Often described as the ‘Donald Bradman’ of speechwriters, Old Boy Graham Freudenberg (1951) wrote over a thousand speeches for several leaders of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). During a career that spanned almost 50 years, the most notable leaders for whom Graham wrote were Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke, which encompassed their prime ministerships. Graham’s influence has always extended beyond speechwriting and his powers of expression not only inspire but have played an essential part in the formation of policies that have redefined Australia. One of his finest speeches is Arthur Calwell’s response to the announcement by Robert Menzies that Australia would send combat troops to Vietnam in 1965. It also remains the one of which he is most proud.
For the past few years, Graham has also generously given of his time to visit Churchie to speak to Year 12 Modern History students. His insights and personal experiences from one of the most tumultuous periods of Australian politics, the constitutional crisis and dismissal of the Whitlam government by Governor-General John Kerr, are an invaluable contribution to their studies.
The Scribe is a compelling new documentary by Ruth Cullen (herself an accomplished writer, director and producer) that in part explores Graham’s professional life as a journalist, press secretary, speech writer and author. It also explores the craft of political speech writing and examines the changing language of the political landscape, from the introduction of TV until today.
Please click here to read more about The Scribe, which premiered at the Canberra Writers Festival on 26 August 2018 and will screen at the Antenna Documentary Festival in Sydney from 9-14 October 2018.