The Politics    Thursday, April 9, 2015

Non-politicians give the best speeches

By Sean Kelly

Save yourself from this slow news day by watching a speech given yesterday

It’s a slow political news day in Australia, and I’m not going to waste your time by pretending otherwise. There’s a bumper overseas (and overseas-related) links edition below.

I do want to mention one of the most fascinating political speeches you’ll hear, delivered yesterday by Cate McGregor, the world’s most senior transgender military officer, speaking at the National Press Club about how she now crosses the road when she sees intoxicated young men coming towards her – not because she’s transgender but because she is 22 kilograms lighter than she used to be and more easily physically intimidated.

I can’t think of a more concise evocation of the different ways that men and women experience the world.

Most of the speech was about the anxieties and joys of McGregor’s experience of gender dysphoria. The moment when she describes the response of Indian cricketing legend Rahul Dravid to news of her decision to change genders is pretty amazing to watch. (McGregor is also a cricket writer.)

She also expressed frustration that Tony Abbott wasn’t given the credit he deserved for the strong support he offered throughout her gender transition. She’s right, of course. We tend to view our politicians as simplistic cartoon characters and struggle with facts that don’t match the images we have in our heads.

You can watch the whole address here for the next fortnight.


If you stole Dallas Buyers Club or any other movie online you deserve to be punished, says Anita Heiss. This op-ed will make many of us uncomfortable, but Heiss’s point is hard to argue with.

Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning of WikiLeaks notoriety, has given her first interview from behind bars to Cosmo.

Google, Apple and Microsoft get grilled by senators.

This is a horrific type of discrimination I knew nothing about. Tanzanian elections loom this year. It’s expected that politicians will turn to witchcraft to bolster their chances. To practise that witchcraft, they are likely to want the body parts of albinos. The UN has called for violence and discrimination against albinos to end after the abduction, killing and mutilation of an albino child last weekend.

The Scottish leaders debate in the run up to the general election.

Moves to turn the far-right xenophobic French party Front National into a mass right-wing movement have seen its founder Jean-Marie Le Pen almost pushed out of the party by his daughter and party president Marine Le Pen.

Sex education in Europe turns from explaining how to avoid getting pregnant to explaining how to actually get pregnant – one response to falling birthrates.

Here's a British site ridiculing the Australian government’s suggestion that Coca-Cola could help combat climate change by capturing carbon dioxide, putting it in soft drinks . . . then releasing it again. 

And Robert Manne rubbishes Jonathan Franzen.

Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly is a columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and was an adviser to Labor prime ministers Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd.

@mrseankelly

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