that have been written for the voice, his last four songs, and this one is the third song, “Going to Sleep”, and was in part his coming to terms with the fact that he was moral and that he would soon die, which he did, I think, in Garmisch, down near that Junkgspitzer in Bavaria, a year later. And it’s … just beautiful.”

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A radio interview between Phillip Adams and Paul Keating playing classical music:

“Goodbye Jerusalem: Night Thoughts of a Labor Outsider” – Bob Ellis