What makes a good political speech? 'Light on the Hill' speeches

There seems to be tacit agreement among Labor people, and even among some journalists, that Ben Chifley’s ‘Light on the Hill’ address was a standard-setter for inspirational political speeches. Delivered in the aftermath of the Great Depression to an ALP Conference in 1949, it set out to reassure those whose memory of that awful event lingered still.

Although it was just 484 words, the ‘light on the hill’ phrase has resonated down the years as epitomising Labor philosophy.

Here it is for you to analyze and critique.

“The Light On The Hill” – 1949 Speech by Prime Minister Ben Chifley

I have had the privilege of leading the Labour Party for nearly four years. They have not been easy times and it has not been an easy job. It is a man-killing job and would be impossible if it were not for the help of my colleagues and members of the movement.

No Labour Minister or leader ever has an easy job. The urgency that rests behind the Labour movement, pushing it on to do things, to create new conditions, to reorganise the economy of the country, always means that the people who work within the Labour movement, people who lead, can never have an easy job. The job of the evangelist is never easy.

Because of the turn of fortune’s wheel your Premier (Mr McGirr) and I have gained some prominence in the Labour movement. But the strength of the movement cannot come from us. We may make plans and pass legislation to help and direct the economy of the country. But the job of getting the things the people of the country want comes from the roots of the Labour movement – the people who support it.

When I sat at a Labour meeting in the country with only ten or fifteen men there, I found a man sitting beside me who had been working in the Labour movement for fifty-four years. I have no doubt that many of you have been doing the same, not hoping for any advantage from the movement, not hoping for any personal gain, but because you believe in a movement that has been built up to bring better conditions to the people. Therefore, the success of the Labour Party at the next elections depends entirely, as it always has done, on the people who work.

I try to think of the Labour movement, not as putting an extra sixpence into somebody’s pocket, or making somebody Prime Minister or Premier, but as a movement bringing something better to the people, better standards of living, greater happiness to the mass of the people. We have a great objective – the light on the hill – which we aim to reach by working the betterment of mankind not only here but anywhere we may give a helping hand. If it were not for that, the Labour movement would not be worth fighting for.

If the movement can make someone more comfortable, give to some father or mother a greater feeling of security for their children, a feeling that if a depression comes there will be work, that the government is striving its hardest to do its best, then the Labour movement will be completely justified.

It does not matter about persons like me who have our limitations. I only hope that the generosity, kindliness and friendliness shown to me by thousands of my colleagues in the Labour movement will continue to be given to the movement and add zest to its work.

There is it in all its straightforwardness. How do you assess it? What makes it inspirational in the minds of many? If Julia Gillard were to have given that address this year, what do you expect the reaction would have been, from the public, and particularly from the media?

By way of comparison, you may care to now read Julia Gillard’s speech to honour Ben Chifley on September 18, 2010.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard's Light on the Hill address to honour Ben Chifley

We gather as members of the Labor family to honour the life and memory of one of Labor's greatest heroes, Ben Chifley.

For the men and women of the Labor Party, coming to Bathurst is more than a visit. It is a pilgrimage.



A pilgrimage to the beloved home town of a man who embodied the Labor faith - the “light on the hill” - our enduring belief that positive government endeavour can improve the life of every Australian.



In honouring the memory of Ben Chifley, I also honour you, the members and supporters of the Australian Labor Party, who have kept the faith in good years and in bad.



Thanks to your campaigning, the Labor story in government continues. 

The cliff-hanger result on August 21 underlines the importance of every Labor supporter in our return to office.

Every candidate, every booth, every supporter, frankly, every how-to-vote card.

If the result on August 21 was at first a disappointment, it has also yielded remarkable opportunity.

Let’s remember what emerged from the last minority circumstance in the House of Representatives in 1941, almost 70 years ago, the Curtin-Chifley Government - which became the greatest government in the history of our Commonwealth.

Perhaps no government will ever equal theirs.

We’d surely hope no government again faces the wartime dangers that confronted that government.

But though we may not equal the achievements of Curtin and Chifley, we can aspire to equal their vision and dedication.

And we can renew their Labor traditions for a new century.

We can lay the foundation for an era of sustained growth and prosperity ... just as Chifley laid the foundations of the long post-war boom with policies for full employment, uniform taxation, modern central banking and strengthening the place of Australia in the global economy through our role in the IMF, the World Bank and GATT.

We can build the National Broadband Network - as great a nation-building plan as the Snowy Mountains hydro scheme ... which like the NBN, in its time was also decried and attacked by the Liberal Party.

We can make better health care accessible for all Australians - just as Chifley introduced the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that made basic medicines accessible to all, and just as he sought the establishment of a national health service.

We can serve, as Chifley said in his General Election policy speech in 1949, “our fundamental objective, the betterment of the people”.

Friends, the Curtin/Chifley Government led Australia to not only win the war but also to win the peace.

To build a post-war era based on equity and opportunity, firmly grounded in sound economic management.

In his ninth and last Budget Speech in 1949, Chifley called out to the nation as it stood at the threshold of the second half of the twentieth century, urging:

“We should not be afraid to set our goals high”.

That is my appeal to our nation tonight, as we look ahead to the first sittings of our new Parliament just a few days from now.

Let’s not lower our ambitions.

Let’s not decide that because no party holds a majority, this cannot be a Parliament that makes progress and delivers lasting achievements.

As Prime Minister, I intend to go to the Parliament and do all we can to deliver policies and programs that Labor took to the election.

I intend to embrace the opportunities of this new Parliament - working together and getting things done.

The first Curtin and Chifley government - that relied on the support of two Independents from October 1941 to August 1943 - was immensely productive, not just in marshalling the nation’s economy and resources for war, but also preparing for the peace.

From the beginning, they looked to the future.

The work on reconstruction and postwar recovery began just months after Labor took office - three years before the war ended - and it was well advanced by the time of the 1943 election, which Curtin won in a landslide.

In his recent book Graham Freudenberg remarks that "in truth, the Australian Parliament of 1940-43 was the greatest in Australian history.”

Seven decades later, in vastly different circumstances, I believe this parliament can be equally purposeful and productive.

With restraint and civility, we can put aside the empty rancour of partisanship, and seek to work together.

To build consensus in the community, and majorities in the Parliament, for the “betterment of the people”.

The parliamentary reforms for the new Parliament will change our political processes and the way we conduct our democracy, bringing new levels of openness and accountability into our democratic processes, with the hope that each of us in parliament can be judged on the contribution we make, not the points that we score.

But the reforms we have announced are only a framework, and within that framework Parliament must deliver results.

This is not a time for inaction, for filibustering or obstructing progress.

As the members of the 43rd Parliament arrive in Canberra on Tuesday week, I believe Australians are expecting from them a sense of responsibility, and a willingness to roll up their sleeves and get work done. 



Unfortunately there are some early signs to the contrary. 



The Parliament has not yet even met - but Mr Abbott has already spoken of how he wants to bring the government down. 



In saying that, Mr Abbott implies that he does not intend a constructive engagement with the new Parliament - but instead, he wishes only to engineer a set of events leading to a vote of no confidence.



Friends, let me make this appeal to all members of the new parliament. 

It’s understandable that members on all sides may see political opportunity in that kind of approach. 



And I appreciate it’s a strong temptation for a Leader of the Opposition who came so closely to victory. 



But I think there’ll be a lot of disappointment in our community if that easy option is taken. 



Because it is the easy option.



 The harder path is the better path - where we set aside short term partisanship in pursuit of long-term progress.



Where each of us asks not, “is this in my party’s interest?” but “is this in my nation’s interest?” 

A path that leads us to finding common ground, forging compromises and doing the work that Australians expect us to do. 



The political landscape emerging from this year’s election is challenging.

For Labor, we recognise there are important lessons if we are to better define and deliver the overarching purpose of the Labor Party in this, the second century of our nation and our party. 



That purpose is to achieve progress for all Australians, to support them in improving their own lives and to deliver real opportunities through a stronger and broader economy.



 Of course, Chifley articulated this purpose - the betterment of all the people - in his own concise and compelling way. 



But he also knew that different moments in history demand different responses, to achieve the same enduring goal.



Labor governments have often confronted times of economic challenge.

And they have responded with reforms that have helped to secure our lasting prosperity.



 Our goal means that we must work to make prosperity sustainable and ensure that it benefits all Australians, whoever and wherever they are. 



When we achieve this, our communities can become stronger. 

That requires strong and disciplined economic management. 



And it requires us to deliver and implement changes that will underscore improvement in the lives of Australians for the years to come. 



Changes like the National Broadband Network. Changes like a new approach to regional development. 



Changes like national health reform. As well as superannuation, schools reform and making the transition to a low carbon economy. 



These changes are big and daunting. They will require determination and persistence. 



To succeed we will have both to consult and collaborate - to seek consensus and build new partnerships. 



And we will need to focus relentlessly on implementation - the delivery of better services and infrastructure in communities across the nation.



Combining these two approaches will deliver the progress that Australians rightly expect. 



Our first priority must be continued, sustainable economic growth - so that the hard work of Australians is rewarded and their future is made secure.

Australia has come through the global financial crisis in remarkably good shape, but nobody should underestimate the challenges that lie ahead. 

Our economy is being profoundly affected by the industrialisation and urbanisation of Asia.



 In China alone, some 300 to 400 million people are expected to move to cities in the next 20 years.



 That will require new apartments and new infrastructure. 

Indeed, a typical family apartment will require six tonnes of steel - or around ten tonnes of iron ore. 



Multiply those ten tonnes by the millions of apartments needing to be built every year, add to it all the steel needed for rail lines and infrastructure, and you can understand why Australia’s terms of trade are now approaching the highest level in our nation’s history. 



For Australia, there are many benefits from high commodity prices. 

But history shows us there are equally many risks. 



We need careful management, and long term policy work. 



Otherwise we won’t capitalise on the benefits that the high terms of trade offers and our growth won’t be sustainable. 



We must confront the risks of higher inflation, acute skill shortages and the risk of ‘Dutch disease’ - where the high value of the dollar jeopardises the competitiveness of some industries and regions.



This is not a new challenge. 



But this time - unlike in previous booms - we have better insights into how we can harness a surge of income to build sustainable growth right across the nation. 



As competitive pressures on non-resource sectors like services and manufacturing intensify, we need to move up the supply chain and develop more innovative, higher value-adding industries. 

That requires a better skilled workforce, high levels of workforce participation, innovation and advanced infrastructure.



 Investing in our people, from the earliest pre-school age through to schools, universities and the existing workforce is essential for our future. 

Because in the long term Australia’s greatest asset is not actually the minerals in our ground.



It’s in the skills of our people.



Success for our farmers, our manufacturers and our service industries depends on having high-level, up to date skills. 



And investing in our people will be part of driving a culture of opportunity and responsibility in which individuals, having had their skills and capacities nurtured, show the self reliance and endeavour necessary to build their futures. 



I believe in a high productivity, high participation economy because I believe in the benefits and dignity of work.



For our nation to achieve its potential, we need to enlist the talents of more and more people from every corner of Australia.



That means we'll create the sorts of opportunities that mean success is determined by how hard you work, not where you're from. 



 Labor will also drive the investments we need in advanced infrastructure for a more productive economy – broadband, rail, roads and ports. 



And we need to make the historic transition to a low carbon economy, breaking the nexus between growth and increased carbon emissions.



That means acknowledging the reality of global warming and putting a price on carbon – priorities for the new Parliament.



The second great challenge I want to discuss tonight is at the heart of Labor’s vision - ensuring that opportunity and prosperity extends to all parts of the nation.



This is a fundamental Labor priority.



 We are a party born as much from the regions as from the cities – from Barcaldine, as well as Balmain. 



That’s why the regional development we finalised with the Independents is not for us a break from our past. 



It consolidates a direction we’d already taken in our first term in office. 

And it builds on a strong history of standing up for regional Australia. 



Equity and opportunity for all is at the heart of the Labor faith. 



In today’s Australia, inequality of opportunity can be as much a product of region as it is a product of socio-economic background.



Labor’s commitment to regional Australia comes from our enduring belief in the principle of universality - quality services, a better life and a fair go for all our people and every region.



For us, universality is a core social value ...an article of faith as old as party itself - dating back to our very first manifesto back in 1891.



For more than a century, Labor has represented and delivered for regional communities like Bathurst, which Ben Chifley so proudly represented.



And so today, we will deliver for regional Australia in new ways. 

The NBN will deliver high speed broadband to every corner of the land.



And we will ensure that every region - city and country, coastal and inland - will pay the same uniform wholesale price.



High-speed broadband is crucial for every region in Australia to participate fully in the economic opportunities of the future and the productivity transformations of the digital age.



It means our children will grow up in an Australia where more people are contributing to, and benefiting from our national prosperity, whether they grow up in Bathurst or in Brisbane, in Cessnock or Sydney, etc.



 Ben Chifley always understood post-war reconstruction as being about the whole nation, not just some parts of it.



So too, broadband will be to the 21st century what the railways were to the 19th - not just an engine of growth, but a civic bond drawing our whole Commonwealth closer together.



Universality drives our educational reforms from pre-school to university.

We are not prepared to tolerate country kids falling behind city kids, indigenous kids falling behind non-indigenous kids and poorer children around the country being left behind.



Chifley went without a great education and longed for it all his days.



Our purpose is to right this kind of historic wrong, to ensure that every child in every school gets a great education and fair access to the opportunities for learning beyond school. 



If we succeed in that goal, we will have truly accomplished our ‘education revolution’.



Our historic health reforms and our GP Super Clinics also build fundamentally on the principle of universality of care, the same values that drove the creation of the Medicare system by the Hawke Government a quarter of a century ago.



It’s our commitment to universally high health standards that has inspired the creation of regional cancer centres. 



Because we simply can’t accept the current situation, where Australians living in our rural and regional areas are three times more likely to die of cancer within five years of diagnosis.



Nor can we accept Australians having to wait years for essential elective surgery in some areas. 

That’s why we’re implementing the national target for 95 per cent of Australians to receive their elective surgery in clinically recommended times.



This commitment to universality runs like a golden thread through Labor’s reform program.



It’s why we can lay claim to be a true Labor government – governing with modern Labor values, for the challenges of today. 



Friends tonight is a night for optimism.



I am confident Labor can deliver strong, stable and effective government in the unique circumstances of this new Parliament. 

In this term of office we will build on Australia’s strengths to deliver opportunities and benefits to all Australians. 



We should not be afraid of this moment.



We have a remarkable opportunity to remake our democracy and to remake our nation.



If we handle the economic challenges of the decade ahead as well as we handled the global recession, we can build lasting prosperity. 

The many historic buildings in Bathurst in 2010 still stand as a monument to the lasting prosperity built in the Gold Rush 150 years ago. 



Our challenge today is to also build an enduring legacy for the future: investments in physical infrastructure and superannuation savings that will bring strength to our nation long after we have gone.



But more than that, investing in our people - what economists describe as our ‘human capital’ - because those investments endure for a lifetime.



Remember that kids entering school today will still be in the workforce in the 2070s, just as a baby born when Chifley became prime minister in 1945 would be reaching retirement age in this year, 2010.



That is the scale of our ambitions.



We want change that will reach across eras and span generations.



As the kids being born and entering school today grow up and grow old, we want them to inhabit a nation vastly better than the one we know today.



Richer not just materially but socially as well – a nation rich in concern for the less well off, at home and abroad.



A nation that is closer to closing the gap and reconciling with its First Peoples.



A nation richer in the good things of culture and recreation that are the just reward for those who work hard and seek renewal.



Friends, we might be a minority administration but I want our government to deliver outcomes and vision for Australia as though we had won a landslide, just like Curtin and Chifley did between 1941 and 1943.

They did not sit fretting about the numbers on the floor of the House of Representatives.



But based on a respectful partnership with their parliamentary colleagues, they made the bold decisions demanded by the times, informed by Australia’s needs and inspired by Labor’s values.



With goodwill and cooperation, we can do the same.



We can strengthen opportunity for all Australians, and build an enduring legacy for future generations.



That is how we will honour Ben Chifley and keep the Light on the Hill burning bright.

There it is – PM Gillard’s September 2010 speech. How did you find it? How does it rate compared with Chifley’s? What were her take home messages? Were they clearly articulated? Were they lucidly stated? Were they memorable?

Let’s have your critique of both the Chifley and the Gillard speeches.

What makes a good political speech?

There has been much recent comment about the quality of political speeches, and indeed this has been so over the life of the Gillard Government and in fact during the period of the Rudd Government too. Commentators, most of which have likely never written a political speech, feel qualified to comment, and describe speeches of which they disapprove by using throwaway pejorative phrases such as ‘banal’, ‘uninspiring’, ‘lacklustre’, and sometimes more unkindly, ‘plagiarized’. They scarcely ever specify what was missing, or incorrect, or overdone; they may make comments on bits they regard as inappropriate, but they never suggest how the speech should have run. That seems too difficult for them.

On this blogsite we have attempted to draft speeches that our PM might make in order to lay bare what the MSM seems incessantly to crave – her Government’s ‘vision’, its ‘narrative’, and what she and her Government ‘stand for’. We have done this here because MSM journalists never deign to propose how political speeches ought to read or how they ought to be delivered. Here are our two recent attempts at ‘speechwriting’ for our PM: Julia Gillard’s Light on the Hill and Julia Gilllard’s Vision for the Asian Century.

What follows is the first in a short series of speeches that will be reproduced here verbatim over the break. Some are regarded as outstanding. The challenge for you is to read and assess them as brilliant, ordinary or poor, and most importantly then indicate why you so classify them. Let’s not have throwaway comments without backing – leave that to our journalists, who seem unable to do better. Take Laurie Oakes as an example. He made disparaging remarks about PM Gillard’s opening speech at the recent ALP National Conference, in The Daily Telegraph on December 10, 2011 in a piece A brilliant speech could save Gillard. Yet he offered no advice about how a ‘brilliant speech’ might come about. Let’s see if we can do better.

Here is the Prime Minister’s address at the opening of the ALP National Conference on Friday, 2 December 2011, reproduced verbatim: it is just short of 3000 words.

Why not judge her speech yourself.

Prime Minister Gillard's Speech to the ALP National Conference

Thank you Jenny, it’s so good to be so warmly welcomed by our President, elected by our members.

Delegates, here we acknowledge Australia’s first people, we acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet.

And I look forward to the great day when we will acknowledge them in Australia’s Constitution as well.

Delegates, it is good to be with you all again.

In the sixteen months since we stood together in that toughest of Federal election campaigns, our Party has governed and governed well.

We all shared the hard work of those campaigning days.

And we share the achievements and opportunities of these days of government.

As I have travelled our country since, I have seen our achievements reflected on so many Australian faces – and seen the opportunities we want to spread to all Australians.

I saw them in the faces of the education-hungry young women I met at UnitingCare Ambarvale in May.

Young mums getting help with childcare, with skills, help finding a job, leaving a life of exclusion behind.

That’s why this year our Labor Budget gave better help to Australians to get a job and to make sure it pays.

Achievements reflected in the face of a hard-working woman I met last month in Melbourne’s west.

She suffers an acquired brain injury but she’s never been a victim, started a business in her own home – marketing gourmet dog biscuits over the Internet!

Now selling them to Harrod’s of London for thirty-five pounds each.

That’s why this year, we took the decision to lay the foundations for national disability insurance, fairness at last for two million Australians, people with disabilities and their carers – it will be a defining Labor reform.

Opportunities reflected in the face of a woman I met in Darwin last year.

A cancer survivor worried by a sore leg that won't heal, now getting the care she needs.

Because her dermatologist in Adelaide can examine her leg on a high speed video link on-line.

That’s why we’re rolling out high speed broadband.

Tasmania led the nation, beginning the replacement of the hundred-year old copper wire network, and now this year in Brunswick and Armidale, Townsville and Kiama, the National Broadband Network is an investment in the future which is operating now.

Achievements and opportunities reflected in the face of a resilient teenager I met in The Canberra Hospital.

A sixteen year old boy getting a hip joint operation faster because we’re cutting waiting times.

That’s why this year we delivered for health – not just much-needed extra funds, but the long-lasting reforms to give our people better care.

And delegates, achievements and opportunities I have seen reflected in so many faces of our clean energy future.

I’ve met workers at a Brisbane tip generating power from methane, traditional apprentices with clean technology skills in Brunswick and wind farm technicians in Bungendore.

Workers at one of our cleanest baseload power stations at Dalby and staff who told me about pioneering technology at Kogan Creek.

The faces of the new jobs being created in our clean energy economy.

That’s why this year.

After a debate lasting the best part of two, even three decades together, this year, we turned words into deeds and next year, Australia will have a price on carbon.

Great Labor achievements – great Australian opportunities.

And delegates, together we’ve done more.

Labor is the Party of jobs.

And you know the value I put on the benefits and dignity of work.

A value I’ve never seen reflected so clearly as on the days when I have been lucky enough to visit Australia’s gas fields and mines.

And all the places in our great resource states – Western Australia, Queensland, and now South Australia – where our young people are trained in the trades they need to make the most of the mining investment boom, to win their own jobs and to make the boom last.

As the Party of jobs, we govern for jobs.

So in the worst global recession in seventy years, over conservative opposition in the Parliament and beyond, we brought our economy through, stronger than any developed country, and your Labor Government created more than seven hundred thousand Australian jobs.

Labor is the Party of growth.

And you know my passion for education – growth’s long-term key.

It is a passion I’ve seen more than shared, I’ve seen it exceeded, by the kids, the parents, the teachers – and by a great principal, Margaret at Goodna State School, in Queensland’s south east.

Where our national partnerships are lifting teacher quality, improving the children’s reading and writing, and rebuilding this local school as well.

That’s why your Labor Government doubled education funding.

And delegates, Labor is the Party of fairness.

The fairness I believe we express above all through the respect we show each other as Australians.

Fairness and respect that your Labor Government works hard to extend to every Australian every day.

As we did when we decided to make a new, fortnightly payment to support surviving Australian prisoners of war – another victory in Labor politics for that great fighter for fairness Tom Uren.

As we did when we took the decision finally to give Australian women paid parental leave.

And when we took the decision to give caring workers equal pay.

We did it because we know that fairness begins in the workplace.

Delegates, we always have from our first days in office in Australia.

Watson’s Labor worked so hard for conciliation and arbitration – to protect working people.

It took longer than that first, four-month term for Labor in national office – but Watson’s Labor got it done.

And in doing so they set the test for every one of their successors.

That urgent, ultimate test they set for Labor in office is still the same: did you do the right thing for rights at work.

Friends, this Labor Government did.

Your Labor Government put Work Choices in the grave.

And only victory in 2013 will bury Work Choices forever.

Delegates, we meet today as Labor.

We all know the Labor way.

The way of jobs, of growth, of fairness.

The way of education, of hard work, of respect.

The way of the future.

And we meet as a Party which knows that the Labor way is the Australian way.

Our great movement’s shared identity – and our grand Party’s historic mission – combine as simply as this: we are Labor for Australia.

To govern for Australia is a great privilege for us – it is a great responsibility as well.

We love this movement – its traditions and ideals – but we have always seen it as a movement in service to the nation we love more.

We have always governed by putting the nation first.

The responsibilities of Government are the responsibilities of hard choice.

Curtin knew that when he raised conscripts for military service overseas.

Chifley knew that in the industrial winter of 1949.

Whitlam knew it when he ended the bitter debate over state aid.

Hawke and Keating knew it every day they governed.

And we know it now.

We showed it this week, as we made the hard decisions to bring the Budget back into the black.

We will show it again this weekend, as we make the hard decisions to prepare our nation for the future too.

Delegates, in these coming days, I want us to have a fair dinkum Labor Party conference.

We didn’t join Labor in our youth because we had no opinions.

We didn’t come here for a coronation or a campaign launch.

We came here for debates, we came here for surprises, we came here to have votes.

This is why I called the review of our Party last year.

And why I asked three fine Labor servants – John Faulkner, Steve Bracks and Bob Carr – to serve our Party once more.

To bring forward proposals to strengthen us – to be a Party of members because I knew we needed change.

That’s why I also stated very clearly in September how I believe the next stage of Party reform should begin.

And at this Conference, I believe we can go further.

We can set a recruiting challenge.

Eight thousand new members next year and I want this Conference to sign up to the target this weekend.

We can adopt a community organising approach.

Backed with real resources, giving our Labor members and activists the tools they need “to organise and fight” for progress in their communities.

So as we grow, we grow in connection, including trialling community preselections, “primaries”, in some seats.

And we must lead in the new world of campaigning on line.

We must have a serious digital presence through which Australians who share our values can engage with our ideas.

A base from which Labor campaigns can be organised.

The proposal to build a much stronger Labor on line presence is a vital proposal for the future.

We can move to modern structures.

Recognising that the old branches alone are not the future, embracing new forms of online membership and opportunities for supporters to become more involved.

Allowing members to organise around policy areas that reflect their interests and ideas.

And offering new opportunities to participate in policy development through genuine forums which include parliamentary, union and directly elected representatives.

And above all, we can create a richer experience for members of the Labor Party.

A genuine opportunity for all Labor people to take part in the Party’s political life.

More opportunities to have a say and a direct vote in important decisions.

Starting with a National President, elected by members, to serve a full, three-year term.

I know change needs fresh thinking and strong leadership.

But you know it needs something else as well.

No parliamentary leader – no executive or committee – can dictate the moment at which we become again a Party of members.

As Leader, I can create the opportunity – only you can take it.

Delegates, in the debate tomorrow I urge you to seize this moment for reform.

A Party of members will always be a Party of passions.

And I know we are more than able to express our passions in unity and with respect.

Because the respect we share – the trust we have in each other – join us in a bond that no debate, however passionate, can untie.

Because we meet as Australian Labor people.

Because we meet to debate the way ahead – for our country and for our common cause.

And because we know that our cause and our ideas our plans for jobs and growth and fairness, these things must be fought for.

Argued here, yes, then fought for as well.

Fought for in politics against determined conservative opposition, fought for in every street, suburb and town.

Together, we must seek to govern, because only Labor can govern for all.

Delegates, I said 2011 would be a year of decision and delivery, I never said it wouldn’t be hard.

And I knew that in 2011 our Labor Government would have to persevere.

Showing the courage of your convictions does take courage.

But delegates, I knew something else.

I knew that in 2011 we would not be alone.

Because I always knew that the volunteers and the members, the activists and the organisers – all those who fight for Labor in our time – would prove more than worthy of the Labor generations who went before.

You were with us in the hard days of the last election campaign.

You were with us in the hard days of Government this year too.

Labor generations past have claimed great achievements as their own as 2011 ends, you can be proud of what you have done.

And together in 2012, we will do much more.

In 2012 we will cut taxes, lift family payments and lift the pension.

In 2012 we will cut company tax, lift super and build new infrastructure.

In 2012 we will create tens of thousands of jobs.

Delegates, I believe Australians are naturally confident.

We face the future and we see a chance to build, a chance to grow, but I also understand that Australians ask hard questions about their own future too.

Will the mining boom last?

Will all our people get a fair share of our mineral wealth?

What will sustain our economy in the days beyond the boom?

Will we build on the great advances that have helped our people live longer?

Will our senior generations have the choices to work and to live a full life as they age – and will they have security of accommodation and care when they need it?

Will Australians with disabilities, children, adults, seniors and their carers, two million in all – be able to live a full life?

And perhaps the question that lies at the foundation of it all.

Will we remain economically strong in the Asian Century – growing our wealth and spreading fairness too?

What is the future of Australian jobs?

Delegates, I look forward certain that we will answer these questions.

Because we do know the future of Australian jobs.

That future is not jobs for their own sake, not hard work without reward.

But jobs with skills which will be in demand for years – jobs in industries which will grow for decades to come.

The farmers of tomorrow won’t only farm the wheat to feed us, they’ll farm carbon and trade the credits in the world.

The plumbers of tomorrow will have the skills we’ve always relied on and more and more they’ll apply them to transform the energy and water efficiency of our factories and our homes.

Just as the panelbeaters who work our metals today will work in new supply chains tomorrow, for the global manufacturing that will flourish in the Asian Century.

And the caring abilities of our nurses and doctors will be applied in entirely new ways, offering diagnosis and advice on-line and from afar.

This is what working life will really be like in a high-tech, high-skill, clean energy economy.

And these are just some of the future jobs we can already see.

We will create new jobs in our whole economy, from tourism and hospitality, to retail and finance, construction and mining will change as well.

And there are jobs coming which we can hardly imagine today.

Entirely new occupations – created by tomorrow’s entrepreneurs – using the new skills and new technologies we’re investing in now.

These are the jobs of the future for which we govern.

And we govern for them now.

We are on track to create over three hundred thousand more during the next two years.

Today we would not swap places with any economy in the world.

It’s often said, but rarely is it so true: we did this not by chance, but by choice.

We govern for jobs – by governing for growth.

And we govern for growth by saying yes.

Yes to the skills, to the infrastructure.

Yes to keeping the doors of trade open, to walking the reform road in office every day.

And for that still to be true tomorrow, we still have work to do.

This is the key to Labor’s economic approach: Labor says yes to Australia’s future.

To trade training in high schools, to extra university places.

To better roads and ports and to high speed broadband.

To a nation strong and respected in the Asian Century.

And while we govern for jobs through growth, we govern for jobs for fairness.

Fairness, when we extend opportunity to all – so everyone has the chance to get ahead.

Fairness too, when we ensure no Australian is left behind.

When we govern for jobs, for growth, for fairness, that is when Labor governs for all.

Delegates, Labor has always governed for all.

This is how we began.

As men and women coming together in trade unions – giving the ordinary person power in the workplace he or she would never have alone.

Aiming to give working people security – to end want for all who work.

In the second half of our existence, we aimed higher.

Aiming for a fair distribution of opportunity in a modern economy.

Above all, through an education system that would give working-class kids a chance.

That historic work is not yet done – but we must lift our eyes again.

Because we know just how much has changed in these long years – we can sense already just how much will change in the future.

And it is because we have always looked with confidence to the future that we are confident to look to the future now.

Confident to show our people the future we see and seek.

Australia is a special country – and we can do something special here.

We can set a goal for which few peoples in the world can realistically hope.

Australia can be both prosperous and fair.

Sharing the wealth and the benefits of hard work with all.

Showing the world that a prosperous nation can be a fair nation still.

And silencing the many voices who say it cannot be done.

There are still those who say we must make a simple choice between growing jobs and being fair.

Friends, because we are Australians, because we are Labor people, we know that they are simply wrong.

We have proved the world wrong many times before today.

We are the people who share and stick together.

We are the people who hold on to mateship and the fair go.

We know that to have jobs, we must have growth.

We know that to have fairness, we must have jobs.

So we grow and as we do we spread the growth.

We create jobs – and we demand that every job be a job worth having.

We know ours is a people who work hard – and we deeply believe all deserve a share in the benefits of their hard work.

This is the Labor way.

This is the Australian way.

We follow it simply because we are us.

And this is Labor’s historic task too: to be Australia’s Party, to lead in the Australian way.

Our historic task, to carry forward a torch which first burned decades before we ever knew the words “the light on the hill”.

We always sought to govern and we always governed for all.

We still do.

Delegates, Australia can do this.

We can do this when we say yes.

Yes to jobs, to growth, to fairness.

Labor says yes to Australia’s future.

There it is. Please analyze and assess it, and voice your opinion, but when you do, please state the basis of your assessment.

Some aspects you might care to consider include: What were her prime take-home messages? How well did she make them? Were they memorable? Were they appropriate? Were they sufficient? If not, what messages would you have added? What was your general impression of what she said? Did it inspire? Those who heard it could add a comment about delivery.

Above all, let’s not mimic our journalists, too many of whom criticize without saying specifically what they dislike and why; who use pejorative, or for that matter the occasional complimentary words, without pointing out why they are using them. Let’s demonstrate in our comments how a balanced critique is written, one that gives constructive feedback where the word ‘because’ follows the criticism, or the plaudits. And let’s remember that constructive feedback focuses on the behaviour of the individual (in this case giving a speech), not on the person.

If the desire takes you, tell us what you would have said. The expression of opinion is fine, but let’s not do what too many journalists do day after day, express opinions without a shred of supporting evidence to back them.

Enjoy yourself.

The Layman's Guide to Finding the Devil in the Strangest Places - Devil's Dictionary Part III

So as to prove that I am capable of finishing something which I have started ages ago, and which, for the nimble-minded among us, you might remember I have promised before and not delivered, herewith is the final installment of my abridged version of letters N-Z of 'The Devil's Dictionary'.

Might I just add that our own little devil, Tony Abbott, is likely wishing that he will be reborn as a political god next year. I wish him well. Even with all the help he could muster from a compliant and complicit media, he failed. Might I also just add, chanelling Ambrose Bierce, the man needs help.

Don't forget, some of the definitions I have no desire to add to, as they speak for themselves without any interference or addition from me.



NEPOTISM, n. Appointing your grandmother to office for the good of the party.

And who, as the 'bastard love-child of Bronwyn Bishop and John Howard', in an approximately similar way, has kept Granny Bishop safe and secure on the Shadow Front Bench of the Coalition and permanently pre-selected for her seat in federal parliament?

NOISE, n. A stench in the ear. Undomesticated music. The chief product and authenticating sign of civilisation.

Something that politicians can be bipartisan about? 'A stench in the ear'? :)

NOMINATE, v. To designate for the heaviest political assessment. To put forward a suitable person to incur the mudgobbling and deadcatting of the opposition.

Peter Slipper.

NOMINEE, n. A modest gentleman shrinking from the distinction of private life and diligently seeking the honourable obscurity of public office.

Peter Slipper?

NOTORIETY, n. The fame of one's competitor for public honours. The kind of renown most accessible and acceptable to mediocrity. A Jacob's Ladder leading to the vaudeville stage, with angels ascending and descending.

NOVEMBER, n. The eleventh twelfth of a weariness.



OATH, n. In law, a solemn appeal to the Deity, made binding upon the conscience by a penalty for perjury.

If Tony Abbott knew this when he made his 'Blood Oath' to repeal the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, will he be abashed before his deity if he fails to do so?

OBLIVION, n. The state or condition in which the wicked cease from struggling and the dreary are at rest. Fame's eternal dumping ground. Cold storage for high hopes. A place where ambitious authors meet their works without pride and their betters without envy. A dormitory without an alarm clock.

OBSESSED, pp. Vexed by an evil spirit, like the Gadarene swine and other critics. Obsession was once more common than it is now. Arasthus tells of a peasant who was occupied by a different devil for every day in the week, and on Sundays by two. They were frequently seen, always walking in his shadow, when he had one, but were finally driven away by the village notary, a holy man; but they took the peasant with them, for he vanished utterly. A devil thrown out of a woman by the Archbishop of Rheims ran through the trees, pursued by a hundred persons, until the open country was reached, where by a leap higher than a church spire he escaped into a bird. A chaplain in Cromwell's army exorcised a soldier's obsessing devil by throwing the soldier into the water, when the devil came to the surface. The soldier, unfortunately, did not.

I guess this is why Tony Abbott has a shadow at all. As he is truly obsessed. Otherwise, he would not, as he is a Hollow Man.

OBSTINATE, adj. Inaccessible to the truth as it is manifest in the splendour and stress of our advocacy. Almost every Question Time that has passed this parliamentary year has seen a display of mule-headed obstinacy and strident advocacy from Tony Abbott. And that, the more strenuous he was in his advocacy, the further away he was from the truth.

OCCIDENT, n. The part of the world lying west (or east) of the Orient. It is largely inhabited by Christians, a powerful sub-tribe of the Hypocrites, whose principal industries are murder and cheating, which they are pleased to call "war" and "commerce." These, also, are the principal industries of the Orient.

OLD, adj. In that stage of usefulness which is not inconsistent with general inefficiency, as an old man. Discredited by lapse of time and offensive to the popular taste, as an old book.



"Old books? The devil take them!" Goby said.

"Fresh every day must be my books and bread."

Nature herself approves the Goby rule

And gives us every moment a fresh fool.

—Harley Shum,


OLEAGINOUS, adj. Oily, smooth, sleek.

Disraeli once described the manner of Bishop Wilberforce as "unctuous, oleaginous, saponaceous." And the good prelate was ever afterward known as Soapy Sam. For every man there is something in the vocabulary that would stick to him like a second skin. His enemies have only to find it.

OMEN, n. A sign that something will happen if nothing happens.

The Canberra Press Gallery are very good at relaying, to a breathless public, what the political omens portend. They keep at it, I think, so that you don't remember that they have been wrong before. Often.

ONCE, adv. Enough.

Tony Abbott Censure Motions for 2012. Please!

OPPORTUNITY, n. A favourable occasion for grasping a disappointment.

Tony Abbott seizes every opportunity afforded him, it seems.

OPPOSE, v. To assist with obstructions and objections.

OPPOSITION, n. In politics the party that prevents the Government from running amuck by hamstringing it.

The King of Ghargaroo, who had been abroad to study the science of government, appointed one hundred of his fattest subjects as members of a parliament to make laws for the collection of revenue. Forty of these he named the Party of Opposition and had his Prime Minister carefully instruct them in their duty of opposing every royal measure. Nevertheless, the first one that was submitted passed unanimously. Greatly displeased, the King vetoed it, informing the Opposition that if they did that again they would pay for their obstinacy with their heads. The entire forty promptly disembowelled themselves.

"What shall we do now?" the King asked. "Liberal institutions cannot be maintained without a party of Opposition." 

"Splendour of the universe," replied the Prime Minister, "it is true these dogs of darkness have no longer their credentials, but all is not lost. Leave the matter to this worm of the dust."

 So the Minister had the bodies of his Majesty's Opposition embalmed and stuffed with straw, put back into the seats of power and nailed there. Forty votes were recorded against every bill and the nation prospered. But one day a bill imposing a tax on warts was defeated — the members of the Government party had not been nailed to their seats! This so enraged the King that the Prime Minister was put to death, the parliament was dissolved with a battery of artillery, and government of the people, by the people, for the people perished from Ghargaroo.

ORATORY, n. A conspiracy between speech and action to cheat the understanding. A tyranny tempered by stenography.

Which is why Tony Abbott is such a superior orator to the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

OUTDO, v.t. To make an enemy.

Julia Gillard is Tony Abbott’s and Kevin Rudd's biggest enemy we keep getting told.



PAIN, n. An uncomfortable frame of mind that may have a physical basis in something that is being done to the body, or may be purely mental, caused by the good fortune of another.

I guess that means Tony Abbott was in a world of pain when he saw the last Newspoll results, even if he has been steadfastly acting as though they never happened.

PALMISTRY, n. The 947th method (according to Mimbleshaw's classification) of obtaining money by false pretences. It consists in "reading character" in the wrinkles made by closing the hand. The pretence is not altogether false; character can really be read very accurately in this way, for the wrinkles in every hand submitted plainly spell the word "dupe." The imposture consists in not reading it aloud.

There's nothing particularly political in this one except to say the word, 'Newspoll', again.

PANDEMONIUM, n. Literally, the Place of All the Demons. Most of them have escaped into politics and finance, and the place is now used as a lecture hall by the Audible Reformer. When disturbed by his voice the ancient echoes clamor appropriate responses most gratifying to his pride of distinction.

PANTHEISM, n. The doctrine that everything is God, in contradistinction to the doctrine that God is everything.

Or, Talk Turkey, should that be, 'Everything is Dog'?

PAST, n. That part of Eternity with some small fraction of which we have a slight and regrettable acquaintance. A moving line called the Present parts it from an imaginary period known as the Future. These two grand divisions of Eternity, of which the one is continually effacing the other, are entirely unlike. The one is dark with sorrow and disappointment, the other bright with prosperity and joy. The Past is the region of sobs, the Future is the realm of song. In the one crouches Memory, clad in sackcloth and ashes, mumbling penitential prayer; in the sunshine of the other Hope flies with a free wing, beckoning to temples of success and bowers of ease. Yet the Past is the Future of yesterday, the Future is the Past of to-morrow. They are one — the knowledge and the dream.

PATIENCE, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.

PATRIOT, n. One to whom the interests of a part seem superior to those of the whole. The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.

The rise of the 'Patriot' in modern political nomenclature is entirely a construct of the Conservatives in every country.

PEACE, n. In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.



O, what's the loud uproar assailing

Mine ears without cease?

'Tis the voice of the hopeful, all-hailing

The horrors of peace.


Ah, Peace Universal; they woo it —

Would marry it, too.

If only they knew how to do it

'Twere easy to do.


I'll still keep a light burning in my soul for Peace, nevertheless.

PERORATION, n. The explosion of an oratorical rocket. It dazzles, but to an observer having the wrong kind of nose its most conspicuous peculiarity is the smell of the several kinds of powder used in preparing it.

And yes, it is said, some of us respond differently to Tony Abbott's perorations than others. Some of us can smell a rat.

PERSEVERANCE, n. A lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success.

PESSIMISM, n. A philosophy forced upon the convictions of the observer by the disheartening prevalence of the optimist with his scarecrow hope and his unsightly smile.

As do I feel whenever I see and hear the ever-optimistic Mr Abbott.

PHILISTINE, n. One whose mind is the creature of its environment, following the fashion in thought, feeling and sentiment. He is sometimes learned, frequently prosperous, commonly clean and always solemn.

The devout Christian, Tony Abbott, would recoil in horror at being called a Philistine, but a Philistine I think he is. And he keeps company with other similar creatures at News Ltd.

PILLORY, n. A mechanical device for inflicting personal distinction — prototype of the modern newspaper conducted by persons of austere virtues and blameless lives.

Birds of a feather, News Ltd and Tony Abbott, pillory together.

PITIFUL, adj. The state of an enemy or opponent after an imaginary encounter with oneself.

PLAGIARIZE, v. To take the thought or style of another writer whom one has never, never read.

PLATITUDE, n. The fundamental element and special glory of popular literature. A thought that snores in words that smoke. The wisdom of a million fools in the diction of a dullard. A fossil sentiment in artificial rock. A moral without the fable. All that is mortal of a departed truth. A demi-tasse of milk-and-mortality. The Pope's-nose of a featherless peacock. A jelly-fish withering on the shore of the sea of thought. The cackle surviving the egg. A desiccated epigram.

PLEBISCITE, n. A popular vote to ascertain the will of the sovereign.

Or, in Tony Abbott's case, 'A popular vote to ascertain the will of Tony Abbott'. Now, I wonder what has happened to it? I thought the people would continue revolting until they got one? Well, let me just say, a whole 112 people turned up to an Anti Carbon Tax Rally to revolt outside the ALP National Conference the other day.

PLEONASM, n. An army of words escorting a corporal of thought.

POLITENESS, n. The most acceptable hypocrisy.

POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

POLITICIAN, n. An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organised society is reared. When he wriggles he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice. As compared with the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive.

POSITIVISM, n. A philosophy that denies our knowledge of the Real and affirms our ignorance of the Apparent.

PRECEDENT, n. In Law, a previous decision, rule or practice which, in the absence of a definite statute, has whatever force and authority a Judge may choose to give it, thereby greatly simplifying his task of doing as he pleases. As there are precedents for everything, he has only to ignore those that make against his interest and accentuate those in the line of his desire. Invention of the precedent elevates the trial-at-law from the low estate of a fortuitous ordeal to the noble attitude of a dirigible arbitrament.

I include this for all who believe lawyers and judges who rely on Precedent, and note that it is an interminable web which, having been spun, is bedevilling America.

PREDICAMENT, n. The wage of consistency.

PREFERENCE, n. A sentiment, or frame of mind, induced by the erroneous belief that one thing is better than another.

An ancient philosopher, expounding his conviction that life is no better than death, was asked by a disciple why, then, he did not die. "Because," he replied, "death is no better than life."
 It is longer.

PREJUDICE, n. A vagrant opinion without visible means of support.

My favourite definition.

PRESENT, n. That part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope.

PRICE, n. Value, plus a reasonable sum for the wear and tear of conscience in demanding it.

PRISON, n. A place of punishments and rewards. The poet assures us that —

"Stone walls do not a prison make,"

but a combination of the stone wall, the political parasite and the moral instructor is no garden of sweets.

In my humble opinion Australia would become a virtual prison if the Coalition came to power again too soon, like before 2016.

PUSH, n. One of the two things mainly conducive to success, especially in politics. The other is Pull.



QUEEN, n. A woman by whom the realm is ruled when there is a king, and through whom it is ruled when there is not.

Which is why Australia cannot break her shackles and become a Republic. She rules with an iron will. Sigh.

QUILL, n. An implement of torture yielded by a goose and commonly wielded by an ass. This use of the quill is now obsolete, but its modern equivalent, the steel pen, is wielded by the same everlasting Presence.

I dedicate this one to all our erstwhile Australian journalists and editors. Which includes Tony Abbott, of course.

To be fair, it also includes me, at times.

QUIVER, n. A portable sheath in which the ancient statesman and the aboriginal lawyer carried their lighter arguments.

He extracted from his quiver,

Did the controversial Roman,

An argument well fitted

To the question as submitted,
Then addressed it to the liver,

 Of the unpersuaded foeman.

 —Oglum P. Boomp


I like to think that Julia Gillard's behaviour in Question Time equates to this scenario. It's just such a pity that not many people get to see the verbal jousting.



RADICALISM, n. The conservatism of to-morrow injected into the affairs of to-day.

RAILROAD, n. The chief of many mechanical devices enabling us to get away from where we are to where we are no better off. For this purpose the railroad is held in highest favour by the optimist, for it permits him to make the transit with great expedition.

I included this one for 2353.

RANK, n. Relative elevation in the scale of human worth.



He held at court a rank so high

That other noblemen asked why.

"Because," 'twas answered, "others lack

His skill to scratch the royal back."

—Aramis Jukes


There are still too many people of high rank in this world.

All I can hope for is that if this country is benighted with an Abbott government that he doesn't beknight himself if he decides to bring back Imperial Honours.

RAPACITY, n. Providence without industry. The thrift of power.

Seriously, this definition flashed before my eyes when watching the second last sitting day of the most recent parliamentary session, and Tony Abbott was in full rhetorical flight, bellowing repeatedly at the Prime Minister, “Take it! Take it!”. Honestly, I could not get the image of the man as a virtual verbal rapist out of my mind for days. Still can't. Maybe it'll fade. I hope so. It was truly terrifying to watch. Especially on 'White Ribbon Day'.

RASCAL, n. A fool considered under another aspect.

Tony Abbott is no fool, and he is not the harmless rascal he has people to make him out to be.

RASCALITY, n. Stupidity militant. The activity of a clouded intellect.

This, on the other hand, is Tony Abbott all over.

RATIONAL, adj. Devoid of all delusions save those of observation, experience and reflection.

I am glad our Prime Minister is entirely rational.

REALITY, n. The dream of a mad philosopher. That which would remain in the cupel if one should assay a phantom. The nucleus of a vacuum.

REALLY, adv. Apparently.

The certitudes of Tony Abbott fall into this category.

REASON, v.t. To weight probabilities in the scales of desire.

REASON, n. Propensitate of prejudice.

REASONABLE, adj. Accessible to the infection of our own opinions. Hospitable to persuasion, dissuasion and evasion.

REBEL, n. A proponent of a new misrule who has failed to establish it.

I find Tony Abbott's notion of 'Guided Democracy' a rebellious concept in the prospect.

RECOLLECT, v. To recall with additions something not previously known.

I believe that the media's recollection of Julia Gillard's 'Carbon Tax' 'promise' to fall into this category.

RECONSIDER, v. To seek a justification for a decision already made.

REFERENDUM, n. A law for submission of proposed legislation to a popular vote to learn the nonsensus of public opinion.

REFLECTION, n. An action of the mind whereby we obtain a clearer view of our relation to the things of yesterday and are able to avoid the perils that we shall not again encounter.

RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.

REPARTEE, n. Prudent insult in retort. Practised by gentlemen with a constitutional aversion to violence, but a strong disposition to offend.

REPRESENTATIVE, n. In national politics, a member of the Lower House in this world, and without discernible hope of promotion in the next.

REPUBLIC, n. A nation in which the thing governing and the thing governed being the same, there is only a permitted authority to enforce an optional obedience. In a republic, the foundation of public order is the ever lessening habit of submission inherited from ancestors who, being truly governed, submitted because they had to. There are as many kinds of republics as there are graduations between the despotism whence they came and the anarchy whither they lead.

Now I get it. Australians couldn't make up their minds about a Republic because they couldn't agree where on the above spectrum they wanted us to land.

RESPONSIBILITY, n. A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one's neighbour. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star.

I am reminded by this definition of what I consider Tony Abbott's motto to be: 'All Care and No Responsibility'.

REVERENCE, n. The spiritual attitude of a man to a god and a dog to a man.

ROSTRUM, n. In Latin, the beak of a bird or the prow of a ship. In America, a place from which a candidate for office energetically expounds the wisdom, virtue and power of the rabble.

Or, in Australia, the place where the candidate for Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, stands outside Parliament House and preaches to 'The Convoy of No Consequence'.

RUMOR, n. A favorite weapon of the assassins of character.



Sharp, irresistible by mail or shield,

By guard unparried as by flight unstayed,

O serviceable Rumor, let me wield

Against my enemy no other blade.

His be the terror of a foe unseen,

His the inutile hand upon the hilt,

And mine the deadly tongue, long, slender, keen,

Hinting a rumor of some ancient guilt.

So shall I slay the wretch without a blow,

Spare me to celebrate his overthrow,

And nurse my valor for another foe.

 —Joel Buxter


The Murdoch media's most oft-used tool of destabilisation of the federal Labor government.



SATAN, n. One of the Creator's lamentable mistakes, repented in sackcloth and ashes. Being instated as an archangel, Satan made himself multifariously objectionable and was finally expelled from Heaven. Halfway in his descent he paused, bent his head in thought a moment and at last went back. "There is one favor that I should like to ask," said he.

"Name it."

"Man, I understand, is about to be created. He will need laws."

"What, wretch! you his appointed adversary, charged from the dawn of eternity with hatred of his soul — you ask for the right to make his laws?"

"Pardon; what I have to ask is that he be permitted to make them himself."

It was so ordered.

SAW, n. A trite popular saying, or proverb. (Figurative and colloquial.) So called because it makes its way into a wooden head. Following are examples of old saws fitted with new teeth.


A penny saved is a penny to squander.


A man is known by the company that he organizes.


A bad workman quarrels with the man who calls him that.



A bird in the hand is worth what it will bring.



Better late than before anybody has invited you.



Example is better than following it.



Half a loaf is better than a whole one if there is much else.



Think twice before you speak to a friend in need.


What is worth doing is worth the trouble of asking somebody to do it.



Least said is soonest disavowed.



He laughs best who laughs least.



Speak of the Devil and he will hear about it.


Of two evils choose to be the least.



Strike while your employer has a big contract.



Where there's a will there's a won't.


SCRIBBLER, n. A professional writer whose views are antagonistic to one's own.

The 4th Estate V The 5th Estate, and vice versa.

SELF-ESTEEM, n. An erroneous appraisement.

SELF-EVIDENT, adj. Evident to one's self and to nobody else.

SELFISH, adj. Devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others.

SLANG, n. The grunt of the human hog (Pignoramus intolerabilis) with an audible memory. The speech of one who utters with his tongue what he thinks with his ear, and feels the pride of a creator in accomplishing the feat of a parrot. A means (under Providence) of setting up as a wit without a capital of sense.

I will merely add that Alan Jones' nickname is 'The Parrot'.

SOPHISTRY, n. The controversial method of an opponent, distinguished from one's own by superior insincerity and fooling. This method is that of the later Sophists, a Grecian sect of philosophers who began by teaching wisdom, prudence, science, art and, in brief, whatever men ought to know, but lost themselves in a maze of quibbles and a fog of words.


His bad opponent's "facts" he sweeps away,

And drags his sophistry to light of day;

Then swears they're pushed to madness who resort

To falsehood of so desperate a sort.

Not so; like sods upon a dead man's breast,

He lies most lightly who the least is pressed.

—Polydore Smith


SUFFRAGE, n. Expression of opinion by means of a ballot. The right of suffrage (which is held to be both a privilege and a duty) means, as commonly interpreted, the right to vote for the man of another man's choice, and is highly prized.

SYCOPHANT, n. One who approaches Greatness on his belly so that he may not be commanded to turn and be kicked. He is sometimes an editor.

He is sometimes an editor in the Murdoch media empire.



TALK, v.t. To commit an indiscretion without temptation, from an impulse without purpose.

TRUCE, n. Friendship.

TRUTH, n. An ingenious compound of desirability and appearance. Discovery of truth is the sole purpose of philosophy, which is the most ancient occupation of the human mind and has a fair prospect of existing with increasing activity to the end of time.

TRUTHFUL, adj. Dumb and illiterate.

Which is why Tony Abbott wants to keep them that way and from getting an education.



ULTIMATUM, n. In diplomacy, a last demand before resorting to concessions.



VANITY, n. The tribute of a fool to the worth of the nearest ass.



They say that hens do cackle loudest when

There's nothing vital in the eggs they've laid;

And there are hens, professing to have made

A study of mankind, who say that men

Whose business 'tis to drive the tongue or pen

Make the most clamorous fanfaronade

O'er their most worthless work; and I'm afraid

They're not entirely different from the hen.

Lo! the drum-major in his coat of gold,

His blazing breeches and high-towering cap —

Imperiously pompous, grandly bold,

Grim, resolute, an awe-inspiring chap!

Who'd think this gorgeous creature's only virtue

Is that in battle he will never hurt you?

—Hannibal Hunsiker


The only thing I can think of when I read this is Tony Abbott in his variety of costumes.

VOTE, n. The instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.



WALL STREET, n. A symbol for sin for every devil to rebuke. That Wall Street is a den of thieves is a belief that serves every unsuccessful thief in place of a hope in Heaven.

Nothing much has changed in 100 years.

WAR, n. A by-product of the arts of peace. The most menacing political condition is a period of international amity. The student of history who has not been taught to expect the unexpected may justly boast himself inaccessible to the light. "In time of peace prepare for war" has a deeper meaning than is commonly discerned; it means, not merely that all things earthly have an end — that change is the one immutable and eternal law — but that the soil of peace is thickly sown with the seeds of war and singularly suited to their germination and growth. It was when Kubla Khan had decreed his "stately pleasure dome" — when, that is to say, there were peace and fat feasting in Xanadu — that he
heard from afar
Ancestral voices prophesying war.

One of the greatest of poets, Coleridge was one of the wisest of men, and it was not for nothing that he read us this parable. Let us have a little less of "hands across the sea," and a little more of that elemental distrust that is the security of nations. War loves to come like a thief in the night; professions of eternal amity provide the night.

WEAKNESSES, n.pl. Certain primal powers of Tyrant Woman wherewith she holds dominion over the male of her species, binding him to the service of her will and paralyzing his rebellious energies.

Don't believe a word of it! (Says the self-interested stenographer of the lexicographer).

WHITE, adj. and, n. Black.

WITCH, n. (1) Any ugly and repulsive old woman, in a wicked league with the devil. (2) A beautiful and attractive young woman, in wickedness a league beyond the devil.

The Witch has become a popular theme in politics of late when it comes to negatively characterising female politicians, such as our own Prime Minister, and others. It amuses me, that as the Conservative female end of the political spectrum have adopted the tools of the plastic surgeon (they can't all be so uniformly youthful, good-looking and conforming to standardised norms of beauty, can they?), in order to appeal to the electorate on the 'political pole dancer' level, the negative characterisation of Progressive female politicians, who don't place as much store in good looks, as 'Witches', has come to the fore again and proceeded apace. It is also distastefully redolent of the Salem era of dealing with powerful women.

Which just goes to show that everything old is new again with Conservatives. As this interesting article explains well with respect to negative ad campaigns which are developed to be used against female political aspirants:

WOMAN, n. 

An animal usually living in the vicinity of Man, and having a rudimentary susceptibility to domestication. It is credited by many of the elder zoologists with a certain vestigial docility acquired in a former state of seclusion, but naturalists of the postsusananthony period, having no knowledge of the seclusion, deny the virtue and declare that such as creation's dawn beheld, it roareth now. The species is the most widely distributed of all beasts of prey, infesting all habitable parts of the globe, from Greenland's spicy mountains to India's moral strand. The popular name (wolfman) is incorrect, for the creature is of the cat kind. The woman is lithe and graceful in its movement, especially the American variety (felis pugnans), is omnivorous and can be taught not to talk.
 —Balthasar Pober



X in our alphabet being a needless letter has an added invincibility to the attacks of the spelling reformers, and like them, will doubtless last as long as the language. X is the sacred symbol of ten dollars, and in such words as Xmas, Xn, etc., stands for Christ, not, as is popular supposed, because it represents a cross, but because the corresponding letter in the Greek alphabet is the initial of his name — Xristos. If it represented a cross it would stand for St. Andrew, who "testified" upon one of that shape.

This is my Xmas inclusion.



YEAR, n. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.

YESTERDAY, n. The infancy of youth, the youth of manhood, the entire past of age.



ZANY, n. A popular character in old Italian plays, who imitated with ludicrous incompetence the buffone, or clown, and was therefore the ape of an ape; for the clown himself imitated the serious characters of the play. The zany was progenitor to the specialist in humor, as we to-day have the unhappiness to know him. In the zany we see an example of creation; in the humorist, of transmission. Another excellent specimen of the modern zany is the curate, who apes the rector, who apes the bishop, who apes the archbishop, who apes the devil.

You have to rewrite that last sentence when referring to our own local political scene to become:

'Another excellent specimen of the modern zany is the curate, who apes the rector, who apes the Bishop,J., who apes the Abbott,T., who apes the Archbishop Cardinal Pell, who apes the devil.'

ZEAL, n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.



When Zeal sought Gratitude for his reward

He went away exclaiming: "O my Lord!"

"What do you want?" the Lord asked, bending down.

"An ointment for my cracked and bleeding crown."
—Jum Coople


And that's the bleedin' end of The Abridged Devil's Dictionary. Hope you enjoyed it.

Merry Xmas everyone!