1992 – Paul Keating makes the “Redfern” speech

Written either by Don Watson (Keating’s cheif speechwriter) or Keating himself – the two disagree on this point – there is no doubting that the Redfern Speech of 1992 was one of the most significant events of Paul Keating’s term as Prime Minister of Australia. In it, Keating as head of state of Australia, for the first time acknowledged the responsibility of European invaders for the injustices committed – both in the past and ongoign – against the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.

It fell a ways short of being an apology – that would come later – but it was a stunning statement of responsibility for a nation that has usually preferred (as the speech itself pointed out) to blame the native victims of these injustices for causing them.

Links to the text of the speech, plus sound and video recordings of it, can be found here.

Referenced in:

Redfern — Keating! The Musical original cast
The Ballad of Paul Keating — This Is Serious Mum

1983 – Paul Keating becomes Treasurer of Australia

The 1983 Australian Federal election was a smashing victory for the Australian Labor Party under Bob Hawke – which, as displaced ALP leader Bill Hayden commented, could have been led by a drover’s dog and still won. Sour grapes aside, the election was significant in that it ended 8 years of Liberal-National Coalition government, and also in that Hawke would go on to become the longest-serving ALP Prime Minister in Australian history.

His right hand man, a tall fella named Paul Keating – a ten year veteran of Federal Parliament and a notorious smart-arse – would become Treasurer of Australia in Hawke’s new Cabinet, and preside over a tumultuous but overall successful period of dramatic economic reform.

Referenced in:
My Right Hand Man — Keating! The Musical original cast