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Vale Graham Freudenberg: speechwriter to Whitlam, Hawke and more

Tony Stephens writes in the Sydney Morning Herald (26.7.19) after the death of former Prime Ministerial speechwriter and Brisbane-born ALP life member, Graham Freudenberg.

‘As a child, Graham Freudenberg day-dreamed of being a politician, perhaps a political leader. When his parents were out, he would recite the speeches of Edmund Burke, the 18th century Irish statesman, author, orator, political philosopher and member of the House of Commons.

‘He gave up such notions on realising how hard good politicians worked and accepting that he lacked the necessary energy and nature. Instead, he became a speechwriter for Labor Party leaders. Writing over 50 years for Arthur Calwell, Gough Whitlam, Neville Wran, Bob Hawke, Barrie Unsworth and Bob Carr, he led the craft of speechwriting and contributed more to his party than did most MPs.

‘Freudenberg thought of himself as “not just a speechwriter” but midwife at the birth of some great speeches, a political advisor, “the bloke who was there” when history was made.

‘… Freudenberg thought the great political speech was not dead in the 21st century, just struggling to be heard above the 20-second grab. Parliament could still be the greatest forum; any decline in debate was because parliament was not exploited properly. Yet he defended today’s politicians as “better educated and more professional”.’

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