‘” Awkward humility”: The speeches of the Hon Brendan Nelson AO: Part I: Thrice more with feeling‘, Honest History, 11 October 2016
The article analyses ten speeches from 2007 to 2016 regarding their structure, recurring themes and sets of words, where the content comes from, the individual words in the speeches, and the words not in the speeches. Part I looks at what Dr Nelson has said and how he has said it; Part II offers some further analysis.
Just as anyone speaking at a wedding or funeral only has to be half-competent to get a reaction from his or her audience, an Australian or New Zealand spruiker in an Anzac context has a fairly cushy gig: the sentimental “hot buttons” of a good proportion of the audience are primed and ready. These two articles look at some of the speeches of one Australian spruiker, the Honourable Dr Brendan Nelson AO, currently Director of the Australian War Memorial. Dr Nelson is in some respects a very good spruiker – he is certainly more than half-competent – but any collection of his remarks raises a number of issues and deserves close analysis.
Note: Honest History gave Dr Nelson the opportunity to provide input to this article. By an email of 18 September 2016 to the Communications and Marketing (C & M) area of the War Memorial we asked:
a. Who wrote the speeches? [the ten speeches listed in the article]
b. What is the reason behind the repetition from speech to speech of themes, paragraphs and anecdotes?
c. How does the Director perceive his role when speaking as Director of the AWM?
We said we would print the answers received without amendment, unless any part of them was specified as ‘background’, in which case we would not use that part. C & M responded on 4 October 2016: ‘The Memorial is declining to comment on this matter’.