John Henry Keating

John Henry Keating (18721940), politician, came of a Hobart family which combined a carpentry business with funeral management. An early law graduate from the University of Tasmania, Keating worked hard for Federation and, now Launceston-based, won election to the first Senate. Parliament's youngest member, he showed ability and idealism as a radical Deakinite. He did well as a member of Deakin's 190508 ministry. Thereafter sharpening division between Labor and conservatives, whom he eventually joined, denied the eminence thus portended. In early 1917 Keating thwarted an outrageous manoeuvre by Prime Minister WM Hughes to secure a Senate majority.

After electoral defeat in 1922 Keating remained in Melbourne, sustaining a constructive interest in public affairs. His wife, born Sarah Alice Monks of Launceston, had similar gifts and cultivation.

Further reading: A Millar (ed), The biographical dictionary of the Australian Senate 1, Melbourne, 2000.

Michael Roe