Articles on Political speech

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Tony Abbott has twice compared Islamic State to the Nazis, but does that aid our understanding of terrorism and what needs to be done to defeat it? AAP/Richard Wainwright

When words fail: comparing Islamic State to the Nazis misses the mark

We need to find ways of speaking about the horrific actions of Islamic State that help, not hinder, understanding of the magnitude of those crimes and what needs to be done to combat them.
Liberalism means something completely different in South Africa compared with the US and UK, and has racist connotations. shutterstock

Navigating South Africa’s loaded political lexicon

Liberalism is a dirty word for the majority of South Africans. This goes back to early colonialism. Liberals opposed apartheid but not the close relationship between capitalism and apartheid.
The public response to the eulogies to Gough Whitlam testifies to the power of oratory that draws on and gives fresh life to memory. AAP/Alan Porritt

Memoria in Memoriam: Whitlam’s farewell invokes power of oratory

In a playful rhetorical flourish at the Sydney Town Hall on Wednesday, Indigenous leader Noel Pearson monumentalised Gough Whitlam’s prime ministerial legacy, Monty Python-style: What did the Romans ever…
Noel Pearson’s speech has been hailed as one of the great Australian political speeches. What were its stylistic characteristics? AAP Image/Fairfax Pool, Peter Rae

A closer look at Noel Pearson’s eulogy for Gough Whitlam

Gough Whitlam was a prime minister unsuccessful in three of his five federal election campaigns, including 1975’s extremely divisive contest. Somehow, though, his death has sparked an outpouring of kind…
There is little doubt that Tony Abbott – the pugilist, rugby player and ironman – has sport in mind when he describes Australia as a team. AAP/Julian Smith

Dead Poets Society meets Team Australia under captain Abbott

Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott is uncommonly fond of sport metaphors, not least when addressing the domestic terror threat. His latest championing of “Team Australia” in trying to sell his government’s…
Tony Abbott’s smiling now, but if his hold on the leadership weakens some say the Coalition should go back to Malcolm Turnbull. AAP/Gary Schafer

Why spin trumps policy – until we build a new system of substance

Spin is widely seen as the scourge of contemporary politics. We rail at politicians who seem more intent on appearing to act, rather than coming up with and pushing through important policy decisions…
Joe Hockey’s budget speech forgot the age-old rules of rhetoric, which he needed to observe if he wanted to control ‘the narrative’. Lukas Coch/AAP

In government, a mantra is not enough to control the narrative

The annual federal budget speech is the one required speech of the Australian political calendar. And it goes all the way back to Federation. It’s Australia’s equivalent of the State of the Union address…

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