Last year the Prime Minister electrified the world with her misogyny speech. But this was a rare exception, and few modern political speeches capture the imagination in this way. Has our political discourse been reduced to slogans? And what does this mean for our democracy? Executive Director of the Lowy Institute Michael Fullilove discusses this and more with author and ex-speechwriter for Kevin Rudd, James Button, Federal Member for Wentworth Malcolm Turnbull, political journalist and social commentator Annabel Crabb and Executive Director of the Plain English Foundation Neil James.
Supported by the Plain English Foundation.
James Button (Australian)
James Button worked in 2009 as a speechwriter to the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. He was previously Europe Correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. He is a former deputy editor and opinion editor of The Age, and has won two Walkley Awards for feature writing. His book Speechless was published in late 2012.
Malcolm Turnbull is a member of the House of Representatives and is currently Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband. He was elected as the Member for Wentworth in 2004 and was Leader of the Opposition in 2008 and 2009. Malcolm graduated from Sydney University with degrees in Arts and Law and later won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford. Malcolm worked as a journalist both in Australia and the UK before he began legal practice in 1980. He later had responsibility for the establishment and success of many Australian businesses. He is married to Lucy and they have two adult children.
Annabel Crabb (Australian)
Annabel Crabb writes, tweets and makes TV and radio for the ABC. She hosts the political cooking show Kitchen Cabinet and has written several books, including Rise Of The Ruddbot and the Walkley-winning Quarterly Essay Stop At Nothing: The Life and Adventures of Malcolm Turnbull. She is a syndicated columnist for The Sun Herald, The Sunday Age and The Sunday Times. She is too fond of semi-colons, but at least she knows enough to admit it.
Neil James (Australian)
Dr Neil James is an expert in the rhetoric of writing. He has published more than 75 essays and articles in publications as diverse and the The Telegraph and the TLS. His current book Modern Manglish skewers the worst excesses of buzzwords and suit speak. Neil’s Writing at Work has become a standard on the reform of contemporary rhetoric. As @drplainenglish at the Plain English Foundation, he helps workplace writers to communicate with clarity. plainenglishfoundation.com
Michael Fullilove is the executive director of the Lowy Institute in Sydney, and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. A Rhodes scholar and a former prime ministerial adviser, he writes widely on global issues for publications such as The New York Times, Financial Times, The Daily Beast and Foreign Affairs.