Robert Menzies set a high bar. His weekly radio broadcasts delivered during the hardest days of World War II, including the defining ‘Forgotten People’ speech of May 1942, became a precise manifesto for the
Liberal Party established two years later.
The Menzies Research Centre republished transcripts of those broadcasts in 2017. This year we are posting nine of them as podcasts thanks to technology that Menzies could scarcely have imagined. We also published Menzies: The Forgotten Speeches, an anthology spanning more than 40 years in public life of speeches rescued from obscurity in the archives.
For a politician who aspires to lead, a public speech is no mere ornament.
It is an opportunity to shape and share a vision and provide a solid foundation for governance. They are also a vehicle for persuasion, a skill mastered by John Howard and captured in Howard: The Art of Persuasion published last year.
This year we turn our attention to Tony Abbott’s brief but productive period as Prime Minister. The influences of Menzies and Howard are clear, but so too is Abbott’s literary skill, honed as a journalist. Like Menzies and Howard, Abbott achieved the remarkable task of leading his party out of opposition. These speeches reveal he also had a strong plan for government, accomplishing the tasks he had laid before the electorate while developing further plans for reform of the federation, taxation, welfare, indigenous affairs, health funding and more.
This volume, like the others in the series, is, if you like, a self-portrait. Abbott: As Delivered is an intimate picture of a politician who thought deeply about the purpose of government and its role in creating a more prosperous and just society not with its own energy but by releasing the potential of its people. We present it as a template for others who aspire to serve.
Executive Director, Menzies Research Centre