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Title: Home-grown heroes: the use of narrative in Prime Minister Julia Gillard's 2011 'Motion of condolence: natural disasters'
Contributor(s): Williamson, Rosemary A  (author)
Publication Date: 2012
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Abstract: In late 2010 and early 2011, a spate of natural disasters wreaked havoc across Australia. Several states and communities within them suffered the catastrophic effects of fire, cyclone or flood. On 8 February 2011, Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered a motion of condolence to the House of Representatives, Canberra. The motion of condolence paid respect to those who had died as a result of the disasters and expressed sympathy to their families. It also acknowledged the extent of the devastation and the profound effects on families, communities and the nation; praised the extraordinary efforts made by Australians to respond to the needs of those affected by the disasters; and promised ongoing support from the government. The motion of condolence is a formal, rhetorical response to a death or deaths of national significance, and as such it fits within the epideictic genre of rhetoric, which is associated with praise and the expression of communal values. By its very nature, the motion of condolence provides a rare and formal opportunity for a national leader to articulate the fundamental principles upon which the nation is founded and the core characteristics of the citizenry. Because of that, the motion of condolence potentially represents a potent and unique response to place, in terms of the ways in which place has shaped, and will continue to shape, those who must cope with the challenges it presents. This paper analyses Gillard's motion of condolence from this perspective. The analysis pays particular attention to the role of narrative, including the ways in which narrative is used by Gillard to illustrate, repeatedly and consistently, the characteristics of a people whose actions, and as a consequence character, are determined by the extraordinary demands placed upon them by the place in which they live. In doing so, the analysis draws on narrative theory, notably the principles of narrative coherence and fidelity espoused by rhetorical theorist Walter Fisher. By identifying the features of narratives dominant in the motion of condolence, including narratives of heroism, the paper reaches conclusions about the nature of the 'Australian' who is central to the motion of condolence.
Publication Type: Conference Publication
Conference Name: The 17th Annual Australasian Association of Writing Programs Conference, Geelong, Australia, 25th - 27th November, 2012
Conference Details: The 17th Annual Australasian Association of Writing Programs Conference, Geelong, Australia, 25th - 27th November, 2012
Source of Publication: The Encounters: Place, Situation, Context Papers - The Refereed Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs, p. 1-10
Publisher: AAWP: Australasian Association of Writing Programs
Place of Publication: online
Field of Research (FOR): 200101 Communication Studies
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: E1 Refereed Scholarly Conference Publication
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