Anne Summers: The Political Persecution Of Australia’s First Female PM

This is the video of Dr. Anne Summers’ Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture at the University of Newcastle.

The speech is titled: “Her Rights At Work: The Political Persecution of Australia’s First Female Prime Minister”.

Summers says: “In this lecture I want to examine what I contend is the sexist and discriminatory treatment of Australia’s first female prime minister by the Opposition and by some elements in Australian society.”

Malcolm Turnbull Pays Tribute To Robert Hughes

Malcolm Turnbull has delivered a moving tribute to Robert Hughes in the House of Representatives today.

Malcolm Turnbull

Hughes, writer and art critic, died on August 6, aged 74.

Turnbull’s wife, Lucy, was Hughes’s niece. Hughes’s brother, Tom, the Sydney barrister and a former Liberal member of the House (1963-72), was in the public gallery with his wife during the condolence motion.

  • Listen to Turnbull’s tribute (13m)

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Tom Hughes and wife

Malcolm Turnbull

Text of Malcolm Turnbull’s tribute to Robert Hughes in the House of Representatives.

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth) (14:21): Can I thank, on behalf of Bob’s family, the very generous words of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the minister. Bob would have been very chuffed to hear them, if a little bemused. He was the youngest of four. His brother Tom who is with us today with his wife, Chrissie, Lucy’s father, the elder by 15 years, became in effect in loco parentis after Bob’s father, Geoffrey, died when he was only 12.

Bob’s father, Geoffrey, was a hero, and not just to his youngest son. He had been a fighter ace in the First World War and among his many victories had shot down no less than Lothar von Richthofen, the brother of the Red Baron himself.

The Hughes family were staunch and pious Catholics. Bob’s great-grandfather, John, had made a fortune, but as Bob often lamented, had given away most of it in building churches and schools. John had established the Order of the Sacred Heart in Australia, his daughters had become nuns and the Hughes family home, Kincoppal, had become a convent and a school. If John Hughes was not in heaven, Bob often said, God didn’t know the value of money. [Read more…]

Words Matter: Bill Clinton

In light of the Arizona shootings, there is considerable discussion in the media about the influence of violent and aggressive speech in political debate.

This is an extract from a speech given by former President Bill Clinton to the Center for American Progress Action Fund in April 2010:

Clinton talked of the role of right-wing media and radio talkback hosts in the 1990s. He said participants in the political debate need to be responsible in their use of rhetoric because it falls on the “serious and the delirious alike”:

We can’t let the debate veer so far into hatred that we lose focus of our common humanity. It’s really important. We can’t ever fudge the fact that there’s a basic line dividing criticism from violence or its advocacy, and that the closer you get to the line and the more responsibility you have, you have to think about the echo chamber in which your words resonate. […]

But what we learned from Oklahoma City is not that we should gag each other or we should reduce our passion for the positions that we hold, but the words we use really do matter because there are — there’s this vast echo chamber, and they go across space, and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike. They fall on the connected and the unhinged alike. And I am not trying to muzzle anybody, but one of the things that the conservatives have always brought to the table in America is that no law can replace personal responsibility. And the more power you have, and the more influence you have, the more responsibility you have.

Clinton spoke of how he had changed his own tendency to refer to “federal bureaucrats” in a disparaging way when he disagreed with some aspect of government policy:

Oklahoma City proved that beyond the law, there is no freedom, and there is a difference between criticizing a policy or a politician, and demonizing the government that guarantees our freedoms and the public servants who implement them. And the more prominence you have in politics or media or some other pillar of public life, the more you have to keep that in mind. I acknowledged that in my political career, I had more on than one occasion, in the face of a government policy I disagreed with or a practice that I thought was insensitive, referred in a disparaging way generally to “federal bureaucrats,” as if all of them were arrogant or insensitive or unresponsive, and I have never done it again. You could not read the stories of the lives of the people who perished in Oklahoma City and not respond in that way.

Political Speeches of 2010: RN Breakfast Discussion

I appeared on Radio National’s Breakfast show this morning, discussing 2010’s political speeches with Julian Morrow.

As it happened, the discussion was somewhat rushed and much of what we intended to discuss wasn’t covered. The selection of clips was truncated. For example, we were intending to discuss the Oakeshott and Windsor speeches from Decision Day on September 7, and we intended to finish with Barack Obama’s Indonesia speech.

Click the PLAY button to listen to the discussion:

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The One Ronnie in the Blackberry Sketch

The BBC has an online report today about the decline of puns in modern comedy.

The story was prompted by the return of 80-year-old Ronnie Corbett to television in a Christmas Day special, The One Ronnie.

It’s nothing to do with politics, although the decline of creativity with the language is related, but it’s that time of year. Take a look at the video clip:

Democracy And The Law Threatened By Howard Government: Burnside

In an interview published in The Bulletin magazine today, Julian Burnside QC argues that democracy and the separation of powers is under threat in Australia because of the Howard Government’s attitude to refugees.

Burnside is quoted as saying: “The government has attacked the High Court and the Federal Court. It has politicised the public service, the office of governor-general and the armed forces. What’s left? These are meant to be apolitical arms of government where each functions independently of the others. The current regime does not seem to recognise this”. [Read more…]

Robert Menzies: Politics As An Art

This is the text of an article Robert Menzies wrote on the importance of the art of politics.

Robert Menzies

It was published in the New York Times Magazine on November 28, 1948.

Menzies canvasses the importance of the art of persuasion through oratory and speech-making. Politics, he says, “is both a fine art and an inexact science”. In focussing on the “scientific aspects” of politics, the activities requiring measurement, organisation and planning, it is easy to forget “how to persuade a self-governing people”. [Read more…]