Following John Lyons’ dump on Paul Keating in the Bulletin last week, Mark Ryan has responded on behalf of the PJK camp:
Casual readers of John Lyonsâ€™ article on Paul Keating might not recognise it, but those of us familiar with his malicious style of journalism can truly say it was Lyons at his worst. His article failed every test of relevance, public interest and fairness. What did it reveal that was worthy of such shrill treatment? Had Keating been caught in Memphis without his trousers? Had he been involved in scandal, or conduct unbecoming a former prime minister? No.
Ten years after leaving public life, Keating is fair game because: he does not share his business or private life with the media; he derives pleasure from music, architecture, and the arts generally; he does not feature regularly enough in the social pages; he is sometimes seen alone in a cafÃ© reading a newspaper; he remains opposed to his political enemies â€“ who continue to attack him and his record; and he regrets the breakdown of his marriage which is, of course, utterly unremarkable. This is what the Lyonsâ€™ exposÃ© boiled down to, with some recycled anecdotes and out-of-context, private remarks thrown in to spice up an otherwise bland tale.
By any measure, Keating has behaved impeccably since leaving public life. He has gone about his business quietly and with dignity and in some quarters this is interpreted as the behaviour of a recluse. Those who see him giving speeches, at gatherings of family and friends, at the theatre, the opera, at bookshops, at restaurants, or travelling abroad, wonder where this â€œrecluseâ€ nonsense comes from.
Keating has nothing but scorn for those like Lyons who would have him meet their own dubious expectations of him. As ever, Keating is himself and defiantly so and, I might add as a former colleague and one who knows him well, doing quite nicely. He contributes to the policy debate and commerce here and internationally where his views are routinely sought and valued. Just recently he was invited to join the advisory board of the China Development Bank, where he is slumming it with former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker, former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, and former French Prime Minister, Raymond Barre, among others. Lyons and The Bulletin have done their readers a disservice and been grossly unfair to someone of whom it must be said, whatever your political views, devoted much of his life to making a lasting contribution to the nation.
Mark Ryan, Paddington, NSW