A unique volume of speeches and occasional pieces written entirely by former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating
Books of speeches are rarely published as a compendium of work by one person. After Words is unique in Australian publishing by virtue of its scale and range of subjects, and that all the speeches are the work of one eye and one mind: former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating. Each speech has been conceptualized, contextualized and crafted by Paul Keating. Subject to subject, idea to idea, the speeches are related in a wider construct, which is the way Paul Keating has viewed and thought about the world. The speeches reveal the breadth and depth of his interests—be they cultural, historical, or policy-focused—dealing with subjects as broad as international relations, economic policy and politics. Individual chapters range from a discussion of Jorn Utzon's Opera House through to the redesign of Berlin, the history of native title, Australia's relationship to the countries of Asia, the role of the monarchy, to the shape of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2, and more. After Words contains an analytic commentary on Australia's recent social and economic repositioning, in the minds of many, by its principal architect. The speeches, more often than not, go beyond observations, as Paul Keating sketches out new vistas and points to new directions. For those interested in matters that go to the future of Australia and the world, After Words presents, unmediated, a panoply of issues which the policy mind and writing style of Paul Keating has sculpted into a recognizable landscape.
|Publisher:||Allen & Unwin Pty., Limited|
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About the Author
Paul Keating was elected to the Australian Federal Parliament in 1969. He was appointed Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia upon the election of the Hawke Labor Government in 1983.
Read an Excerpt
The Post-Prime Ministerial Speeches
By PJ Keating
Allen & UnwinCopyright © 2011 Paul Keating
All rights reserved.
BUILDING A MASTERPIECE
The Sydney Opera House
Sydney, 10 August 2006
Paul Keating's lifelong interest in architecture and design encouraged the editor of Building a Masterpiece to invite him to launch her book in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Jørn Utzon's nomination as winner of the NSW Opera House competition. Paul Keating sees Utzon's Opera House as more art than architecture, describing the design as timeless, earthy and utopian. He claims Utzon's creation is not simply the greatest building of the twentieth century but one of the greatest of all history.
Whatever was pedestrian about Sydney, and God knows so much has always been, we have always rejoiced in the extraordinary natural beauty of its harbour and its maritime environs.
The high points of its built form — the colonial ones such as Greenway's St James' Church and environs, Barnet's monumental Bridge Street, St Mary's Cathedral and Sydney University — as well as the twentieth-century residential and commercial buildings such as the Astor, the AWA Tower and many others we could mention, could, in one form or another, be seen in other cities around the world.
Sydney dropped the veil of me-tooism when it built the Harbour Bridge. At the apogee of the industrial age, the Labor government of New South Wales made the almighty gesture of spanning the north and southern shores of the harbour with this utterly grand and monumental structure, book-ended by pairs of completely resolved granite pillars.
From that moment on, at least in world terms, that great arch defined Sydney and, for the most part, Australia, as the world had come to know it and indeed us.
It was Sydney's Eiffel Tower, its greatest engineering feat, and built in much the same manner.
But it was more than that. It was a declaration of the importance of the public domain and its primacy in the scheme of things. And in an era when one found one's identity in the common quotient with one's peers, it was cause for rejoicing of a kind that an insular and uncertain place, bound by the modesty of its circumstances, had not previously had.
In the sweep of any nation's history, 30 years is not a long time. But that was the time between the decision to go ahead with the construction of the Harbour Bridge and the decision to build the Sydney Opera House.
Perhaps not remarkable in itself, but remarkable, as it turned out.
Those 30 years took Australia from the age of iron and steel to the age of concrete, with all its beguiling plasticity.
Those 30 years, in Sydney at least, saw the advent of the steel-frame building and its Cubist march across the city's golden masonry.
'Free at last', cried the architects, 'of the limits imposed by brick and stone; now the sky is the limit'. As the First World War brought down the monarchies across Europe, from that point on, cities and their architects would celebrate the liberation by turning their backs on the decoration and forms which represented so much of the autocratic past.
Function, simplicity and utility took the ascendancy, while materials were employed in a form of exhibitionism which slaked from façades all remnants of the architectural forms and motifs that existed down through the ages.
Architecture in this mould, today, has many names; modernism and postmodernism come to mind. But whatever it is, it holds as uppermost, one single tenet: that everything that happened in architecture before it is irrelevant.
It was in and from this milieu that Jørn Utzon's revolutionary Opera House emerged — so completely and remarkably.
Not only does Utzon refuse to let the materials divine his design, he moulds them to a naturalism which his genius understood would allow him to draw from an entirely new order.
As surely as the gothic of the middle ages brought its rules and inspiration from nature's florilegium, Utzon's 'shells' drew their inspiration from nature and, in their building, from the perfection of nature's sphere. In one leap, Utzon bounded from the new modernism with its naïve geometry and stultifying righteousness, to an entirely new framework of his own creation.
Somewhere in the Utzon head came inspiration for this. For his building is, without doubt, more art than architecture. Some creativity in that brain of his, inspired by nature, or some set of passions, brought this conception into being.
Architecture is not an art. It is a taught medium. Students, certainly these days, sit down and learn rules. They then translate those rules to particular tasks. The tasks, at their best, have creativity about them; but, more often than not, only a modicum.
The artist, of course, knows no boundaries. Art is infinite. It is not deductable; it defies containment.
Utzon's building, like all great art, never weakens. No matter how often you see it or from what angle you look at it or in what light it is cast, it always hits you in the heart because it is simply so good.
It is, without any shadow of a doubt, the greatest building of the twentieth century and one of the greatest of all history. Because it devolves to a new and ingenious order which its creator himself divined.
It begs, I think, an important question: does everything truly great about architecture find its origin in nature? Or at least spring from it?
The ancient Egyptian orders with their bud-like, tension-filled capitals and the Greek ones with their relieved flowering represented the highest architectural ideals of all humanity and did so until the second quarter of the twentieth century. The Egyptians with their Pyramids built with a simplicity of form beyond improvement while the Greeks, with their temple pediments and logarithmic loggias, borrowed from nature's rules to instruct themselves in perfection. In progression, Rome's Pantheon gave the world its first half-hemisphere with its ocular view of the heavens.
Nature not only feeds us, it informs and inspires us. Could the judging panel in 1956 not understand that it was present at the creation of something new and utterly revolutionary? Something each judge recognised as being novel but possessing resonances each had experienced or could identify with?
Just as the Royal Society could not mistake the stodgy Turner in his ruffled black suitcoat and concussed top hat for the great and new art that was in his power, so, too, Ashworth and Saarinen and their fellows could not mistake real genius, no matter the modesty of its origin. For their perspicacity, we thank them sincerely.
As we especially thank Ove Arup for applying his creativity in seeing Utzon's conception to reality. Utzon, unlike Blondel or Ledoux, would not have survived on paper. Utzon had to go real. University students and graduates around the world would not, these days, be researching through the Sydney Opera House competition entries or debating why Utzon did not win, had Utzon not got to build his edifice. I doubt that he would even have ended up in texts about classicists, such as of Friedrich Gilly who, by the way, did a modernist reductive loggia in 1796 much more resolved than the one Utzon himself did here recently.
No, Utzon had to get his building into the sky.
He was in the form business. He was not in the music business. All this talk over the years about the tragedy of him not completing the interior belies the fact that what Utzon, more than anything else, would have wanted to see was those magic forms and silhouettes become a reality.
Like most people, I should have liked to have seen him execute his design through to completion. But I don't think many of the great buildings, whether they were Michelangelo's or Christopher Wren's, were turnkey jobs where the architect left an invoice at the end and was presented with an award. These master works were always a work in progress. In fact, Utzon's was relatively speedy.
In the age of autocracy it was possible to garner the civic authority to conceive and complete grand buildings of this kind. In our age of democracy, this is nigh on impossible, with governments coming and going, while the financial demands of the task soar. Most governments these days would wilt under a Sydney Opera House project. A building like this today would represent ten cross-city tunnels all rolled together, with works ministers back-pedalling for all they were worth.
That said, I would like to amplify a couple of things that, over the years, have occupied my mind about Utzon's concept at its core.
There is little doubt that the inspiration for the masterpiece came from nature.
The more horizontal organic shells of Utzon's original entry touching his podium lightly at their load-bearing apexes no doubt have their roots in nature. Light and seemingly hovering, the shells could almost be thought to flutter.
The problem was, they could not be built.
Because of their organic shape, the stresses within each shell were unpredictable and could not be measured.
It was, I believe, Arup's application to the task which pushed Utzon to rethink the practicability of his conception, so as to provide it with shell elements that could be built, owing to the fact that they would behave predictably: in other words, subject to an applicable order or set of governing principles.
This, no doubt, is where his vertical, heaven-sent shells came from.
It is to his everlasting credit that Utzon saw the sphere as providing him with a building geometry that was at once predictable, while capable of calibration for industrial reproduction.
Utzon's passage from his artistic conception to his spherical solution is as impressive and as real as architectural history's age-old journey from the primeval hut to the stylish, mathematical purity of the Parthenon.
Utzon's Opera House does not belong to any historical age, but is 'timeless, earthy and utopian', all at once.
I have no personal connection with the building save for four things.
I was at the opening and, of course, it was better to be there than not be there.
In another instance, I sat on the design committee of the new Parliament House in Canberra for seven years and from the Saarinen example in Utzon's selection, I did what I could to encourage IM Pei to join the judging panel. And, as it turned out, he played a similar role in turning up Aldo Giurgola's and Richard Thorp's winning design.
In yet another instance, one of Utzon's young collaborators, Peter Myers, approached me as Prime Minister about the withering state of Utzon's drawings and the body of work associated with Arup's engineering. I gave the government of New South Wales a grant of $6 million to preserve them.
Finally, I scurried across the quayside from a green double-decker bus in George Street to the building that was then only at podium stage, to hear the great basso voice of Paul Robeson standing in his herringbone coat with cap on head and hand at ear. He sang the great black spiritual songs that had made him famous and which seemed to come not from the bottom of his chest but from the earth underneath him.
And maybe if I can add one more.
I saw the USSR State Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Evgeny Svetlanov, with their battered and decaying instruments, lift Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony to a musical experience so profound as to make me ask the question: why could the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, with the greatest residence in the world, not sound like that? Seven years later, as Prime Minister, I took the opportunity to free the SSO from the stultifying bosom of the ABC and it has never looked back.
It is fitting and right that 50 years after the New South Wales Labor government launched the competition in 1956 for the new opera house, we should celebrate that event. An exercise in vision and community-building which, in this country, only comes from Labor governments.
But, what a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the genius who won the competition.
Utzon's building has no parallel in human history. Not only did it represent an endorsement of us as a people, a people whose community had come of age, in a much more parochial sense, it reconnected Sydney to its own harbour.
This book, Building a Masterpiece, edited by Anne Watson, is being published by the Powerhouse Museum to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of that great undertaking.
I understand it was to be the frontispiece of an exhibition surrounding the project, which, sadly, never came about.
Nevertheless, there are gems contained here. Eugene Goossens's own vision of an opera house he campaigned for. Details of the unprecedented design and construction challenges including stories about the work site, its multiculturalism and industrial activism.
It talks also about the reconciliation between Utzon and the community of New South Wales, which, I must say, is an issue that has been way overdone. No one else at that time would have had the political patience or the funding to have built Utzon's design. Now, of course, many would, but not then.
Utzon made his appointment with history when he dropped his entry into the competition box. He should never forget this. But, neither should we.CHAPTER 2
A TIME FOR REFLECTION
Political Values in the Age of Distraction
The Third Annual Manning Clark Lecture, Canberra, 3 March 2002
Paul Keating uses the third Annual Manning Clark Lecture to urge Australians to remain remote from 'the gated refuge of nothingness' by restoring a proper moral basis to our politics. In the lecture he upbraids the Howard government for its exclusionary refugee policies; its blatant use of racism under the guise of freedom of speech; its assault on institutions including the High Court and the Governor Generalship; and its politicising and suborning of the public service and the Australian Defence Force. Paul Keating also disavows John Howard's 'deputy sheriff' strategy for Australia, urging an Australian, rather than American, foreign policy and with it, a new 'Australian' century.
Many of you have been attending the Weekend of Ideas, hosted over the past three days by Manning Clark House, of which this is the final session.
I am delighted to be part of it. Because out here, on the edge of Asia, a long way from major markets and natural groupings, ideas are all Australia has to shield itself from the harsh winds of global change.
Not military might, or a large population, or unique resources. Just ideas.
Ideas are what must sustain our democracy, nurture our community and drive our economy into new areas so we can cope with the challenges I will be talking about tonight.
I first met Manning Clark in the early 1980s.
I used to visit him in that little birdcage of a room on the roof of his house where he retired to think and write. That face of craggy desiccation looking out on Australia, a country which he did so much simply to interpret, but by his interpretation, to shape.
Excerpted from After Words by PJ Keating. Copyright © 2011 Paul Keating. Excerpted by permission of Allen & Unwin.
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Table of Contents
Publisher's Note xii
Part 1 History, Culture and Social Policy
1 Building a Masterpiece: The Sydney Opera House 3
2 A Time for Reflection: Political Values in the Age of Distraction 10
3 Film and Art in the Australia of Nationalism and Cynicism 23
4 New Urban Domains: Potsdamer Platz 29
5 The Launch of The History Wars 39
6 The Launch of The Longest Decade 44
7 Balmoral: Meeting with Her Majesty, the Queen 53
8 The Decade of Moral Erosion: The Stocktake 58
9 The Launch of Churchill and Australia 65
10 The Lowitja O'Donoghue Oration 75
11 Neoclassicism 94
12 Eulogy on the Death of Bill Bradshaw 101
13 Australian Labor Party Gala Federation Dinner 109
14 The Centenary of Federation: Beyond the Celebrations 113
15 For the New Australia 133
16 Obsession: Australia and the Challenge of Asia 157
17 Introduction to Mahler's Symphony No. 2 181
18 The Launch of ?In Denial: The Stolen Generations and the Right' 184
19 The Labor Government, 1983-96 192
20 The Compact City: Urban Design and Architecture 213
21 Bankstown City: Silver Jubilee 223
22 ALP Life Membership Acceptance Speech 230
23 Eulogy on the Death of Geoffrey Tozer 243
24 The Privacy Imperative in the Information Age 'free-for-all' 256
Part 2 International Relations and Foreign Policy
1 Peace and Prosperity: The Spiritual Challenge 281
2 Australia and Asia: The New Order after the Financial Crisis 295
3 Leadership and Change 307
4 APEC: Australia's Biggest Seat at its Biggest Table 312
5 The Death of President Soeharto 323
6 John Curtin's World and Ours 330
7 China and its Challenges 346
8 A Prospect of Europe 356
9 Eliminating Nuclear Weapons: A Survival Guide for the Twenty-first Century 376
10 Obsession Revisited 393
11 Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration 407
12 Australia and Asia 417
13 Notes on the State of the World 427
14 The Perilous Moment: Indonesia, Australia and the Asian Crisis 435
15 Leadership, Asia and the Digital Economy 458
16 Implications for the Strategic Architecture of the Asian Hemisphere 467
17 China and the Challenge of Asian Regionalism: China in the Twenty-first Century 481
Part 3 Australian and International Economic Policy
1 Australia: The New Economic Template 491
2 The Story of Modern Superannuation 502
3 After the Crisis: The Emerging Order 515
4 Superannuation: Turbocharging Retirement Incomes 522
5 The World Economy: The Narrow Escape 533
6 Financial Innovation and Labour Reform in the Post-Industrial Age 541
7 Developing China: The Continuing Story 549
8 Picking the Peak: 25 Years of the Bull Market 556
9 The New Global Mosaic 561
10 Vocational Education and Training: The Oft-Forgotten Tier 571
11 Human Resource Management: The Role of Leadership 580
12 The Compassionate Agenda 586
13 The Irresistible Emergence of Emerging Markets 592
14 The Re-Emerging Crisis: The World Malaise-Mid-2011 598