Speaking of talented up and coming Australian political scientists, Melbourne University’s Sally Young (with assistance from researchers Stephanie Younane and Mary Helen McIlroy) has just launched “Soapbox“, an archive of election material running back to federation. Browsing through the launch speeches, I’m struck by the fact that in virtually every election, even back to the 1940s, the Coalition launch speeches focus on values, while the ALP speeches are awash with facts and gritty policies.

They’re looking for more material to complete the archive, so if you have copies of the ALP’s 1951 policy launch speech, I’m sure Sally would be delighted to hear from you.

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4 Responses to Soapbox

  1. Thanks for the reference Andrew.

    I’m sure you’re right in your claim, but I took one core sample – 1937. Looks like a counterexample to your thesis.

    This is how John Curtin started.

    The real decision which the people of Australia are called upon to make at this election is one of values. The Labor Party declares that the immediate task of statesmanship is to overcome the forces which are undermining the moral, social and economic foundations of civilisation.

    Joe Lyons was much more mundane. He sounds like a bit of a ‘you’ve never had it so good’ kind of guy.

    When I stood before you in 1934, I said, ‘We have still a steep climb ahead of us before we reach the top of the hill. Tonight I stand before you and tell you that we have reached the top of the hill, If the test of good government is the condition of the people as a whole, then Australia has been well governed indeed.

    There follows a bunch of grubby, gritty facts and factoids.

  2. To win Coalition needed voters of workers (especially Protestants) hence the values focus. Judith Brett is partially right.

  3. Andrew Leigh says:

    Nicholas, that is interesting. I confess the ones I skimmed were all post-WWII.

    Geoff, your thesis certainly makes sense. Indeed, ever since we can measure, churchgoers have favoured the Coalition by a goodly (godly?) margin.

  4. Mike Pepperday says:

    If Andrew is right, perhaps it concerns their respective pessimisms.

    The free market and conservative right is worried about bad human nature and wants to give us a pep talk. The left is concerned about an uncooperative material environment so boasts of the achievements in coping with it.

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