Paul Keating’s extraordinary National Press Club performance was so replete with factual errors and disconnected from reality that it will have wiped out the “little bit of residual influence” he had, Greg Sheridan has argued.
Former prime minister Paul Keating used a National Press Club address on Wednesday to unleash a series of attacks on the AUKUS submarine deal, the Albanese government, Australia’s close friends and allies, and the journalists who asked him questions.
According to Greg Sheridan, it was the performance of a “very sad figure” who was destroying the small amount of influence he still had.
“He’s sad, bitter, isolated, irrelevant and unhappy,” Sheridan told Englishheadline Australia.
“I think today he was so crazy and so unreasonable that the little bit of residual influence he has, he will have just about wiped it out by today.”
The foreign editor at the Australian, who has been a frequent target of Keating’s attacks, former Labor leader had effectively issued a declaration of war against the Labor government.
“What Keating did today was to declare war on the Albanese government. He spoke about Albanese and Richard Marles and Penny Wong in contemptuous and contemptible terms,” Sheridan said
“But he’s not attacking him from the 1990s and the 1980s, when he and Hawk ran a good government. He’s attacked him from the 1970s.
“This is 1970s Labor culture, this hatred of America, this chip-on-the-shoulder contempt for Britain, dripping sarcasm about India, of course.”
Sheridan was also quick to point out that Keating’s address was “replete with lots and lots of factual errors.”
“There is one wonderful moment when he says he bullied Penny Wong into not launching Peter Hartcher’s book and not endorsing it on the back cover,” Sheridan said.
“It turns out Penny Wong did launch the book and did endorse it on the back cover.”
“Now if he is so unreliable on a matter of fact, in an incident that happened sort of 5 minutes ago, what’s he like on the big questions of history? I would say just completely off the planet.”
Sheridan also highlighted the complete inaccuracy of Keating’s claim that the United States would have preferred if China had remained in abject poverty – a claim Sheridan went to some lengths to refute.
“That is just barking mad. China was brought into the global economy as an act of considered United States national policy,” he said.
“Nixon and Kissinger first drew China into the international system, the United States midwifed China’s entry into the world trade organisation, Bill Clinton thought very seriously about whether China’s human rights abuses, even then, were so severe that he should not give China most favoured nation trade status, but he went ahead and gave China most favoured nation trade status.”
“For many years the US ran a $200 billion per year trade deficit with China – that’s an enormous injection of wealth into China. American companies invested, there were scholarships for Chinese students.
“Yet Keating says, as though everyone knows it, that the Americans would have preferred the Chinese to stay in abject poverty.”
“So I would just say, why would any sensible person pay attention to this inane nonsense, which bears no relation to reality.”