Funeral Service of the Unknown Australian Soldier by Hon P.J. Keating

Paul Keating

Paul Keating

This is one of the old speeches from the pre-2009 syllabus for for Module B: Critical Study of Texts – Speeches.

So there are already a lot of notes about this speech on Bored of Studies – I’ve suggested some key notes/essay from their resources at the bottom of this page under Links.

I found that this is one of the easiest speeches to teach, so I often teach it first – it’s easy to understand and has some easily identifiable techniques.

In terms of what to consider here:

  1. What is the purpose of Keating’s speech? Is it a merely a eulogy? Or is it more of a political speech?
  2. What values are evoked in this speech?

These are some good starting points to start thinking about – the 1st question can be quite helpful in thinking about the speech from the Module’s critical perspective. You should also compare this speech to Pearson’s.


  • Paul John Keating was the 24th Prime Minister of Australia (from 1991-1996) – John Howard then took over.
  • As Prime Minister, he pushed for Australia as a republic, Reconciliation with indigenous Australians etc.


  • Multicultural Australians – various ethnic groups as well as indigenous Australians
  • Televised nation wide – politicians, soldiers, families, officials


  • Delivered on 11 November 1993
  • On Remembrance Day, 75 years after World War I
  • In the middle of the Reconciliation debate – concerns about Aboriginals and Australia’s national identity

Techniques by Paragraph

I won’t do your analysis for you, but here is a general guideline:

  1. Identify where the listed techniques are in the speech.
  2. Explain their effect/purpose.

Para 1:

  • Inclusive language.
  • Emphatic diction – “never”

Para 2:

  • Repetition
  • Emphatic diction

Para 3:

  • Repetition
  • Statistics

Para 4:

  • Inclusive language
  • Metonymy

Para 5:

  • Simile
  • Dramatic language

Para 6:

  • Dramatic pause using conjunction

Para 7:

  • Emotive language
  • Contrast
  • Cliche

Para 8:

  • Dramatic pause using conjunction
  • Paradox

Para 9:

  • Juxtapositions of antithetical opposites (eg. war/peace, soldier/civilian)
  • Universal language

Para 10:

  • Juxtapositions of antithetical opposites

Para 11:

  • Paradox

Para 13-14:

  • Religious connotations


  • Discernible – can distinguish from
  • Folly – a mistake
  • Resilient – determined, enduring
  • Interring – putting (a dead body) into the grave
  • Ingenuity – cunning, genius


8 comments for “Funeral Service of the Unknown Australian Soldier by Hon P.J. Keating

  1. Abi
    May 20, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    It is a short speech, but way more interesting than the other speeches to choose from, coz they r sooo long, i loose interest, this and the funeral service are the most compatible…

  2. i am me
    November 15, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    very emotive good speech


  3. Vanessa
    May 11, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Very helpful information for my listening assessment task tomorrow.

  4. sarah
    June 13, 2012 at 12:06 am

    i just get confused when they ask us for the values of the speech, is it lik ethe same as themes??

  5. steph
    April 4, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    what about how this unified the world universally back then and today? and how come it is still remembered today? cause i cant find any information and its stressing me out

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