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PAUL KEATING Redfern Speech
Transcript of PAUL KEATING Redfern Speech
"It was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers. We failed to ask - how would I feel if this were done to me?"
- With these words, Paul Keating was the first Australian politician to directly and publicly acknowledge the devastating colonial European impact upon Aboriginal communities, culture and lives in general.
The Australian economy fell into recession during this general time period and Australian home ties to Britain were being questioned and were (to some) thought to be "outdated".
The speech was mainly attended by an Indigenous Australian audience due to the subject matter and location. The crowd appears to be hostile towards Keating and some aggressive shouting can be heard coming from the audience at some points however the crowd calms down after Keatings motives become obvious.
The speech was delivered on the 10th of December, 1992, marking the launch of the 'International Year of the Worlds Indigenous People'
In 1987 the Royal Commision into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was set up to investigate allegations that a high number of aboriginal peoples had been murdered by the direct or indirect acts of police in prison, however it was later concluded that the deaths were not due to police violence.
At this time, other Aboriginal rights were bought to attention including the Mabo act in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders are recognized as the original owners of Australian land and that Australia was legally occupied at the time of European colonization.
Eddie Mabo, lead campaigner of the Mabo act
The media gave the speech a lot of attention, displaying it and its linkage to the start of the 'Year of the Worlds Indigenous People' on front pages of newspapers. It also featured in TV News articles, footage of which can be found on websites like YouTube still today.
By Callum & Lachlan
In 2007, ABC Radio National listeners voted the speech as the third most unforgettable speech behind Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" .
Dr Tom Calma and Melinda Cilento (co-chairs of Reconciliation Australia) in a statement once said Paul Keating's Redfern speech was "one of the most significant speeches ever delivered by an Australian political leader".
The speech is listed in ABC's "80 days that changed our lives"
The 20th Anniversary celebration of the speech sparked a controversy between Keating and the writer of the speech, Don Watson as to who should take the most credit for the success of the speech. Watson argued the undeniable fact that it was his hand and mind that wrote the words of the speech however without Keatings sincere and captivating delivery the speech would not be remembered and cherished for its eloquent and truthful success.
By the 1990s, Australian society was a diverse mix of cultures from all over the world. At the time it was estimated over 5 million people living in Australia were born overseas.
During the 1990s, environmental issues were highly prevalent. Decades of industrialization had led to high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and many scientists feared that global warming would soon cause severe climate change and rising sea levels.
As the 1990s went on, technology like the internet progressed and delivered the world to Australia's fingertips and vice-versa, destroying the geographical divide that had isolated the country since its settlement.
The speech starts off with a formal welcoming of several different important political bodies attending the speech
Keating then begins warmly but quickly introduces a pass and fail paradigm on Australia's treatment of Indigenous people. Using high modality, he brings to attention all the inhumane wrongs committed against Aboriginal people by white colonists.
The speech is often written in quick, punchy sentences that offer one idea at a time, contain plenty of rhetoric material and add suspense and effect. (also gives the impression that Keating is choosing his words carefully)
Paul uses lots of expressive technique in his delivery including precisely rehearsed pauses and intonations.
To acknowledge the past treatmeant of Aborigonal Australians by the white colonials through inequality, hate and a lacking understanding of the signifigance and value of the Aborigonal culture.
To lauch Australias celebration of IYWYP(International Year of the Worlds Indigenous People)
To inform the audience (Australians) and the world about the mistreatment of Aborigonal people and horrors they have had to go through as a result of this mistreatment.
To lauch a movement of recognition, respect and tolerance towards the Aborigonal people. Acknowledgement is the first step of the healing process.
Mistreatment and oppression of the Aboriginal Australians by the white Australians
Significance of place (Redfern)
The restriction of the Aboriginals, as we turn a blind eye, hoping for the problem to stay contained away from our responsibility -> THIS IS NOT THE CASE -> this degradation and demoralization effects everyone, everywhere in Australia
Challenging our identity; "they have shaped our identity","they are there in the Australian legend
Strength in simplicity; clear, simple, no-bullshit language
1. step forward
2. "give meaning to justice and equality"
3. push against the momentum of negativity -we have to create something concrete - "if we... if we... if we..."
4. practical building blocks of change
5. gives hope - "there is everything to gain" "If we can imagine injustice we can imagine the opposite."
6. calls Australians together
7. imagination and good will-the qualities we need to move forward
Paving the way for a formal apology, which finally happened in February 2008, delivered by PM Kevin Rudd.
Colloquialisms used ("the land of the fair go and the better chance" )
Inclusive language; "they are a part of us" "We cannot give up on Aboriginal Australians without giving up many of our most deeply held values"
Asks us how well we as Australians know our history; repetition "how well"
High modality language -> i.e. injustice, dispossessed
Almost implied threat " We simply cannot sweep injustice aside. Even if our own consciences allowed us to, I am sure, that in due course, the world and the people of this region would not." - we need to clean up our act
Uses all pathos, logos, ethos to support his argument
○ logos -"bad history" "Isn't it reasonable to say..."
○ pathos-"morally indefensible"
○ ethos-"I think what we need to do is open our hearts a bit. All of us" -> "it might help if us non-Aboriginal Australians imagined..."
Negative language turned to a positive in the final lines
"We failed to ask - How would i feel if this were done to me?".
Keating then uses rhetoric to humanize what he has already said, a sense of guilt and empathy being applied to the audience.
Keating knows, however, that guilt and blame are not the right ways to go about addressing these issues and so he shifts the focus to the Aboriginal contributions to building a nation, society and culture for Australia.
This is a good start to make, recognising the contributions of these people makes the uneducated audience realise the good that Aboriginals have carried out for Australia despite the suffering bestowed upon them. This means we can empathise with the Aboriginal people and understand ways in which to better their treatment.