Groups of people, especially those in Parliament, come with a wide range of life experiences. Some come with limited experiences in life and the art of speech making, so feel intimidated by either those opposite or the general atmosphere of confrontation.
I must confess to feeling very limited when I first stood to face those opposite, terrified of making a mistake or being tricked into looking a fool in front of my comrades, but we were a small group and those who could make a contribution had to do their bit. Mind you, there were some who never made an offering after their first speech which could be a simple set piece about family and their electorate. I was a shadow minister, so felt a responsibility to overcome any fear and push on whenever called on, which was often.
Where did this propensity to hold my head high and say what I believed in come from? I’m not sure, but I had many a scrap in the school yard at Primary School if I thought my younger brothers were being given a rough deal and had been known to take on teachers who, in those days, were very hard on students who were different.
My first speech to an audience was at secondary school in Melbourne when called on to give a report on an exchange with a country school. However, the speech I remember most was at Teachers’ College. Again in front of an assembled throng, I made a speech to encourage female students to join in a variety of activities on Wednesday afternoons at our hostel for country students. It was really a plan hatched to get us country students out of ‘clubs’ time at the College back to our hostel in another suburb of Melbourne for cocoa and raisin bread. Unfortunately, even though it gained a good number of laughs, my speech was so successful we had a team of young first years to deal with for the rest of the year and never got back to that cocoa and toast.
I last used my limited skill in this speech making caper in our battle to get a new Library for Benalla when speaking to Council on the subject or when keeping the troops motivated to do the work needed to bring this needed new asset to our town. I doubt if it will be needed in future, unless of course I take on the powers to be at the Nursing Home!