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Peter Walsh
Australian Labor politician and finance minister in the Hawke government
(1935-2015)



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Since the 1980s Australian Labor Party policy has been incrementally hijacked by well-heeled, self-indulgent, morally vain and would-be authoritarian activists whom the media often describes as the intelligentsia.
-- Attacking the infiltration of the modern Australian Labor Party by the "chattering classes"

It is said that only farmers with sunburnt faces and dirt under their fingernails are properly qualified to understand the complexities of rural policy making. I think I can justly claim to possess all the attributes so much admired by agricultural fundamentalists, except hopefully, the intellectual atrophy of which the Country Party is both a product and a cause.
-- Maiden speech to Senate, July 1974

Conservative agricultural policies which are based on a mixture of romanticism, economic illiteracy and Country Party pork-barrelling.
-- Walsh's description of conservative agricultural policies that were being opposed by the economic "dries" in the Liberal Party

About Peter Walsh

(1)
[Peter Walsh] "helped usher in many of the great economic reforms of the Hawke era, including correcting the Commonwealth’s budgetary imbalance, improving support for people on low incomes, extending fee relief to parents of children using private childcare and introducing the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax".

"Peter was also involved in the establishment of budgeting over the forward estimates. This important reform ensures openness and transparency in the Commonwealth budgeting process and continues to underpin the economic debate in Australia."

Mr Burke recalled that on Mr Walsh’s retirement from cabinet in 1990, The Australian ran the headline "The man who made Keating look soft".

"It must not be forgotten the fiscal discipline from Peter Walsh was always underpinned by a fierce determination to deliver priorities for those who needed help most."

"His commitment to responsible savings and eliminating wasteful expenditure lay at the heart of his commitment to a Labor agenda."

-- Tony Burke, ALP (Australian Labor Party]'s finance spokesman, April 2015

(2)
[Peter Walsh was] "a real pillar of the reforming Hawke Labor government".

"He helped put Australia on a stronger, more solid foundation for the future, in particular by leading the charge as an effective cabinet crusader against wasteful government spending."

"When Australia in 1986 was confronted with a significant fall in our terms of trade, he led the charge in finding about $6 billion in savings in just one budget – a massive and very challenging undertaking at that time." (...)

[Peter Walsh] "in many ways... defined the role of a strong and effective finance minister and set the example which his successors in that portfolio have sought to follow ever since".

"His 1995 book Confessions of a Failed Finance Minister remains the compelling manual of choice for any finance minister today."

-- Mathias Cormann, Australia's Federal Finance Minister, April 2015

Further Reading

Peter Walsh, Confessions of a Failed Finance Minister (1995)
Walsh's memoirs.


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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