• Mutually assured destruction
    A few years ago, we were in Canada. One cool and wet day in
    St Jacobs, Ontario (a couple of hours west of Toronto), we walked
    into a building dedicated to The Mennonite Story because it
    looked dry and warm inside. Unsurprisingly, the building went someway
    towards explaining the history and beliefs of the Mennonite Church
  • Is adversarial politics damaging our democracy?
    It was twelve years ago that I wrote ‘Is adversarial politics
    damaging our democracy?’ Some of that piece is reproduced
    below because recent political events demonstrate that its
    messages are as relevant today as they were then.
  • Nationalism really isn't easy
    If you said that someone has money to burn, you mean that
    they have far more money than they need or that they simply
    spend their money on things that you think are unnecessary
    or not socially acceptable.
  • The Trump dilemma
    Don’t get me wrong. Trump is not the dilemma to which I’m referring. His
    behaviour is no longer a quandary. With every word he utters, with every
    tweet, he confirms that his mental state continues to deteriorate to the point
    where commentator after commentator expresses astonishment and alarm at his
    outlandish reactions to the social and political environment in which he finds himself.
  • Information and critical thinking do matter
    When Prime Minister Morrison was advised there was the risk of uncontrolled
    spread of a deadly pandemic on the horizon early this year, he was slightly
    wiser than at Christmas when he left a burning Australia in the ‘capable’
    hands of Deputy Prime Minister and National Party Leader Michael McCormack.
  • Morrison morphs into ‘Strict Father’ mode
    Back in 2013, I wrote a piece with the curious title:
    The myth of political sameness.
    Its purpose was to debunk the commonly held
    view that ‘politicians are all the same’.

The Political Sword

Get the inside track on the media and government.

The Gillard - Rudd comparative scorecard

Among the countless words that have been written and uttered since the contest between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd for leadership became overt, where have you read a comprehensive comparison of the two? All we have had is brief written accounts, short interviews, multiple sound bites of how the lea...

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Tony Abbott, we are sick of your lies

It is absurdly ironic that you, the one who has admitted on national TV that sometimes you do not tell the truth, should spend so much of your time and energy demonizing Julia Gillard as an inveterate liar, not to be trusted, even picking up on your favourite shock jock’s tag: ‘Ju-liar&r...

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Abbott’s amazing amnesia on insulation inquiry

Federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, developed an amazing amnesia about the repeated Opposition calls for a Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program (HIP). Just 53 days after the call on June 16, 2010 by Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage, Greg Hunt, for a Roya...

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Absurdities abound as Abbott wages a crass war

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is becoming more absurd every time he attacks the Home Insulation Program (HIP). The latest examples were his exaggerated claims about the HIP on November 24, 2011 in the House of Representatives and his January 31, 2012 address to the National Press Club. In introduc...

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How opinion polls poison politics

Imagine this – a political world free of opinion polls seeking voting intentions and leadership preferences. What would journalists write about? Would they, as they once did, revert to writing about genuine political issues, giving their readers the facts and their well-reasoned analysis of th...

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Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats and contemporary politics

Most people will have heard of Edward de Bono’s concept of parallel thinking, but fewer will know about his Six Thinking Hats Method of discourse. This piece is to explain this method and to suggest how it might be engaged to improve the quality of political debate among politicians, or if tha...

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What then makes a good political speech? An analysis

Over the change-of-year break, we have had the opportunity to appraise several political speeches. Some of you have ventured an opinion about the characteristics of a ‘good’ speech. Some have given straightforward advice about how to create such speeches; for others, creating good speech...

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What makes a good political speech? Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

This is the last in the series of change-of-year speeches. Some may consider it solely religious, but the scribes and Pharisees would have seen it as highly political. Compare it with the others in the series. Would you, as many do, rate it as the best speech of all time? Here is the source. It is ...

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What makes a good political speech? Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech

Although it was only 278 words and took only two minutes to deliver, US President Abraham Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg is regarded as one of the finest in American political history. It was given on Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Ge...

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What makes a good political speech? Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech

Martin Luther King’s famous speech, delivered on 28 August 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. to a vast throng, is classed as one of the top ten speeches of all time; some would place it near the top. Here it is. The source is here. I am happy to join with you today in what will g...

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What makes a good political speech? PM Keating’s Redfern speech

This is a further speech for your appraisal in our change-of-year series of political speeches. Like the Kevin Rudd speech, it is about indigenous issues. Although there is still controversy about its authorship – between Paul Keating’s speech writer Don Watson and Keating himself &ndash...

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What makes a good political speech? PM Kevin Rudd’s Apology

This is the next in our change-of-year series of political speeches. Only the most bigoted amongst us were not moved by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Apology to Australia’s indigenous peoples. It was widely regarded as an inspiring speech to parliament, one that brought the tears to count...

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New Year Greetings from The Political Sword

Greetings on New Year’s Day 2012 from The Political Sword. We wish all visitors a Happy New Year and a Productive and Satisfying 2012. 2012 will be an important year in Federal Politics, a year when our views need to be expressed. The Fifth Estate is playing an increasingly significant role i...

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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 ...

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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 commen...

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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...

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Julia Gillard's Vision for the Asian Century

The search for the Gillard ‘narrative’ goes on. It seems that journalists, almost as a matter of course, need to include in their pieces some reference to the ‘narrative’, or the lack of it, or feel they must ask yet again: ‘What does she stand for?’ After all the...

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A Soldier of Ill-Fortune

The art of bomb disposal has come a long way since the days of “Dad’s Army”. Indeed, it’s all high-tech now, which is unfortunate for Tony Abbott, as he has admitted he is “no tech-head”. So, Tones went to the Australian Army base at Tarim Kowt in Afghanistan to see how the e...

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You Can Never Keep A Devil Down - Part 2 of 'The Devil's Dictionary' by Ambrose Bierce - E-M

Now that we have moved on, in the Multicultural calendar from Halloween to Thanksgiving, (and don't you just love the family photo of the Skeleton family celebrating Thanksgiving?), and in the warm after glow of this week's past visit by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, I though...

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Supping from the Drinking Gourd

Barack Obama, the President of the USA, has just completed his trip Down Under and is intrigued by the nature of Industrial Relations here. Having returned to the States, he gets wind of a couple of Aussie outfits that have acquired large cotton plantations and ranches in the Deep South in Lou...

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