Why I’m not so bananas about Paul

THE chardonnay set and the Gucci suit brigade may well be missing that Keating panache factor, Catherine Deveny (Opinion, 14/3), but on the face of it Australia can do far better. The reality is that Paul Keating was an F-grade economist who picked up the baton and ran nowhere special at all.

March 15, 2007

As treasurer, probably his most tormenting moment occurred when Bob Hawke was in China drumming up business for the soon to boom $2 shop market explosion — a worthy mission that we thank him for. Leaving our F-grade economist in charge was a moment in historical hilarity as the banking sharks swarmed over our Gucci suit, flooded him with top-notch chardonnay and spooked the living daylights out of him — so successfully, that our cheeky Paul lost momentary balance and envisaged the demise of the lucky country into a “banana republic”.

History may clarify these facts, but the end result was the lifting of the interest rate ceiling, some whopping great shocks in the mortgage belt, and a further journey down the well-trodden Howard track of banking deregulation. So given that Australia has reached the nth degree of deregulation, do we need more of the same or more of something expressing novelty and difference not really witnessed since the Whitlam blitzkrieg of ’73.

One cannot be too critical of Paul Keating as he did pursue a popular though not original agenda and he did it with much style and fanfare — something that was sadly missing until Kevin Rudd advanced to the front lines. The question or the issue to ponder is the result of three decades of unbridled growth and deregulation that has been fuelled pretty much by politicians of all colours and creeds. What is not pondered so much is the reality of the effect and the long-term costing of policies that have been produced so cheaply during this global period of Australian growth.

In such CSIRO reports as Future Dilemmas, the bottom line is examined apolitically. Such material may well be the future “bible” of the next Whitlam-style buccaneer that courageously reflects and corrects economically, socially, and environmentally post a fun, wild but not so tempered “consumption frenzy” — which is currently banked upon but not truly considered in relation those hidden and not so hidden costs.

Will Rudd and his team surprise us all after they cross the line? Who knows. The important consideration is that we have had a long, long run of growth and too much more without consideration to societal “dry rot” may well have us realise the Keating “banana republic” nightmare. Should Australia endure another cyclone it may well be even worse: a “bananaless republic”. On top of everything else, I don’t think Australia is quite ready for that.

Image sourced from http://collectionsearch.nma.gov.au/object/54089

Story sourced from : http://www.theage.com.au/news/letters/why-im-not-so-bananas-about-paul/2007/03/14/1173722555285.html