Call for entries: additions to the Punch political dictionary
Are you a fan of The Wreckers? Do you reckon we’re out of the woods? Have you got your Julia Gillard Memorial Hall yet? And crucially, it is “fair suck” or “fair shake” of the sauce bottle?
The Macquarie Dictionary has opened its word of the year competition and there are six nominations in the political category. But we reckon there should be a few more than that. Some suggestions of phrases from 2009 that can be permanently added to the Australian political lexicon are below - add yours in the comments.
Detailed programmatic specificity: Appears to mean, er, a plan. But when you’re Kevin Rudd, why say it clearly in one syllable when you can say it confusingly in 11?
Fair shake of the sauce bottle: Another Rudd phrase which sparked some debate over whether he was butchering the phrase “fair suck of the sauce bottle”. As this article from ANU argues, however, the “shake” version was used in Parliament in 1995 so it has been in trade for some time. But it surely must be added to the political dictionary now on the basis that the PM managed to use it a rib-tickling three times in one television interview.
Bullshit: A favourite off-camera term in politics for decades but is now losing its shackles as a taboo term following the elevation of one of its more prominent droppers, Tony Abbott, to the leadership of the Opposition. Can be used to describe Abbott’s view of government policy or Malcolm Turnbull’s view of Abbott. Was also recently used by Peter Garrett in his piece on The Punch to describe Abbott’s emissions reduction position.
Anthropogenic global warming, or AGW: Literally means climate change caused by humans but its implied translation when used by climate change sceptics is that vast cuckoo lefty conspiracy to de-industrialise western society.
The OzCar fiasco / fake email affair / utegate: These are all the same thing, although a bit like Einstein’s theory of special relativity what you actually see depends on your location in space and time.
Great big tax: Another name for the emissions trading scheme, as described by the federal Opposition.
Fiskal: Yes, that’s F-I-S-K-A-L, as proposed by Senator Steve Fielding. Can replace the more conventional spelling fiscal, as in policy, stimulus, responsibility and lunacy.
Shovel-ready: An adjective to describe an construction project, specifically part of an economic stimulus plan that can start immediately for maximum effect on GDP. One of the candidates in the Macquarie list. Shovel-ready stimulus projects from the Rudd Government led to the coining of our next candidate phrase…
Julia Gillard Memorial Halls: New school buildings thrown up as part of the Government’s Building the Education Revolution project. Deployed widely by the federal Opposition during the debate on the effectiveness of school spending.
Grand bargain: Not to be confused with what you can get in a $2 store, a grand bargain is what Kevin Rudd called on world leaders to strike at the December 2009 Copenhagen climate change summit.
Decouple: A bit like the social networking neologism to de-friend, this refers to making two previously linked pieces of legislation go their separate ways on their passage through Parliament, rather than forcing them to stay together as it would just make everyone uncomfortable.
Wreckers: A group waging an open campaign to remove a party leader. Coined by Malcolm Turnbull during his last days as Liberal Leader in an extraordinary interview with Laurie Oakes, when he referred to “Nick Minchin and his wreckers”. Good name for a music act with Minchin as frontman, with backup vocals by Cory Bernardi and Wilson Tuckey.
Figjam: A type of response to Dorothy Dixers during Question Time, as government MPs tee up ministers to give an answer that can be effectively summarised as: “F… I’m good, just ask me”. An established bit of urban slang for someone who thinks they’re great, but given its political meaning by regulars at The Punch’s live coverage of Question Time, with special reference to questions asked of Treasurer Wayne Swan.
Tough but humane: The replacement for the Pacific Solution as Australia’s immigration policy, met with general confusion when the Prime Minister started using the phrase last year.
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