Australian politician, Labor Party (ALP) leader, and prime minister 1991–96. As prime minister he introduced labour market and training reforms and historic indigenous legislation, which recognized the land rights of Australia's Aboriginal people, and focused Australia's foreign policy towards the Asian region. Viewed as the father of modern Australian republicanism, he set up a committee in 1993 to look at the changes needed for Australia to become a federal republic within a decade. He and his party lost the February 1996 general election to John Howard, leader of the Liberal Party.
Born into a Sydney family with Irish ancestry, Keating left school at 15 and immediately became active in ALP politics. An admirer of Jack Lang, he stood on the party's right wing. He was elected to the federal parliament in 1969 and in 1975 became the youngest ever federal minister. He then held posts in Labor's shadow ministry 1976–83. As finance minister 1983–91 under Bob Hawke, he implemented de-regulating economic reforms, including floating the Australian dollar and dismantling many protectionist barriers, which made him unpopular with the public at a time of economic recession. He successfully challenged Hawke for the ALP party leadership in December 1991, to become Australia's youngest-ever prime minister, and he led the ALP to victory in the 1993 general election for an unprecedented fifth term of office, at a time of high unemployment. But later he offended many with his arrogance and abrasive style, and following his party's defeat in 1996 he retired from politics.
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