Costello

The hows and whys of communication

Sometimes I start writing these blog entries with no actual idea what I’m going to write about… I find it makes for an interesting writing experience – that’s not necessarily duplicated for the reader. Today I thought I’d share a little bit about “the writing process” – or at least, my writing process. This was a decision I made just then. And by just then I mean half way through writing the sentence “Today I thought I’d share…” I decided I’d write about the writing process. I often wonder how other people frame their thoughts – I frame mine as written text – or at least, as text that I would then be able to reproduce in written form. Sometimes as I’m framing these thoughts I rewrite them – but once they’re down on paper I find it very hard to express them in any other manner – this makes me a terrible editor of my own work (except for spelling or grammatical errors – then it’s only pride that gets in the way). There are a number of “stream of consciousness” artists out there – Darren Hanlon, The Streets and others who simply record their thoughts about a particular issue – I would define myself as a stream of consciousness writer – what you see and read is what I think. And how I think. I would say I have a fairly fluent internal monologue which means I’m able to get my thoughts onto paper in written form fairly quickly. I’ve explored the topic of how I think before – this is the applied version – so it’s not completely unoriginal. I’ve been told by some people that they think in numbers and others that they think in images. I think thinking about how people think is essential for good communication – be it in the media, in politics, in teaching or preaching – any communication needs to be focused at the audience at hand – this means a publication for a mixed readership will need to use different language to a specialised niche magazine – this may be obvious, but I think a lot of communicators have missed the point. Based on recent speeches and media interviews I’d say the left is cottoning on to the necessity of clear communication much faster than the right – K-Rudd , Paul Keating, and Barack Obama in the US have all put in sterling communication performances – they all have the ability to articulate a point without resorting to jargon. Since taking on the leadership K-Rudd has demonstrated an improvement in this area – check out this extract from an interview in 2002…

“We are not even to the first stage of UN Security Council resolution setting a deadline for the readmission of inspectors let alone a subsequent resolution, which would then make a determination about whether free and unfettered access had been given.And, furthermore, that article 42 of the council, collective action by the council, would have to be exhausted as well.”

Or this one from 2005:

“In the case of Annette Hurley, the person who has come into the Parliament from South Australia has enormous experience in the South Australian Parliament before coming to Canberra. It’s not as if this person arrives as some sort of neophyte with no experience at all.”

Rudd has to work hard not to isolate the electorate with his prim and proper vocab and it looks like his image consultants are working overtime.

The Coalition have had a few stumbles in the campaign to date with John Howard a notably dismal performer – their star has always been Peter Costello – a few viewings of parliamentary question time will demonstrate his capabilities as an orator – this interview is a classic example of his ability to simplify the complex – and his ability to retort and riposte in the face of the most vitriolic barbs.

At the end of the day – as Benny so clearly points out – while how you say things is important – it’s what you say that really counts…

“I dont like the way Rudd talks. I watch him on umm whats that abc show on at night at 10:30ish…Lateline? But yeh I dont like the way he talks at all. I have grown to hate the word “folly”. To me, yeh he talks smart and proper and all (i meant to sound hicklike then), but to me he almost seems to do it without conviction. To me he still hasnt reached far enough with setting and talking about policy.”

Everybody’s changing

Sometimes there’s a real synergy between a number of different topics that fits nicely under the one blog heading. In a brief synopsis today’s blog will feature a mention of my trip to Brisbane, the Labor Leadership change, the Ashes, and whatever else occurs to me in the course of penning – or typing – this entry. Oh, and I recently became the proud owner of Liberia.

I’ll start with the known knowns – and move towards the known unknowns, ignoring completely the unknown unknowns.

I spent a few days in Brisbane last week. That was weird. It was a work trip and I was doing all sorts of official things demonstrating my competency and learning lots about tourism in the process. I’ll start the account from the beginning, which is, as we know courtesy of Rodgers and Hammerstein, a very good place to start.

I flew into Brisbane on Wednesday night, having spent most of the plane trip playing “eye spy” with the inquisitive six year old seated across the aisle I was ready to collect my bags and make a mad dash to the front of the taxi queue when suddenly there was a loud bang (well more a muffled whrrrr sound) and the lights went out. The baggage carousel shuddered to a stop and I was stranded waiting for my rather large, brown, antique suitcase to appear. It did. I got a cab. It drove me to my parents house. I disembarked (got out). I had dinner (cold steak). Wrote some of my sermon (which I will be preaching at church up here this Sunday night). And went to bed. I’m now tired of the blow by blow account – no doubt you are too.

Thursday was a day filled with meetings – well there were two – I met with our two PR companies who are largely responsible for sourcing the travel journalists I host in the region – and thus largely responsible for my free steak tally. It pays to be nice to the people who provide you with free steak so I duly told them what a wonderful job they were doing sourcing (and saucing) my free steaks. We established the parameters of our working relationship for the next year (with a steak quota now firmly entrenched in their contractual obligations) and moved on. Thursday was also my pseudo birthday – the day my family arbitrarily sets aside to endow me with gifts. So we celebrated in splendid fashion with noodles, waffles, and friends.

I also used my time in Brisbane to walk past the new State Library and its infamous balls of steel – which I’ll admit to finding mildly aesthetically appealing, while also admiring the skyscrapers which have been added to the CBD’s skyline since I left in March. I didn’t get to check out GoMA but I’ll save that for my next trip south. I did however, manage to visit JB Hifi, where I spent way too much of my hard earned wage purchasing a number of CDs I’ve been unable to locate in Townsville to date. Gotye, Bob Evans, and a few other JJJ favourites including Keane have now taken their rightful place in my CD collection. Keane segues nicely into my next topic – the lyrics from their song “Everybody’s changing” are quite apt when considering the Rudd takeover of the Australian Labor party.

So little time
Try to understand that I’m
Trying to make a move to stay in the game
I try to stay awake and remember my name
But everybody’s changing
And I don’t feel the same


Queensland’s second most famous Dr Death, Kevin Rudd, managed to wrest control of the party from the grasp of Kim Beazley, taking a caucus majority of 49-39 and “uniting” the party room behind his partnership with Julia Gillard. The more things change, the more they stay the same – Rudd’s Labor party will face the same challenges the Beazley party faced. He still needs to convince the public that he’s not too academic for the top job – with criticism of his extensive vocabulary already airing. I like Rudd – and he’s got a solid base of experience and expertise behind him. Solid enough to convince me that he’d be a suitable Prime Minister – I’m just not sure I prefer him to Howard or Costello. They all look like politicians to me.

It strikes me that 10 months out from an election is not an ideal time to be changing leadership – it also strikes me that with Labor polling ahead of the government this change was fairly unnecessary. Although I’m not sure anyone really wants Beazley to be prime minister – it’s more a case of public sentiment turning against Howard following the IR laws. I’m yet to be convinced the IR laws are a bad thing – but equally – I’m yet to be convinced they’re a good thing. There have been a number of issues that just haven’t registered with me as anything more than standard bureucratic incompetence – the AWB scandal, Children overboard – and in fact anything that has gone wrong in the last 10 years – seem to me to be the cost of the democratic process and not a compelling reason for governmental change. My biggest issues are with things like health, education and water – which all seem to be state government babies.

By the time you read this post Australia’s fate in the second Ashes test will be well and truly sealed, I’m predicting a win for the Aussies – and have been a believer all day.

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