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The Redfern Park Speech Delivered by Paul Keating

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[pic 1]  Keating’s Redfern Speech

The Redfern Park speech, delivered by Paul Keating on 10 December 1992, remains an especially brilliant oratorical moment, especially given the context in which it was performed. It managed to capture in explicit terms some harsh truths about Australian history, and to use them as a basis for building trust in the government’s motives among Indigenous Australians (although admittedly much of that trust has been squandered in subsequent history).

Of particular importance was the way the Redfern Park speech was able to fashion its most compelling narratives with very little sentimentalizing or histrionic rhetoric. This is a reason why the speech has stayed so firmly in public memory, despite periods when the national mood was profoundly against it. The address was voted number three in a 2011 ABC Radio National poll of ‘the most unforgettable speech of all time’, ranked behind, first, Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ and, second, Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.

  1. Which three speeches would you rate as the greatest ever? Why?

Martin Luther King’s speech; Winston’s Churchill’s speech;

Using a wide range of oratory skills; inspiring; powerful; Addressing their attitude towards issues at that time

  1. Why did the speech take place in Redfern?

It’s where the council is. A war memorial was erected in 1919 to commemorate the 137 local men who lost their lives during World War I. Today, Redfern Park is one of the most beautiful parks in inner Sydney, with fine mature trees including enormous fig trees and Canary Island palms, expanses of grass and historical monuments. It retains much of its Victorian character and provides a green oasis in Redfern. In 2014 Redfern Park was internationally recognised as one of the top parks in the world after receiving a prestigious Green Flag Award for recreation and relaxation. It was a ghetto with mostly Aboriginal people living there. So

  1. What are the key points of Keating’s speech?

In the speech Keating challenges the established views of history held by many settler colonial Australians by outlining the outrages committed against Australia’s Indigenous peoples in the course of colonial takeover of their country. He called upon the Australian people to imagine if these outrages had happened to us – how would we feel?

He also praised the significant contribution that Indigenous people have made to the development of the nation and the cultural and social life of Australia. Finally, he underlines the Australian democratic passion for justice and he proposes a way forward for the decade.

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