‘Atheist’ Oz PM Gillard urged to use more religious terms in condolence speeches

Saturday, November 27, 2010

CANBERRA - Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been advised by professional speechwriters to make use of more ‘religious languages’ at times of national grief, despite her professed atheism.

While expressing her, and the nation’s heartfelt sympathies for the families of the victims of the Greymouth mine disaster earlier this week, the Prime Minister reportedly avoided the use of religious language in her speech.

According to news.com.au, in a recorded statement, Gillard simply expressed her “condolences . . . best wishes, sympathy and support”.

Earlier during the recent federal election campaign when the Minister for Foreign Affairs Kevin Rudd was hospitalised for a surgery, Gillard said: “our prayers are with Kevin.”

Dr Michael Fullilove, a former adviser to Paul Keating and editor of a selection of Australian political speeches, praised Gillard’s for her direct and honest remarks, but added that there was no restriction on her to avoid prayers or references to God in such circumstances.

Dr Fullilove said: “The problem comes because Gillard is both an individual and a representative of the nation,” adding that modern Australian leaders, especially from the Labor side, tended to refer to God “lightly” or “obliquely”.

Meanwhile Dennis Glover, a former speechwriter for Mark Latham, said it would take time for Gillard to “find her rhetorical range”.

“A lot of people are atheists in modern Australia and people would expect her to be truthful rather than hypocritical,” he added. (ANI)

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