Hands off our icons

fair dinkumEvery time I hear a politician say ‘fair dinkum’ I cringe. Aside from sounding silly, it’s the desecration of an icon, the verbal equivalent of spraying graffiti on the Opera House.

Much of it comes down to the individual – Bob Hawke in many ways embodied the larrikin ideal, and his roughness allowed him to get away with slang. John Howard, in contrast, made everyone feel slightly uncomfortable and inclined to apologise on his behalf, when he announced to the world that Saddam needed to be fair dinkum about whether he possessed weapons of mass destruction.

In the televised debate in 2010 between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, Abbott dropped the term ‘fair dinkum’ four times before Gillard started using it back in an ironic sense. Even Kevin Rudd made his return to the campaign trail claiming that ‘I actually don’t think Mr Abbott is fair dinkum.’

But Tony has now sent ‘fair dinkum’ into overdrive.

“I try to be fair dinkum with the Australian public and last night I was trying to be fair dinkum with Kerry O’Brien,”

“Who do you think is more fair dinkum? The people who stopped the boats in the past? Or the people who started them again?”

“Mr Rudd was talking about who do you trust? It’s really about who do you think is more fair dinkum? Who can you rely on to be build a better future?”

“Anything less than a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme would leave us poorer as a society, an economy and a country and the test of good government, after all, is to leave the country better off than you found it.”

Mr Abbott defended the policy – which cuts off at $75,000 for women earning $150,000 a year – as a “fair dinkum” plan that will deliver “workplace justice” for working mums.

‘If it’s right for people at the ABC to get a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme, why isn’t it right for the factory workers, shop assistants and people like that to get access to a similar scheme, and our scheme is fully funded.’

Mr Abbott has moved to reassure Indonesia that he is “fair dinkum” about respecting its sovereignty while also saying he “made it very clear that this was an issue of sovereignty for us”.

There are many more examples but you get my drift, and if that last one, said in October 2013 (oops), is anything to go by, the words have lost their meaning anyway.

Which is my point.

Fair dinkum means “true”, “the truth”, “speaking the truth”, “authentic” – at least it used to until politicians took it over.

Dr Evan Kidd, who has been researching Australian slang at La Trobe University, describes it like this:

“By using slang, politicians are trying to both align themselves with ‘Mr & Mrs Average Australian’ by showing them that they aren’t really different from anybody else despite their unusual job that (sometimes) comes with a high profile.

Australian politicians probably use it to conform to a stereotype of Australians as down to earth, no-nonsense, and a bit rough around the edges. I like to call this the “Daggy Uncle” effect, where people feel a slight tinge of embarrassment when someone is trying to sound cooler or more hip than they are generally perceived to be, like when one of your older family members uses teenage slang.”

But in this case I think it is far more sinister than trying to sound folksy. Tony Abbott is trying to convince us, and maybe himself, that he is a man of the people and for the people. “Who do you trust” he says. He would have us believe he is the real deal, a man of his word, a fair dinkum good bloke.

Well Tony, I call bullshit. You have no right to hijack our iconic phrase for your self-advertising. Fair dinkum implies an integrity that you seem to be completely lacking. Fair dinkum does not apply to political spin. It is not one of your slogans to put in front of all your crazy policies in a cynical attempt to validate them. You are demeaning the value of the phrase and everything it stood for in an Australia that is rapidly being taken over by PR image consultants and advertising gurus who are anything but fair dinkum.

I wonder if you were fair dinkum when you said you would lead a transparent and accountable government?

I wonder if you were fair dinkum when you said “One thing that I’m determined to do is build a country where no one ever feels like a stranger, to build a country where the bonds of social solidarity, the bonds of social solidarity, the bonds of community are stronger and stronger.”

Were you fair dinkum when you made the commitment to the Australian people that “There will not be deals done with independents and minor parties under any political movement that I lead”?

Fair suck of the sav Tony, get off the grass. Don’t come the raw prawn with us – Aussies can tell shit from clay yanno. ‘She’ll be right’ is wearing a bit thin mate. Seems more like ‘I’m all right Jack and the rest of you galahs can bugger off’. And if ya don’t mind, use your own bloody sayings, gawd knows ya got a million of em, and leave our fair dinkum alone!

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Categories: Politics

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69 replies

  1. Tony Abbott is a fair dinkum twat.

  2. We know, but thanks for pointing it out, that when Abbott uses the term Fair Dinkum, it means exactly the opposite. I wonder constantly at the disconnect between his words and his actions, fair dinkum he’s a lying weaselly scoundrel.

  3. Don’t say that, Lee. I used to like twats. Good article,but.

  4. Anzac day has been hijacked by the AFL. Americana ideology now runs this country. Tony Abbott is just as dangerous as Adolf Hitler. fair dinkum. The best daggy uncle we ever had was John Howard. He used this ruse to perfection.

  5. McLuhan “the medium is the message” and this mob are doing everything they can too deceive the public into thinking they are just one of the crowd. Their visceral disregard for the working class, unemployed and poor is written all over their policies and attitudes while they bleat on using colloquialisms as if they were one o me wrokin class mates.

    Damn con-men and lairs.

    Fair suck of the sav lovey.
    Jees mate your such a friggin turkey, wanker and liar.
    Wotcha gunna fuck up now you slimy liberal ingrate?
    Fair dinkum if I was fair dinkum I’d stuff his head up his ass and let him fight for air.
    Sooner he runs out the better.
    Just sayin.
    Fair dincum what a turd.

    A fine literary moment.

  6. When Kevin Rudd said, “Fair shake of the sauce bottle” there were numerous references and articles written about it. Yet nobody blinks when Abbott uses slang.
    Strangely, Rudd IS actually Australian, whereas Abbott didn’t take out citizenship until in his twenties. Perhaps it was a condition of citizenship in those days that you had to talk like a bloke from the 1950’s to convince the authorities that you were fair dinkum and being a dinky di Aussie, and not some pommie bastard just trying to get a Rhodes Scholarship.

  7. Struth, I just noticed that I used the words, bloke and dinky di. I wasn’t trying to take the micky. I just talk that way coz I’m a true blue aussie who’s dad was a simple cocky from up the bush.

  8. Abbott can never be fair dinkum until he moves on from

    A little off topic, but another phrase that needs looking at. Sometimes I wonder what it means, and what weigh it really carries.

    Yes, the phrase that5 this government uses daily, that of fully funded.

    To me, it only means that money has been allocated in the budget, that comes from the taxpayer. Yes, they choose to spend our money on that, and not on essentials such as education and health, along with welfare.

    It fact the term, means little,

    When Gillard announced the NDIS and Gonski, it went into the budget , finding cuts in other areas, to make room for the new initiatives,

    This we are not hearing from this government. In fact we only heard opposition from all the cuts, Gillard proposed.

    Anything is affordable., It depends on what ones priorities are.

    Not all government spending is a cost but can be a investment in the country’s future.

    No Abbott is no way dinky di. He has no interest in building, just conning the public.

  9. So, we’re deciding now who can and can’t use colloquialisms? WTF?

  10. Obviously Dan, in these days of free speech, I cannot stop anyone from saying what they like. Your literal take on the article misses the point.

  11. Dan, hardly an article is written here without you complaining about it.

    If you don’t like the place then quietly walk away.

  12. I have no problem with criticism and I often find Dan’s comments thought-provoking but that one was just silly.

  13. Agreed, Kaye.

    Maybe Dan just got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning. 😉

  14. Clearly it’s yet another example of the double standards applied when it concerns the Libs..agreed Rossleigh.

  15. Speaking of Rudd, the media went into hysterics over his “fork in the road” comment when he took over the leadership of the ALP. So yes, double standards do apply.

  16. Personally I would expect our politicians to have a handle on ordinary language and to use it well. There is nothing wrong with clear and explicit speech free from mendacious overuse of colloquialisms. Government is responsible for the general education of our children and should be held to a high standard of communication. In private fine however your roles is to set an example to our children. This is not a denial of free speech but a responsibility politicians have to use language that teaches kids to think coherently.

  17. I thought the problem is, the misuse of our icons.

  18. Kaye Lee,

    If I’ve missed the point of the article, please explain it to me. It seems to me that you want to demonise Abbott so completely that his use of an innocent colloquialism can’t be in any way authentic. Please tell me that’s not the extent of what you’re on about. If your point is simply that such a phrase used by people whom you deem to be generically dishonest is grating, I get it and agree, but wonder if it’s worth an article on a serious political blog.

    Roswell,

    Don’t handle dissent or criticism very well do you? Totalitarian much?

  19. The point is that the use of the phrase is a deliberate attempt to convey a perception. In my opinion Tony has been micro-managed to the point where every word is scripted to achieve the desired affect, as I explained in the article, or tried to anyway. I don’t want my politicians to appear folksy – I want them to be articulate. I have given up on hoping for inspired. Describing his paid parental leave scheme as “fair dinkum” implies that he truly cares about working conditions for women, something that every other decision he has made proves to be a lie. he is a cynical manipulator who is as far from fair dinkum as you can get.

    Aside from that, the constant repetition shows a distinct lack of eloquence.

    And as far as whether my articles are worth it or not, that is for others to judge.

  20. The Liberal Party and their MSM lackies – or should that be MSM masters ? – have been very clever (read “devious” ) with their use of language for some time now. The constant phrasing of Labor Party achievements in government as negatives – the pink batts “disaster” or the school halls “fiasco” to cite just two examples – was very effective in turning what should have been a positive for Gillard / Rudd in the lead up to the 2013 election into a negative.
    This has as its corollary the couching of negative stories in positive terms. Hence, Barry O’Farrell’s resignation or Sidoninis standing aside become triumphs of integrity and selflessness rather than grubby politicking. Tony’s minders clearly feel that he needs to re-connect with Howard’s Battlers in an attempt to arrest his slide in popularity so undoubtedly we will see an avalanche of “fair dinkums” and the like in coming months however I doubt that “shit happens” will get another run.

  21. Roswell,

    Dan, hardly an article is written here without you complaining about it.

    You know what, far too many articles written here are ruined by bullshit. Victoria’s recent piece was emblematic. Parts of John’s recent piece were just unforgivably silly. I hate it. I like this place and the people here, but I can’t stomach the bullshit. I will damn well point out bullshit when I see it and you can suck it the fuck up. Tough love and all that …

    If you don’t like the place then quietly walk away.

    You interpret criticism as not liking the place? You might want to reflect on that a little bit…

  22. Dan, your opinions are truly respected, but at times your language is not very endearing.

  23. Kaye Lee,

    Ok, so I think we’ve established that Abbott cannot speak at all without it being interpreted and characterised as manipulative and disingenuous. No wonder the guy doesn’t want to say much.

    I tend to have a similar feeling about my pollies and leaders that I want them to be articulate and sound intelligent. But it’s ultimately an irrational prejudice as eloquence doesn’t mean much in the end. Rudd was eloquent and yet quite the shithead. It’s really hard to shake that prejudice, so I totally understand why people have it, but I recognise it for what it is.

    Not allowing one person to be in any way an Aussie larrakin (Tony Abbott) but allowing it, even lauding it, for another (Bob Hawke) purely on the basis that we don’t like them is petty and silly. It’s hard not to interpret what’s happening here in that way.

    If someone on a right-wing blog had written anything remotely like this about Rudd or Gillard, what would our reaction to it be?

    Never mind. That question is rhetorical.

    Indicative of the sort of shit I’m finding intolerable at present:

    Strangely, Rudd IS actually Australian, whereas Abbott didn’t take out citizenship until in his twenties. Perhaps it was a condition of citizenship in those days that you had to talk like a bloke from the 1950′s to convince the authorities that you were fair dinkum and being a dinky di Aussie, and not some pommie bastard just trying to get a Rhodes Scholarship.

    Not only does commentary like this perpetuate a stupid and contemptible libel, if you were to change the characters and ethnicity involved it would be deemed utterly racist, and with good reason. Yet, we keep saying it. Seriously, wtf?

  24. Roswell,

    Dan, your opinions are truly respected, but at times your language is not very endearing.

    My language is an expression of frustration and disappointment. I appreciate that for some it may be emotionally confronting, but it’s authentic. Don’t you think it’s interesting that when others use similar language to criticise the “enemy” you say nothing? It is not the language with which you have an issue.

  25. First, Abbott is an insult to the Country.
    He does have the major cringe factor, as in Davos.
    But, fair dinkum, “and leave our fair dinkum alone!”

    what ? any immigrant is banned from using the term ?
    Oh well, a new saying for our indigenous Australians.
    I voted for him, but fair dinkum, I cringed when Kev came up with the “fair suck of the sauce bottle”
    Some folk can get away with it some can’t , but that’s just a personal interpretation.
    Fair dinkum, I got insulted when the RW bloggers bagged Julia’s voice , but there are some in the LNP that grate on me, so best left well alone

  26. “Abbott cannot speak at all without it being interpreted and characterised as manipulative and disingenuous.”

    Gee I wonder how that happened? Would it have anything to do with the fact that he is a self-confessed weathervane who freely admits to gearing his words to the audience as in his infamous “climate change is crap” comment?

    I don’t think expecting our politicians to be articulate and sound intelligent is an irrational prejudice. In fact I think it is a crucial prerequisite for the job. they are only frontmen and if they can’t do that with some sort of aplomb then what use are they?

    And to say I am lauding Bob Hawke for being a knockaround bloke is incorrect. I simply pointed out the public perception of Bob. Personally I found him boorish.

    Regarding the citizenship thing, I think the angst comes from the fact that he didn’t consider it important to be a citizen of Australia until it was useful for him. When he found out he couldn’t accept the Rhodes Scholarship he so dearly wanted because he wasn’t an Australian citizen he quickly moved heaven and earth to get the paperwork in on time. I accept that this is not a reason to berate him – we often don’t think of such things until prompted to do so – it just adds to the “what’s in it for me” perception that many of us have of Tony.

  27. Kaye Lee

    My nightmare quotient is already quite full – have been cringing at the inappropriate use of colloquialisms since Howard and all political leaders since. Did not need any reminders.

    The most time I spend on latest Australian PM is to note what colour his tie is today (lemme see…. today’s… colour… is….. blue).

    However, it does not hurt to point out to pollies we can recognise disingenuous-speak when we hear it.

    😛

  28. But, enough about me…

  29. “By using slang, politicians are trying to both align themselves with ‘Mr & Mrs Average Australian’ by showing them that they aren’t really different from anybody else…

    The other thing I despise is when politicians (of any breed) use sports terminology to connect with the masses.

    Recently we has Abbott’s facile statement: “Test cricketers occasionally drop catches, great footballers occasionally miss tackles and, regretfully, there were a couple of occasions when this mistake was made – but it won’t happen again.”

    When I heard that one, I wanted to throw something through the TV screen!

  30. It would be better for this site if Rowden were banned from posting here.

  31. “what ? any immigrant is banned from using the term ?”

    That is a total non-sequiter and a misrepresentation of what I am saying nurses 1968.

    My point is that the phrase has a meaning, it means truthful or authentic, and to use it for political advertising trying to suggest that you are “fair dinkum” is a cynical exercise in manipulation. How you extrapolate that to mean only Aborigines can use the term is beyond me.

  32. I suspect Dan is really an annoying troll. He’s wrong and the author is spot on. Serial liars like Tony Abbott using the ‘fair dinkum’ phrase is nothing short of disgusting. He can’t even use it correctly.

  33. Viv,

    Dan isn’t a troll. I respect his opinion on most things which does not mean I always agree with him. He is however overly grumpy at times.

  34. Silkworm,
    No, he should not be banned from the site.
    vivienne29,
    No, he is not a troll.

  35. Most here only repeat what Abbott does and says. How does that demonise him. Suspect he is capable of doing that to himself.

    I have seen no evidence that he is fair dinkum, or even dinky di. Maybe others can point out where he has shown to be.

  36. Kaye Lee,

    I agree that eloquence in a politician is a positive trait (if it denotes actual intelligence rather than a learned skill.). My point is that the lack of it doesn’t mean anything of itself. I don’t recall Chifley being renowned for his eloquence.

    I agree Hawke could be boorish. Funny that mostly we didn’t care. But apparently for Abbott it’s unforgivable.

    Regarding the citizenship thing, I think the angst comes from the fact that he didn’t consider it important to be a citizen of Australia until it was useful for him. When he found out he couldn’t accept the Rhodes Scholarship he so dearly wanted because he wasn’t an Australian citizen he quickly moved heaven and earth to get the paperwork in on time. I accept that this is not a reason to berate him – we often don’t think of such things until prompted to do so – it just adds to the “what’s in it for me” perception that many of us have of Tony.

    God give me strength. Abbott didn’t become an Australian citizen. He was one by reason of descent. He only got the paperwork because people demanded it of him for particular purposes. The way this issue is being characterised by members of the Left is nothing short of disgusting. Please don’t buy into this crap.

  37. “Abbott didn’t become an Australian citizen. He was one by reason of descent.”

    When Anthony John Abbott was born to an English father and a first-generation Australian mother at a general lying-in hospital in York Road, Lambeth, London, on 4 November 1957, his parents did not register him as an Australian infant born overseas or immediately apply for Australian citizenship on his behalf.

    Presumably because at that time Richard and Fay Abbott thought they would be permanently living in England and raising a family there.

    In fact it was not until over twenty years after the family had arrived in Australia as subsidised assisted migrants that Tony Abbott’s parents applied to register his birth with the Dept. of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and apply for his citizenship, in a document/s dated 19 June 1981.

    This application appears to have been treated as urgent by departmental staff.

    His parents were subsequently informed in a letter dated 1 July 1981 that Anthony John Abbott was now deemed to be an Australian citizen under Section 11 of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 which allowed citizenship by descent.

    He therefore had only one official nationality status – as a British subject and citizen.
    Just because one of your parents is Australian does not automatically confer Australian citizenship. It may give you the right to apply for it but unless you apply then you are NOT automatically a citizen

  38. I’m with Dan Rowden
    Don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Too much chocolate at Easter?

  39. I find that sort of dismissive comment unnecessarily arrogant Douglas. If the story doesn’t interest you then why comment? Implying that I am some kid on a sugar hyperactive kick is rather insulting. Disagree by all means, but your condescending dismissal is uncalled for.

  40. I suspect Dan is really an annoying troll.

    And people wonder why I get grumpy at times. Sigh.

  41. And people wonder why I get
    grumpy at times…

    Let me guess. Is it because, when you are being grumpy, people accuse you of being a troll? Is that what makes you grumpy?

    Oh yeah… that’s going to come back to bite me!!!

  42. Dan, you were grumpy when you rolled up this morning. I don’t think you can blame anybody here for that.

  43. I noticed that. Then I dared to speak.

  44. Michael,

    I’ve been grumpy for a while. I certainly can’t blame anyone for that because my emotional responses to things are my responsibility. Bullshit makes me grumpy at the moment and there’s far too much bullshit being spoken. Yes, that’s my opinion and perception but I’m entitled to express it and I’m entitled to express it without having it suggested I’m a troll.

    My grumpiness is an expression at my exasperation at how pathetic the Left has been lately in terms of its level of argument and in more general terms of the quality of what it seems to have to offer. And what the Left has to offer has never been more politically and culturally important than it is now. Never.

    I’m sorry if that offends you in some way. If disagreement and dissent concerns many of you, then fine, become another version of Independent Australia and have a bunch of fun doing so. If my criticisms are so vacuous they can be dismissed as mere “grumpiness” on my part then I suppose I’m a bigger blockhead than I thought (no, that’s not a segue for you, Silkworm).

    I would ask you to consider that when lefties are upset and grumpy it’s entirely possible it’s because they really give a crap.

  45. Apology not accepted.

  46. …when lefties are upset and grumpy it’s entirely possible it’s because they really give a crap.

    So impressed that someone really cares.

  47. Silkworm,

    I didn’t apologise or anything close to that. I would find your perception that I have something to be apologetic about interesting, except that it’s you, and therefore that is impossible.

  48. I actually liked it when Rudd said ‘fair shake of the sauce bottle’ as ‘fair suck of the sav’ was deemed rude in many families – sort of like saying ‘sugar’ instead of ‘sh*t’. He could hardly have used the more vulgar phrase in public. Even though I know all the words I do think it best that profanity and vulgarism is left to private comments.

    Regarding Abbott’s use of fair dinkum, I tend to assume it is in the typical tall tale – y’know ‘ fair dinkum, it really was that big’, type of bs.

    Abbott is not like a daggy uncle, more like the super sleazy creepy drongo cousin that no-one wants to acknowledge.

  49. Kaye Lee
    No idea what your last comment to me refers to. Didn’t say a word about you or your article. Just thought Dan who (IMHO) makes excellent sense most times he comments, is certainly no troll and this time also expressed a valid point of view, needed a bit of support. I’ve just had a lovely walk in Yarra Bend Park – late afternoon sunshine, happy dogs, smiling people. Did me a world of good. Perhaps you are getting just a teensy bit sensitive and would benefit from a little time away from the screen too.

  50. Thanks for the advice Doug. Perhaps you would like to finish my BAS for me, or ring the ATO to explain that I needed to take a walk.

    Perhaps I misunderstood your “too much chocolate” comment. If so I apologise.

  51. Good evening men and women of Australia,my name is Tony Abbott and im a fucking moron.”’fair dinkum.

  52. “I’m sorry if that offends you in some way.”

    A fake apology.

  53. truth is, no matter what he does or how hard he tries, Tony Abbott will never be one of us.

  54. OK Dan, you’re grumpy and we can move on.

    And no, I wasn’t offended. But I do prefer it and enjoy the parts of your discussions that address the real issues at hand. I place a high value on your contributions when you focus on the issue, and not the writer.

  55. Since language is a significant aspect of the human race, it is significant how people speak. We do judge people by how they speak as well as how they behave. The manner and words politicians use speaks volumes about their sincerity and their view of the world.

    I remenber reading an article in ‘The Age’ following Joh Bjelke -Petersen’s death where it was revealed that journalists had actually edited what he had said in order to make him at least coherent to the public. Words and language do matter and to say that they are of no consequence shows a lack of education.

    Mr Abbott’s use of the term “fair dinkum” has been overdone. It would appear that he finds it difficult to utter the words “true”, “truth” and “honest”, because they are much stronger ethical words than the colloquial “fair dinkum”.

    Finally, there are terms one can use instead of an expletive or abusive term when addressing people and discussing issues and using expletives at people gives the recipient the message that you have no respect for them as a person.

  56. Speaking of a lack of education , I should have said “”The manner and words politicians use speak volumes…”

  57. Well said VB.

    and also to Paul Sherwood 12:04 pm. I missed your comment before. I have actually been working around typing way too much but thank you all for an interesting discussion.

  58. Silkwood,

    “I’m sorry if that offends you in some way.”

    A fake apology.

    Wow, you’re not as dim and you sim. Nice job.

  59. Abbott’s use of ‘fair dinkum’ is like somebody saying ‘fair dinkum, my chooks turned into emus and kicked the dunny down’.
    This is why he uses it so much – he is really telling another big furphy.

  60. Rowden deliberately misspelled my name. He is a troll and should be banned from this site.

  61. Yeah, Tone, Onya Bike! Yer as useful as tits on a bull and as functional as a whim wom for a goose’s bridle.

  62. silkworm,

    Rowden deliberately misspelled my name. He is a troll and should be banned from this site.

    Ooops, didn’t even notice. My bad. But seriously, “silkworm” is your name? That’s pretty cool.

  63. Just read down to here ( 10 days late ) dont think I miss much while I was camping over Easter/ Anzac. Dan you may have been right that every one here had a bit too much chocolate but you really cant compare Bob Hawke with Abbott except that neither of them knew what to do to run a country. ( What makes failed lawyers think they know how to run a country.) Anyway Bob could say fair dinkum and Abbott cant, its just not him.

    I did get to the Anzac march in Broken Hill though. Great turn out and no politicians. A bit of time to respect and reflect on the stupidity of giving your life for your country only to have someone with no respect yelling ” Australia, its all for sale ” 99 years later.

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