Tuesday, 19 February 2013


James Button is a journalist, and the late Senator John Button's son.  The sub-title to his book Speechless is "A Year in my Father's Business".

The book covers a good deal of ground.  For a few months Button was one of Kevin Rudd's speechwriters (although based in the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet), but after that he moved on to a position  in the Strategy and Delivery Division.

He offers some interesting insights into Rudd, although nothing that would come as a great surprise to those who have followed Australian politics in recent times (surely,  most of us?).  The title of one chapter - "Kevin, Use my Stuff!" - provides a clue to his feelings during this time.

His description of his time in SDD contains many insights and observations about the bureaucracy's relationships with politicians, the public and indeed with each other.   The book then turns to the impact of politics on those involved in it, and includes a chapter or so primarily concerned with the author's relationship with his father, and in turn Senator Button's relationship with his own father, as well as the way in which the author and Senator Button handled the death at an early age of the author's brother Dave, from a drug overdose.

Towards the end, there are a number of frank observations about the current state of the media in Australia today as well as quite a lot of comment on politics in general and the state of affairs within the ALP.

While the author isn't a long-serving "insider", his position as an informed observer pretty close to a lot of the recent political "action" (including the removal of Rudd and Brumby's loss in the Victorian election in 2010) means that this book is interesting reading.

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