Home' The Chronicle : Canberra Chronicle 25-11-2014 Contents Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 10
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Prime ministers on message and off
Canberra author Julian Fitzgerald with his new book On Message: The Political Communications of Australian
Prime Ministers 1901-2014.
Photo: Matt Bedford
Of Australia s 28 prime ministers who
do you rate as the best political
communicator? Menzies, Whitlam,
They all had memorable one-liners.
But according to Canberra
journalist/author Julian Fitzgerald,
who has just published On Message:
The Political Communications of
Australian Prime Ministers
1901-2014, it s none of the above,
although he considers Sir Robert
Menzies comes close.
He claims war-horse Prime Minister
John Curtin was Australia s greatest
political communicator by a nose.
"There are two very close
contestants, Fitzgerald said.
"Obviously John Curtin during World
War II, and for success and longevity,
Robert Menzies. If you look between
the two of them they both had different
strengths and qualities, but I suppose if
you had to be pushed you d certainly
say, in the country s greatest need,
The book explains how the
country s 28 prime ministers have
communicated to the nation. It
examines the teams they built around
them, the way they crafted their
messages and how the people
It is a timely literary contribution at
a time when political mis-
communication is a hot topic.
Fitzgerald, a federal press gallery
member, blames bad communication
for bringing down the past few prime
"[John] Howard should not have
lost in 2007 given there was an
economic boom going on, he said. "It
is unheard of for a conservative
government to lose at that point in the
electoral cycle. He said while Julia
Gillard was remarkably effectively in
holding her party together, her ability
to communicate to the public was
poor, while Kevin Rudd s
micromanagement was always going
to fail. Meanwhile he believes Prime
Minister Tony Abbott has been unable
to cut through even basic political
arguments, despite employing more
than 3000 spin doctors and 50 press
secretaries across government.
It is incumbent upon prime
ministers to explain and tell the public
the truth of their decision-making and
not to dumb down the circumstances
around that, Fitzgerald said.
Repetition is a very painful example
of why politicians are failing to
connect with people.
"In Western democracies politicians
are all finding this very difficult,
whereas there is a very simple answer
-- tell the public the truth.
"The legitimacy of the parliament
has been eroded by these countless,
The book's launch takes place at
Paperchain Bookstore in Manuka at
6pm on Wednesday.
invited to join
5km basin walk
To celebrate Social Inclusion Week
2014, Technical Aid to the Disabled
ACT is hosting Walk 4 Ability on
Saturday, in an effort to connect all
members of the community in an
inclusive and safe environment.
Walk 4 Ability, held at Kings Park,
will include a 5-kilometre walk or
ride around the central basin of Lake
Burley Griffin to promote disability
Special guests Canberra Chargers
Wheelchair basketball team will be
conducting a wheelchair challenge to
highlight the issue of accessibility
while encouraging greater social
inclusion through sports.
Created and led by Dr Jonathon
Welch, the week aims to build a
stronger feeling of belonging,
involvement and inclusion for all
members of society.
HAWKER PRIMARY IS
ACT BAKING CHAMPION
Hawker Primary School has taken
out first prize in the ACT in a nation-
wide muffin baking competition.
More than 3900 schools
nationwide participated in the 2014
Muffin Break Great Bake Sale
Facebook fund-raising competition.
As the state winner, Hawker
Primary School has won $1000 and
1000 muffins to sell at their own
great bake sale.
The annual competition has been
going for three years and 2014 was
the biggest yet, a spokesman said.
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