Former leader accuses speechwriter of violating anonymity contract
August 26, 2010
Long story short: A 1992 speech by former Australian prime minister Paul Keating is being included in Australia’s National Archives’ “Sound of Australia” list.
But Don Watson, who wrote the Redfern Park speech—about reconciliation with Australia’s indigenous people—sez the speech itself wasn’t a work of genius. “This was something I had written basically overnight,” he said.
What made the speech matter was Keating’s willingess to give the speech. “There was only one politician who had the courage and conviction to deliver it and that was Paul.”
With the speech’s authorship long established, that seems to me to be just about the right thing for the speechwriter to say.
But Keating was not amused, finding “condescension” in Watson’s remarks and claiming that “The sentiments of the speech, that is, the core of its authority and authorship, were mine.”
And besides, Keating added, Watson shouldn’t be going around blabbing. Doing so violates what he called “the contract of participating in the endeavor and the power in return for anonymity.”
Arguing about who wrote what line in a classic speech, two decades on?