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.