Front cover images: Bob Hawke, ACTU Congress, 15 September 1979 (Fairfax, © Michael Rayner); Gough Whitlam on the steps of Parliament House, 11 November 1975 (Australian Labor Party); Paul Keating, National Press Club, March 1996 Election Campaign (Newspix); John Curtin, wartime rally, 1942 (Fairfax).
Graham Freudenberg, Australia’s greatest speechwriter, says “the Australian Labor Party was built on speeches.” This book brings together great Labor speeches which give voice to the party’s enduring values and achievements, and place it and its principal figures at the centre of historic events.
There are speeches that stir the imagination and inspire, speeches that appeal to humanity, speeches of sorrow and redemption, speeches that urge moderation and caution, speeches that call for courage in the face of adversity, speeches that seek to mute the trumpet sound of war, speeches that attack the forces of conservatism, and speeches which celebrate and mourn the party’s fallen.
- Chris Watson articulates Labor’s purpose as “a light upon a mountain” – four decades before
- Ben Chifley’s famed “light on the hill” speech John Curtin tells a hushed parliament that “a great naval battle is proceeding”
- Gough Whitlam declares “It’s time” for a new Labor government
- Bob Hawke’s urges South Africa’s apartheid leaders to listen to “the spirit of men and women yearning to be free”
- Paul Keating’s belief in Labor as “the people who can dream the big dreams and do the big things”
- Kevin Rudd says “We are Sorry” to the stolen generations of Aboriginal Australians
Clip from the author, reproduced with permission from The Australian:
Foreword – Graham Freudenberg Acknowledgements Preface – Troy Bramston Introduction – Troy Bramston
Gough Whitlam, ‘I put into your hands this piece of the earth itself’, 16 August 1975 Gough Whitlam pours the earth into Vincent Lingiari’s hands at Wattie Creek Paul Keating, ‘It begins, I think, with that act of recognition’, 10 December 1992 Paul Keating’s landmark speech calling for reconciliation at Redfern Park Bob Carr, ‘The right to belong’, 14 November 1996 Bob Carr delivers the first government apology to the stolen generations Kim Beazley, ‘To render justice and restitution’, 28 May 1997 Kim Beazley’s response to the Bringing Them Home report Kevin Rudd, ‘We say sorry’, 13 February 2008 Kevin Rudd’s historic apology to Australia’s indigenous peoples
Reform, Progress and the Future
John (Chris) Watson, ‘For the benefit of the whole of the people of Australia’, 18 May 1904 Labor’s first leader, Chris Watson, outlines the policies of the first national Labor Government Dorothy Tangney, ‘A model for all other democracies to follow’, 24 September 1943 Labor’s first female parliamentarian delivers her first speech in the midst of war Arthur Calwell, ‘We cannot afford to fail’, 2 August 1945 The post-war immigration program, that forever changed the nation, is announced H. V. ‘Doc’ Evatt, ‘No man should be convicted, or deprived of civil rights’, 10 July 1951 In the shining moment of his career, Doc Evatt makes the case against banning the Communist Party of Australia Joe Cahill, ‘A great cultural centre’, 15 June 1957 The indefatigable old-school Labor Premier Joe Cahill delivers the speech that ensures Sydney gets its Opera House Gough Whitlam, ‘The way of the reformer is hard in Australia’, 19 July 1957 An ascendant Gough Whitlam outlines the challenges for modern progressives Don Dunstan, ‘The strength which comes from diversity’, 16 December 1968 Don Dunstan urges a non-discriminatory immigration policy and the end of White Australia Gough Whitlam, ‘To redress past injustice and build a more just and tolerant future’, 31 October 1975 Gough Whitlam gives voice to tolerance and justice at the proclamation of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 Bill Hayden, ‘We cannot achieve social reform unless we competently manage the economy’, 18 July 1979 Bill Hayden repositions the Labor Party in the post-Whitlam years and provides the foundations for government Bob Hawke, ‘Australia’s gravest economic crisis in fifty years’, 11 April 1983 Bob Hawke addresses the National Economic Summit Conference on Australia’s economic challenges Susan Ryan, ‘The principle of the equality of men and women’, 2 June 1983 Susan Ryan introduces the historic Sex Discrimination Bill Bob Hawke, ‘A triumph of compassion over prejudice’, 25 August 1988 Bob Hawke defends Australia’s immigration policy against attacks by the Liberal and National parties Paul Keating, ‘Our Head of State should be one of us’, 7 June 1995 Paul Keating announces to the parliament his government’s vision for an Australian republic Paul Keating, ‘When the government changes, the country changes’, 29 February 1996 Paul Keating, on the eve of the 1996 election, warns the Australian people about the dangers of a Howard Government Kim Beazley, ‘Demonising the reputation of those who work on our waterfront’, 8 April 1998 Bob Carr, ‘A day that will live in industrial infamy’, 8 April 1998 Kim Beazley and Bob Carr defend the rights of unionised workers on the waterfront Mark Latham, ‘The ladder of opportunity’, 29 January 2004 Reflecting strong Labor values and promoting an ambitious policy agenda, Mark Latham makes his case Kevin Rudd, ‘The single greatest threat to our economic security in a generation’, 15 October 2008 Kevin Rudd outlines the government’s response to the emerging Global Financial Crisis
The Campaign Trail
Andrew Fisher, ‘To try and awaken the patriotism of Australians’, 30 March 1909 Andrew Fisher delivers his famous Gympie speech – the first modern election campaign policy speech James Scullin, ‘Parliament has vindicated itself as the guardian of the people’s rights’, 10-12 September 1929 Jim Scullin lashes the Bruce Government as it falls, ahead of Labor winning the subsequent election John Curtin, ‘Victory in war, victory for the peace’, 26 July 1943 John Curtin, battling the storm of war, makes the case for sticking with Labor Ben Chifley, ‘To win the peace for the greater happiness and prosperity of all’, 2 September 1946 Ben Chifley outlines his vision for post-war reconstruction Gough Whitlam, ‘It’s time’, 13 November 1972 Gough Whitlam gives his famous ‘It’s Time’ election policy speech Bob Hawke, ‘National reconciliation, national recovery, national reconstruction’, 16 February 1983 Bob Hawke presents his policies and plans to the nation to defeat Fraserism Paul Keating, ‘The most important election in memory’, 24 February 1993 Paul Keating makes his pitch for a fifth term for Labor Kevin Rudd, ‘A choice between the future and the past’, 14 November 2007 Kevin Rudd delivers Labor’s winning election campaign policy speech
History, Tradition and Ideology
George Black, ‘To make and unmake social conditions’, 16 July 1891 One of Labor’s first parliamentarians, George Black, explains Labor’s role in its formative years James McGowen, ‘We are the representatives of the masses of the workers’, 10 December 1891 NSW Labor’s first premier gives a thoughtful speech on the purpose of the Labor Party Andrew Fisher, ‘We are all socialists now’, 7 July 1908 A triumphant Andrew Fisher ridicules his critics and urges continued progressive reform John (Chris) Watson, ‘A light upon a mountain’, 25 September 1904 Excavated from the archives, Labor’s first leader declares Labor’s vision – half a century before Ben Chifley William Holman, ‘The State as the great instrument for good’, 2-3 April 1906 In the famous debate against George Reid, one of Labor’s finest orators, William Holman, defines Labor’s philosophy Ben Chifley, ‘The light on the hill’, 12 June 1949 Ben Chifley gives the most famous of all Labor speeches Ben Chifley, ‘The things we fight for’, 10 June 1951 In his final speech, Ben Chifley, invokes the Labor cause as the cause of his life John Cain, ‘To thrust a dagger into a Labor Government’, 19 April 1955 Joe Cahill, ‘It is time to unite, not to fight’, 14 August 1955 A tale of two governments during the 1950s Labor split: John Cain, beset by treachery and betrayal, sees his government fall, while Joe Cahill urges the party to remain united, avoids a split and saves his government Gough Whitlam, ‘The impotent are pure’, 9 June 1967 Gough Whitlam delivers his broadside against the Victorian ALP and demands they modernise and reform themselves Gough Whitlam, ‘Human improvement and human progress’, 14 August 1975 Gough Whitlam, only three months before the dismissal, reflects on the struggle of leading a reformist government Bob Hawke, ‘The engine room of national renewal, the generators of change, the pioneers of reform’, 26 June 1991 Bob Hawke presents his political testament and his belief in keeping faith with Labor’s cause Paul Keating, ‘Cracker night’, 16 May 1994 Paul Keating, ‘Down the time tunnel to the future’, 27 February 1992 Paul Keating, in the arena, the statesmen as political brawler, skewering his political opponents Paul Keating, ‘We are the reform party in this country’, 21 March 1992 Paul Keating presents the case for Labor amid the clash of political ideologies over the past century
War and Conflict
William Holman, ‘The most iniquitous, most immoral war ever waged’, 18 October 1899 William Holman opposes, most stridently, the Boer War Andrew Fisher, ‘To our last man and our last shilling’, 31 July 1914 Andrew Fisher, as the storm clouds of war gather, declares his support for King and country T.J Ryan, ‘I am opposed to conscription’, 22 November 1917 T.J. Ryan fights Billy Hughes’ plans for conscription in the First World War John Curtin, ‘The tribute which a grateful country pays to those who have served it’, 11 November 1941 John Curtin opens the Australian War Memorial and pays tribute to the fallen John Curtin, ‘We are at war with Japan’, 8 December 1941 John Curtin announces the beginning of the war in the Pacific John Curtin, ‘Men and women of The United States’, 14 March 1942 John Curtin looks to the United States in this historic broadcast abroad John Curtin, ‘A great naval battle is proceeding’, 8 May 1942 John Curtin announces to a hushed Parliament that the nation may be facing the threat of invasion John Curtin, ‘The compass of the labour movement’, 6 June 1943 In this spellbinding performance, John Curtin invokes the Labor’s values to win support for the war effort John Curtin, ‘The cause of freedom will be victorious’, 10 May 1944 John Curtin, ‘Those 22 yards of turf’, 10 May 1944 John Curtin speaks movingly of the importance of freedom and democracy to a London audience Ben Chifley, ‘The war is over’, 15 August 1945 Ben Chifley announces to the nation that the Second World War has ended Arthur Calwell, ‘On the side of sanity and in the cause of humanity’, 4 May 1965 Arthur Calwell delivers his finest speech, opposing the Vietnam War, and promises Labor will be vindicated Bob Hawke, ‘These hills rang with their voices and ran with their blood’, 25 April 1990 Bob Hawke, ‘We do not come here to glorify war’, 25 April 1990 Bob Hawke recalls the Anzac legend, born at Gallipoli, on the 75th anniversary of the battle Paul Keating, ‘These battles were fought, not for the glory of war, but for humanity’, 25 April 1992 Paul Keating enlarges the Anzac legend at Kokoda, a place of hallowed ground for Australians Paul Keating, ‘He is one of us’, 11 November 1993 Paul Keating delivers his moving eulogy for the unknown Australian solider Simon Crean, ‘I don’t believe that you should be going’, 23 January 2003 On the deck of a battleship, Simon Crean tells the troops why he opposes the Iraq War
Australia and the World
H. V. ‘Doc’ Evatt, ‘Real peace is not merely the absence of war’, 30 August 1945 Doc Evatt reports to Parliament on the creation of the United Nations Ben Chifley, ‘For the preservation of peace’, 13 and 20 March 1947 Ben Chifley wins the case for Australia to join the international economy Gough Whitlam, ‘We give primacy to the United Nations’, 30 September 1974 Gough Whitlam outlines a bold new vision for Australia in the world Bob Hawke, ‘The spirit of men and women yearning to be free’, 16 October 1985 Bob Hawke tells Commonwealth leaders that they cannot ignore the plea for freedom in apartheid South Africa Bob Hawke, ‘Our economic futures are interlinked’, 31 January 1989 Bob Hawke proposes the creation of APEC to an audience in Seoul, Korea Paul Keating, ‘Sure of who we are and what we stand for’, 7 April 1992 Paul Keating outlines his vision for Australian engagement in the Asia-Pacific Paul Keating, ‘Those lessons we learn from Ireland’, 20 September 1993 Paul Keating, the grandson of Irish immigrants, addresses the Irish Parliament Simon Crean, ‘Australia still looks to America’, 23 October 2003 Simon Crean recalls the US-Australian alliance and tells George W. Bush Labor opposes the Iraq War
Victory, Defeat, Love and Loss
Billy Hughes, ‘It is not fair – to Judas’, 27-28 May 1909 Billy Hughes indicts and condemns Alfred Deakin for his Machiavellian treachery John Curtin, ‘One of the most eminent of the band of prominent Labor men’, 18 November 1941 John Curtin recalls the life and legacy of Labor’s first leader, Chris Watson Frank Forde, ‘The captain has been stricken in sight of the shore’, 5 July 1945 Frank Forde pays tribute to Australia’s greatest prime minister, John Curtin Nicholas McKenna, ‘To know Ben Chifley was to love him’, 19 June 1951 Nick McKenna eulogises Labor’s most loved leader, Ben Chifley Gough Whitlam, ‘Nothing will save the Governor-General’, 11 November 1975 Gough Whitlam addresses the crowd from the steps of Parliament House Paul Keating, ‘For the True Believers’, 13 March 1993 Paul Keating claims victory for the true believers Kim Beazley, ‘There are dark angels in our nation but there are also good angels’, 10 November 2001 Kim Beazley lifts Labor’s spirits after losing the 2001 ‘Tampa’ election Julia Gillard, ‘A day of courage, tragedy and sheer luck’, 9 February 2009 Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard expresses sympathy for lives lost in the Victorian bushfires
In the preface to this book, Troy Bramston writes: "this book comes at a time when Labor needs to more effectively define and communicate what it believes in and what it stands for, and is beset by many challenges." I agree with this sentiment, and further, I consider that this book highlights well the values and passion that underpin the Labor party. … Bramston presents a preamble to each speech, providing context and thoughtful analysis.
The book is both refreshing and timely, helping the reader experience the hope, inspiration and pride that Australian politics should deliver, in an era where political debate and commentary is dominated by both disrespect and cynicism. Read full review...
Linda Connelly, Law Letter, Law Society of Tasmania, Autumn 2015
… the speeches have a diverse subject matter. … There are speeches that call for change, action or steadfastness in response to most of the great issues that have faced the nation. The challenges posed by free trade or protectionism, world war, conscription, the White Australia policy, the equality of men and women, reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, native title, Australia's place in the world and her 'great power' alliances, the dissolution of the Communist Party of Australia, the Vietnam War and the 1975 Constitutional crisis, are all addressed in the course of this anthology. There are speeches relevant to Labor's great schism of the 1950s, the Split.
The book is most likely to be enjoyed by those with an interest in the techniques of persuasion, Australian history or the Australian Labor Party. Read full review...
MR Tyson, Bar News, Autumn 2014
The collection’s true value is to highlight those speeches where the ALP leader has made the right speech at the right time, expressing true sentiment without becoming too sentimental, appearing non-partisan while reaffirming the political legitimacy of the leader and by inference, the Australian Labor Party.
… Troy Bramston has done well to bring the art of Labor speechmaking to greater attention by the reading public. It will also be a useful reference book for those wishing to understand the evolving nature of the Australian Labor Party.
Lyndon Megarrity, ABR, Dec 2013-Jan 2014
***A copy of True Believers is on the desk of Barack Obama’s speechwriter in The White House, Cody Keenan ***
A decline in the quality of public speech has recently been understood as both cause and symptom of a crisis in Australian social democracy, even in our politics more generally. In the foreword to this valuable collection of Labor speeches edited by labour historian and Australian columnist Troy Bramston, Graham Freudenberg, the doyen of Australian political speechwriters, bemoans the decline of the public meeting, which, he feels, has undermined the quality of democratic politics itself.
Bramston is in reality a creator of party tradition as much as a collator and presenter of it.
This collection – which includes commentary that is informative (if occasionally tendentious in a New South Wales Labor Right kind of way) – will be a valuable teaching tool in schools and universities. Let us also hope that it might help revive the declining art of political speech-making.
Frank Bongiorno, ANU_ Labour History, November 2013
True Believers is like a family snapshot album that illuminates familial traits. It is genial, embracing and fiercely loyal, proud of who it is and what it is. It can be a little pompous at times, and sometimes a little teary but its great redeeming qualities are pragmatism and egalitarianism; equal outcomes are subject to constant debate, but the right to equal respect was never in doubt.
If there is an argument against publishing an anthology of this kind – a handsome hardback no less with a binding that should preserve it well into Labor’s third century – it is Google. Yet good books show up the internet’s shallow pretensions, hollow promises and limited horizons.
Many of these speeches would still only be available in part or in memory if Bramston had not hunted them down in some forgotten archive.What Bramston also offers, and the internet conspicuously doesn’t, is context. It actually matters what happened before and after, and it matters to whom the oration was directed. Bramston tells us in a concise, authoritative introduction to each speech.
Nick Cater, The Australian
These speeches plunge the reader into the heat of the political moment: they bring history alive through the voices of the men and women making it.
Pick of the week, The Sydney Morning Herald
[An] excellent anthology of speeches... Whatever your ideology, Bramston's collection is already a compulsory reference for anyone interested in Australian politics.
Chris Kenny, The Australian
Verdict: gripping. The most pertinent message of this book is not to do with Labor-Liberal rivalries, but with the decline in public speaking. To reread some of Labor's great orators (Chifley, Whitlam, even as recent a speaker as Kim Beazley) is to be reminded how poorly our new leaders articulate their visions and how petty political debate has become.
Baz Blakeney, The Herald-Sun
Kevin Rudd's Speech, given at the launch 16 March 2013
Bar News Autumn 2014
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Published 13 November 2013
Publisher The Federation Press
Australian RRP $39.95
International Price $35.00
Australian History / Studies
Government / Political Studies