Although the principal reason I joined the Labor Party is because I see the Party as being the closest to my values, these two men are a very close second. They don’t get much credit for it, but Hawke and Keating changed Australia in a way that no other two Prime Ministers can.
They defined what Australian progressivism means to me - support for a robust market economy with measured government involvement, a social conscience for the environment and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, establishing a unique Australian identity for the future while acknowledging the nation’s past, and cementing the nation as a part of the Asia-Pacific region.
In 13 years, they can claim all these things. In 11, John Howard can claim a national decline of infrastructure, minute economic reform, WorkChoices and the GST, and being the “deputy sheriff” of the United States. If Howard was a good Prime Minister, then Keating and Hawke are the nation’s best.