To hear former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie’s speech to the Columbia Rotary Club last Monday — to which I referred in my Sunday column — go to this page, then scroll down to the calendar. Under April 7, you’ll see "Peter Beattie, former Premier of Queensland, Australia."
Under those words, you’ll see three icons. Click on the middle one — the one that features the image of a speaker — to call up an audio recording of the meeting. Let the full audio download, then skip over the preliminaries (including my presentation of "Health and Happiness") and restart the playback roughly in the middle (or to be precise, 38 minutes, 36 seconds in). That’s where Mr. Beattie starts speaking.
This may sound stupid, but one of the things that I enjoyed about talking with Mr. Beattie was listening to his accent. To my unschooled, untraveled ear, it made him sound like a guy who, instead of talking about seizing opportunities to move into a new economy, ought to be out hunting crocodiles, either for educational purposes or for profit. I mean that in a good way.
But I didn’t put it that way in my column Sunday because over the years I’ve picked up on the fact that some Australians consider that sort of accent declasse — sort of the Down Under equivalent of our Southern or "country" modes of speech — and I didn’t wish to insult Mr. Beattie. It could be that it’s a different sort of accent altogether, and I’m not hearing the difference.
But when I hear it, it has no negative associations. I equate it with strength of character — trustworthiness, forthrightness, the sort of personality that shrugs off adversity. In any case, it’s a mode of speech I like to listen to.