A little over two centuries ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in suffering, but in birth, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. In so doing we took our rightful place in the community of nations.

Now we are engaged in an even greater challenge, testing whether the community of nations, even if so dedicated, can long endure. We are stood, inadequate, on the brink of a great chasm. We, alone, have to choose: Is this to be our final bequest? Or, can humanity transcend her feebleness, so that the world might continue to live and prosper. Our past and our present have made it altogether inevitable that this should be so.

But, in a larger sense, we did not dedicate — we did not consecrate — we did not hallow — the ground, the seas and the air. We, the people, have denigrated them, far beyond their power to endure. The world will note, will long remember what we did here, and we wonder if she can forgive. It is for us, the living, to be here dedicated to the great task standing before us — that from this point hence, we acknowledge that cause for which we must now give our full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that our children shall not suffer on our account — that this nation and all others, shall have a new birth in wisdom — and that we who live today, shall thoughtfully, honourably and carefully discharge our role as stewards of this single, finite, perfect world.

Write a speech for Australia 2007 — something like the Gettysburg address, that defines the Australian moment and projects our nation into a new unified destiny — in 272 words. If 272 words was good enough for Abraham Lincoln … Send your small gem of timeless rhetoric to [email protected]. The eventual winner (we don’t want to set a deadline just yet) will be performed by former NSW premier and orator supreme Bob Carr on Radio National’s Late Night Live.

Peter Fray

Help us keep up the fight

Get Crikey for just $1 a week and support our journalists’ important work of uncovering the hypocrisies that infest our corridors of power.

If you haven’t joined us yet, subscribe today and get your first 12 weeks for $12.

Cancel anytime.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey