Joel Deane reviews 'Speechless: A Year in My Father’s Business' by James Button

Speechless:

by James Button

Melbourne University Press, $32.99 pb, 255 pp, 9780522858587

In 2008 I was asked to write speeches for then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. It was a tempting offer. The trouble was that I would be based in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), not the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), and would work as a public servant, not a political staffer. Having worked as both a public servant and a political staffer, I believed the best way to do the job – which is all about intimacy of belief and thought – was to be embedded in the leader’s office. I also knew that the PMO already had an incumbent speechwriter, Tim Dixon. I said no.

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Joel Deane

Joel Deane

Joel Deane is a speechwriter, novelist, and poet. He has worked in Australia and the United States as a journalist and political staffer – covering the 2000 Democratic National Convention, serving as principal speechwriter to Labor Premiers Steve Bracks and John Brumby, and lecturing widely on politics and public language. In 2009, he was a finalist for the Melbourne Prize for Literature Best Writing Award. His new non-fiction book, Catch and Kill: The Politics of Power, will be published by the University of Queensland Press in July 2015.

Published in November 2012 no. 346