TIME magazine 1 October 1973

Unless you were in his sights, you just had to enjoy Paul Keating’s incisively clever verbal barbs, first as Treasurer, then as the Prime Minister of Australia.

Having lived through the period and read Kerry O’Brien’s 2016 book KEATING (794 pages), I can see how some people have come to see Paul Keating as ‘Australia’s most competent Labor Treasurer’, even though he didn’t achieve the prime ministerial popularity of his neoliberal predecessor, Bob Hawke, the man he overthrew in 1991.

It’s striking, however, that like all other politicians Paul Keating was unable to utter one word about:

  1. the up-until-then world’s greatest real estate/land bubble of 1973, which burst and, inter alia, had the Whitlam Government of which he was a member dismissed,
  2. the 1981 land bubble in land prices that saw Australians throw the Fraser Liberal government out, and;
  3. the 1988/89 property bubble over which Keating himself had presided, bringing about “the recession we had to have” in 1991.

That’s a narrative needing to see the light of day, if the world is to see and understand:

  1. why the land market isn’t a real market (because land may simply be held out of this ‘market’ with virtually no penalty)
  2. why we have tremendous–though largely unrecorded–asset price inflation; and
  3. why we’re witnessing world economies currently imploding – and popular unrest rising.

This is a story, not about the binary system which mainstream media daily puts before us–viz, a fight between labour and capital–but about a third actor, the extraordinary rentier economy which sets our agenda – and about which no one in authority may speak.

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