Paul John Keating was Australia's Prime Minister from 1991 until 1996. In typical Keating style, he was not elected to the job, but instead kicked out his once friend, Robert James Lee Hawke through a Parliamentary Labor Party vote. From memory, I think he won 56 to 51.

The first thing I should say is that I LOVE this man, without it being sexual, of course. He is extremely smart, without being educated (left school at 14). He is witty and cruel without being overly tactful. He made going and watching parliament pure entertainment, and let's face it, the galleries haven't filled once since he left.

I would like to quote some of Keating's most memorable occasions as a politician.

1. He declared Australia a 'banana republic' which sent the Australian dollar into its biggest tailspin since floating.

2. He won the honour of best treasurer in Euromoney magazine. He was proud of this until he found out a little later that the treasurer of Mexico had won it the year before.

3. He once said of the Liberal opposition leader, John Hewson:
'His performance is like being flogged with warm lettuce.'

4. And about Andrew Peacock (another Liberal):
'We are not interested in the views of painted, perfumed gigolos.'

5. And about a member of staff of preceeding PM, Bob Hawke (Mike Codd):
'Codd will be lucky to get a job cleaning shit houses if I ever become Prime Minister.'

(and seeing he did, we can only imagine that Codd got lucky)

6. Speaking on the economy (while recovering from a recession, mind you): '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 takes a pickaxe to stop it. We're laying into it with a lump of four by two to slow it down!'
(A 'Four by two' is a plank of wood.)

7. On taking risks: 'You know me, love - downhill, one ski, no poles.'

But what must be remembered here is that this man was Prime Minister of Australia and he publicly and frequently called people grubs and philistines. He was a truly remarkable leader, and he was PM for five years, managing to win the 1993 election.

If you ever have the desire to find out more about Australian politics. Start with this man, and go onto Australia's current Prime Minister, John Howard, when you get bored and need an excuse to stop reading.

Source of quotes: Cohen, Barry. (1997). "Whitlam to Winston". Allen & Unwin Ltd: St Leonards, NSW.

I, too, worship at the altar of Paul Keating's scathing wit. Some more memorable examples include:

On ousted opposition leader Andrew Peacock's chances of ever being Liberal Party leader again:

"A souffle doesn't rise twice."

On then opposition leader and now Prime Minister John Howard:

"John Howard has all the vision of Mr Magoo without the good intentions."

To former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser:

"You look like an Easter Island statue with an arse full of razor blades."

On the parliamentary performance of then opposition leader John Hewson:

"The opposition leader today was like a tired old sock."

My favourite Paul Keating quote also concerns Andrew Peacock. During one of the elections when Bob Hawke was still PM and Andrew Peacock was in opposition, the Liberal Party attempted to use a scare tactic that "A vote for Bob Hawke is a vote for Paul Keating", since Keating looked like he would succeed Hawke sometime in the near future (which, of course, he did).

To which Keating replied:
A vote for Andrew Peacock is a vote for Andrew Peacock

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