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Sir William Deane Speech Essay

The former governor general Sir William Deane is urging Australians to reflect on their family's migrant journeys to Australia to better understand the plight of asylum seekers.

In Canberra on Tuesday, Deane launched a collection of essays by the not-for-profit thinktank Australia21 that calls for an overhaul of mandatory and offshore immigration detention of asylum seekers and a more compassionate public debate.

He reflected on his great-grandfather's family voyage to Australia in 1851 on a wooden sailing ship from Europe.

"They sought asylum on this side of the world from the devastation of the great famine," he said.

"We Australians should have understanding and compassion to the actions of those who subject themselves and their families to serious risk of disaster at sea to escape from violence or terror or unbearable hardship."

Deane said most Australians would see asylum seekers of the 19th century as people bravely seeking better lives for themselves and families.

He said Australia must acknowledge that other countries were facing much larger refugees numbers, particularly Lebanon, which was accommodating 800,000 people escaping Syria's civil war.

He quoted parts of a report by the United Nations’ refugee arm into the mistreatment of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island.

"One cannot but fear that at least some of the findings, particularly those relating to children in detention ... are justified," he said.

"If they are, the United Nations’ reports diminish our country's hard-won and long-justified international reputation as an upholder of human rights and dignity."

Essay contributor and former refugee Widyan Al Ubudy told reporters the Australian public should see asylum seekers not as "queue jumpers" but as human beings.

"These so-called illegals have faces, families, hopes and aspirations just like you and I," she said.

Sir William Deane

This is another one of the new speeches in the 2009 syllabus for Module B: Critical Study of Texts – Speeches. The speech “It is Still Winter at Home” by Sir William Deane.

It’s the shortest speech in the lot, but I find this actually gives you less to talk and analyse about. However, it works as a good comparison to Paul Keating’s speech “Funeral Service of the Unknown Australian Soldier”.

Both speeches turn individual tragedies into messages about national unity.


  • Sir William Deane was  the Governor General of Australia from 1996 for 6 years.
  • For law students, you will recognise him as Justice Deane of the High Court! He was in the majority of the Mabo case and is even mentioned in Noel Pearson’s speech.
  • Also delivered speeches at other tragedies (Threadbo, Port Arthur) as well as eulogies (Sir Donald Bradman).
  • Was well loved and regarded during his term – avoided political controversies.


  • Hundreds of people including mourning family and friends of the deceased.
  • Both Australians and Swiss audience.


  • Delivered on 5 August 1999
  • On 31 July 1999, a flash flood burst through the Saxeten River near the Swiss Alpine resort of Interlaken. It killed 21 people, including 14 Australians.
  • A memorial service as held on 5 August 1999 at Interlaken in Switzerland.

Techniques by Paragraph

I won’t do your analysis for you, but here is a general guideline:

  1. Identify where the listed techniques are in the speech.
  2. Explain their effect/purpose.

Para 1:

  • Numbering
  • Emotive language
  • Religious allusions

Para 2:

  • Statistics
  • Grandiose language

Para 3:

Para 4:

Para 5:

Para 6:

  • Triple utterance
  • Parallel syntax
  • Inclusive language
  • Emotive language
  • Numbers
  • Famous quotation

Para 7:

  • Anecdote
  • Numbers
  • Patriotic image

Para 8:

Para 9:

  • Anecdote
  • Symbolism
  • Metaphor
  • Imagery

Para 10:


  • Ecumenical – universal


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