Title

Have our modern leaders lost the art of the great speech?

Database

Electronic Media Monitoring Service 

Date

17-06-2016 10:43 PM

Source

ABC1

Parl No.

 

Channel Name

ABC1

Start

17-06-2016 10:43 PM

Abstract

 
End

17-06-2016 11:33 PM

Cover date

2016-06-17 22:43:42

Citation Id

641189

Enrichment

 
Reporter

ALBERICI, Emma

Speaker

WATSON, Don

MENZIES, Robert

MCGREGOR, Catherine

WHITLAM, Gough

FRASER, Malcolm

HAWKE, Bob

HEWSON, John

KEATING, Paul

HOWARD, John, (former PM)

URL

Open Item 

Parent Program URL
Text online

No

Media Deleted

False

System Id

emms/emms/641189

Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document


Have our modern leaders lost the art of the great speech? -

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EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten are preparing for the most important speeches of election 2016 with their campaign launches taking place over the next two weekends. There was a time when a powerful address was the centrepiece of how politicians communicated in elections. These days, it's more likely to be talking points and sound bites. So, have our political leaders lost the power of oratory? Tonight, in our Poll Vault series, we look back at some of the more memorable speeches with two of Australia's best political speechwriters. The piece was produced by Margot O'Neill and Zoe Ferguson.

DON WATSON, AUTHOR, FMR SPEECHWRITER FOR PAUL KEATING: I think a good speech brings a certain amount of honour to politics and which no amount of doorstops will ever do. The foundation speech of the Liberal Party was a great speech, the Menzies Forgotten People speech.

ROBERT MENZIES, FORMER PRIME MINISTER (male voiceover): "The time has come to say something of the forgotten class, the middle class, a community of people whose motto shall be to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield."

DON WATSON: If you've got someone who actually wants to say something and wants to chart a new course, if you like, then that's where a speech can really help and will resound.

CATHERINE MCGREGOR, COLUMNIST, FMR SPEECHWRITER FOR JOHN HEWSON & KIM BEAZLEY: We're a species that thrives on oral - the oral tradition. All the speech is is telling a story, taking people on an emotional journey, using language that touches the heart.

GOUGH WHITLAM, FORMER PRIME MINISTER: Men and women of Australia, there are moments in history when the whole fate and future of nations can be decided by a single decision. For Australia, this is such a time. (Applause from audience) It's time for a new government. (Applause from audience) We will abolish conscription forthwith. (Applause from audience) We will legislate to give Aborigines land rights. (Applause from audience) Not just because their case is beyond argument, but because all of us as Australians are diminished while the Aborigines are denied their rightful place in this nation. (Applause from audience)

CATHERINE MCGREGOR: That speech was wonderful in so many ways. Whitlam was a masterful orator. He had superb cadencing in his speeches. He had a semiotic relationship with the best speechwriter Australian politics has ever produced, Graham Freudenberg. They were a wonderful team and Freudenberg could channel Whitlam and he had Whitlam's voice perfectly and could convey it onto paper.

GOUGH WHITLAM: We have a new chance for our nation. We can recreate this nation. ... I need the help of the Australian people, and given that, I do not for a moment believe that we should set limits on what we can achieve together for our country, for our people, for our future. (Applause from audience)

DON WATSON: Speechmaking's not easy. You need unbelievable confidence. It seems so easy for speechwriters to say, "Here it is, go and deliver it." It's a hard act. And you only get good at it by I s'pose doing it over and over again.

MALCOLM FRASER, FORMER PRIME MINISTER (archive footage, 1975): It became clear that there was no proper - no other choice than to act as we have to rid Australia of the worst government since Federation.

CATHERINE MCGREGOR: Fraser was a good rabble-rousing speaker at rallies. I don't think Fraser had any great claims to being an orator and I think Fraser would have acknowledged that.

MALCOLM FRASER: We are building Australia with the determination of Australia. We are not waiting for the world. (Applause from audience)

BOB HAWKE, FORMER PRIME MINISTER: You are entitled to go into 1985 with a greater hope and a greater confidence that we will be living in a peaceful world than you had when this government came to office and we claim some of the credit for that change that is taking place.

CATHERINE MCGREGOR: Hawke had an ability to connect with people at a human level. Hawke was - Hawke wore his emotions on his sleeve.

BOB HAWKE: And children and young girls were slaughtered as mercilessly as the many wounded soldiers from other units there. Anti-personnel carriers and tanks then ran backwards and forwards over the bodies of the slain until they were reduced to pulp.

CATHERINE MCGREGOR: He was emotionally available. Hawke loved people and they knew that.

JOHN HEWSON, THEN OPPOSITION LEADER (1992): Why won't you call an early election?

PAUL KEATING, THEN PRIME MINISTER (1992): The answer is, mate - mate, because I want to do you slowly. I want to do you slowly.

CATHERINE MCGREGOR: Keating of course was a superb extemporaneous speaker. He was a devastating parliamentary debater. He had a fantastic turn of phrase. When he teamed up with Don Watson, they did produce some genuinely memorable work. The Redfern speech was a very powerful, measured, cadenced piece of work.

PAUL KEATING (1992): It was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases and the alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers. (Applause from audience) We practised discrimination and exclusion. It was our ignorance and our prejudice.

JOHN HOWARD, THEN PRIME MINISTER (2001): We are a generous, open-hearted people taking more refugees on a per capita basis than any nation except Canada. We have a proud record of welcoming people from 140 different nations. But we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come. (Applause from audience)

DON WATSON: I think Howard could deliver a speech. He really could. I don't think we've had anybody in recent times who was particularly fluent. We don't really have a great tradition of oratory in this country.

CATHERINE MCGREGOR: I don't think the art of speechmaking is dead. It's under pressure and it is becoming more rare, but there will always be a role for it.