25 September 2023

Speechmaking with impact

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There are times when a speech has a profound impact.

It was thus when author Richard Flanagan addressed a small audience at the National Press Club in Canberra that had the biggest impact across twitter, the internet and requests for a transcript.

It is available online and worth your time, the chance to reflect on so many aspects of our attitudes, political dysfunction and our Indigenous history we must acknowledge.

And as Anzac Day looms I re-read his Man Booker Prize winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North to reflect on the impact it had on my understanding of my uncle, a ‘survivor’ of the Burma Railway, albeit a broken man.

For Amnesty International, Gillian Triggs, former President of the Human Rights Commission spoke for an Australian Bill of Rights.

Former Chief Minister of the ACT, Jon Stanhope enshrined Canberra’s in the ACT 15 years ago and Professor Triggs is convinced a bill of rights can be adopted Australia wide.

And while the Prime Minister is ‘touring’ abroad – his Anzac Day will be spent in Villers-Brettoneux to open the $100 million Monash Centre – Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack was speaking about “stronger regions make for a stronger Australia” in his capacity as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.

A ‘build it and they will come’ kind of mantra.

I’ll stick with the wisdom of Richard Flanagan and Gillian Triggs.

We need their ilk to keep the rhetoric of what Flanagan calls the “preening peloton of potential leaders, but nowhere is there to be found leadership” in perspective.

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