Keating was born in Sydney and left school at the age of 14. He joined the Labor Party at a young age, serving a term as state president of Young Labor and working as a research assistant for a trade union. He was elected to the House of Representatives at the age of 25, winning the Division of Blaxland at the 1969 election. Keating briefly served as Minister for Northern Australia in the dying days of the Whitlam Government. After Labor lost power in 1975, he held increasingly senior portfolios in the Shadow Cabinets of Gough Whitlam and Bill Hayden. During this time he came to be seen as the leader of the Labor Right faction, and developed a reputation as a talented parliamentary performer.
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