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Gough Whitlam's vision of the Australian Res Publica: Creating civil possibility in rhetoric and action

 

Prof anna YEATMAN | Whitlam Legacy vol 6

“It’s never been a more exciting time to be Australian”
“Jobs and growth”
“Putting people first”
“Stop the boats”

Bombarded with repetitious and empty slogans it’s no wonder that many of us simply switch off, or turn to other political candidates whose ability to ‘cut through’ is divorced from a cohesive and productive policy platform.

This isn’t just an Australian phenomenon, with Brexit and the rise of Trump two examples of ineffective or overblown political communications which have failed to create a positive sense of commonality, something that used to be central to our political sphere.

Our political leaders and the established political parties behind them are intelligent and well-resourced, so how did we come to be in this destructive echo-chamber, and what is the alternative?

The latest essay in the Whitlam Institute’s Legacy series, Gough Whitlam’s vision of the Australian Res Publica: Creating civil possibility in rhetoric and action by Whitlam Professorial Research Fellow Professor Anna Yeatman makes us think about what political ‘leadership’ means in the face of our contemporary democratic challenges, and specifically what role political language plays.

Professor Yeatman examines Whitlam’s legendary use of language to argue that political rhetoric is of central importance for creating civil possibility. Talking about a common sense of purpose, talking about institutions such as the parliament, the political party, the public sector and the federal system of government all contributes to making them.

Read the paper:
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What does political 'leadership' mean in the face of our contemporary democratic challenges? How is the Whitlam vision relevant today? Professor Anna Yeatman, Whitlam Institute Professorial Research Fellow explores the central importance of political rhetoric for creating civil possibility. Professor Yeatman's essay 'Gough Whitlam's vision of the Australian Res Publica: Creating civil possibility in rhetoric and action' explores this in depth.

Listen: Prof Anna Yeatman discusses her paper with Phillip Adams on Radio National's Late Night Live