Paul Kelly is the most influential Australian political journalist of the past twenty-five years. There was a time when Kelly was merely the most perceptive chronicler of the nation’s political life, a worthy successor to Alan Reid. With the publication of his most celebrated book, The End of Certainty, he became something rather different: a highly significant player on the national stage. The End of Certainty told the story of party politics in the 1980s. More importantly, it insinuated a powerful argument in favour of the dismantling of the distinctive interventionist economic arrangements that had been established after Federation: protectionism, centralised industrial arbitration and financial regulation.
Kelly moved from The End of Certainty to the editorship of the Australian. He used this position strategically, as a means of supporting the fundamental vision of the Keating prime ministership – Australia as a deregulated, free-market economy with a generous welfare safety net, reshaped in its culture by the ideas of multiculturalism, Aboriginal reconciliation and the republic. Together, before their different falls from grace, Pauls Keating and Kelly were a formidable Irish-Australian double act.