Stephens, David: Is Julia Gillard’s speech to the US Congress the most sycophantic speech by an Australian PM?

Stephens, David

Is this the most sycophantic speech by an Australian prime minister? Julia Gillard’s address to the United States Congress, March 2011’, Honest History, 19 July 2016

This article analyses a recent claim by former Australian diplomat, Richard Butler, that Prime Minister Gillard’s 2011 speech in Washington ‘reached unprecedented heights of sycophancy’. (The context of Butler’s remark was the reaction to the Chilcot report on the Iraq invasion of 2003.) Was Butler correct?

The article looks at some examples of Anzackery from Prime Ministers Hawke and Rudd, then moves on to early examples of Washington-directed sycophancy from Prime Ministers Holt and Gorton, analyses Prime Minister Gillard’s speech and compares it with direct precedents from Prime Ministers Menzies, Hawke and Howard. The article then looks at the reasons behind sycophancy between allies and what it achieves and suggests sycophancy might be inevitable in an asymmetric alliance.

The article is a little more irreverent than some of our offerings but we have included more illustrations. The article also includes links to videos of the Hawke, Howard and Gillard speeches.

There is a shorter version of this article on the Pearls and Irritations blog.

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