The Boy from Boree Creek: The Tim Fischer story
Allen & Unwin, $35 hb, 354 pp
In February 1996, as Australians prepared to elect the Howard government for the first time, Paul Keating addressed a trade union rally at the Melbourne Town Hall. Keating, knowing but not accepting that he would soon be ejected from the prime ministership, ran through a commentary on the leading figures in the Liberal–National coalition. Keating’s message was that these people were second-rate and would disgrace Australia if they won power. In reference to the National Party leader, Tim Fischer, Keating attracted a big laugh when he averred: ‘You know what they say – no sense, no feeling.’ Keating, who had previously described Fischer as ‘basically illiterate’, regarded his opponent as a joke. He was not alone. There were worries about whether Fischer would be up to the task of holding down a senior ministry, especially his chosen portfolio of trade, and of serving as acting prime minister when John Howard was ill or out of the country.