Paul Keating has paid tribute to Kevin Rudd for preserving the ALP as a “fighting force” and praised the former prime minister’s policies during the global financial crisis as “an instance of international exceptionalism”.
Keating, prime minister from 1991 until 1996, said Rudd had given “profound service” to the Labor Party. Without Rudd’s “energy and leadership”, the party may not have been able to defeat John Howard, Keating said.
On Rudd’s toppling of Julia Gillard, Keating said: “Without traversing the hills and hollows along the policy trail in office, he returned to the prime ministership to re-base the party’s electoral standing and its parliamentary numbers, preserving it as a fighting force.”
Keating’s fulsome statement contains one factual error. Not all of Rudd’s front bench members were returned at the election. Whilst all members of the Cabinet held their seats, the Assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury, was defeated in Lindsay, and the Minister for Sport, Senator Don Farrell, failed to be re-elected in South Australia.
Statement from Paul Keating.
Remarks by PJ Keating
I should like to acknowledge the profound service which Kevin Rudd has given the Labor Party.
Notwithstanding the 11 years which the Howard government had had in office, without the energy and leadership provided by Kevin Rudd, Labor may not have been able to have turned the opportunity into victory.
As a consequence, Labor had another six years in government. An important six years. Added to the 13 years of Labor between 1983 and 1996, this has meant in the 30 years since 1983, Labor has had 19 of them in office.
Kevin Rudd opened his period of office with his now famous ‘apology’ and not long thereafter, saved Australia from the fate of every other industrial economy – a deep and prolonged recession. If his government had been elected for no other reason but to have achieved this, it would have achieved much: an instance of international exceptionalism.
And without traversing the hills and hollows along the policy trail in office, he returned to the prime ministership to re-base the party’s electoral standing and its parliamentary numbers, preserving it as a fighting force.
And I know, notwithstanding the defeat at the last election, Kevin Rudd is comforted by the fact that all of his front bench members were returned to make the continuing case for Labor.
Kevin Rudd has much to be proud of. The Labor Party stands in his debt.
14 November 2013