The Guardian • Issue #2049

Weasel Words

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2049
Weasel Words heading

Hitler (just like)

By now, everyone has heard of “Godwin’s law”, an internet saying amounting to this: if you compare someone to Hitler or the Nazis, you’ve lost the argument. Not quite everyone, however. Lawyer for the WA industrial registrar, Cav Saraceni, has described the WA branch of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) standing up to the industrial registrar and voting on a strike as being like Hitler. No apology was given, but Saraceni explained that it was the first thing that came to her mind, and instead compared the union to Karl Marx. We’re too polite here to say what the first thing that came into our mind was on hearing about this, but it’s nicer to be compared to Marx, so we suppose Saraceni gets points for trying.


Rental app Snug is supposedly there to help make life easier for would be tenants and estate agents. Recently, an ABC report found that desperate tenants have paid $80 just to promote their applications with Snug and another such app, before getting into rent bidding by offering $80 more than a listed rental to actually get a roof over their heads. Snug explained that they actively discourage rent bidding. The active approach didn’t extend to telling anyone what they did to discourage it. Snug is presumably actively hanging on to the money the couple paid to make themselves “stand out from the pack”.


Normally this word is a euphemism, as when you want to say something about someone’s grey hair, but don’t want to say “old” (hint: saying nothing at all is always an option). David Littleproud has described Dutton’s decision to appoint Jacinta Nampijinpa Price as his shadow minister for Indigenous people as “mature.” Price got the job because Julian Leeser discovered some principles and resigned to support the Yes vote for the Voice to Parliament. Replacing him with a right-wing ally and Voice opponent is not so much “mature” as “expedient”. Given the rate at which Liberals are leaving the sinking Dutton ship, we think Littleproud might be just trying to be polite about “desperate.”


The word is a weasel word in the topsy-turvy world of serious Australian political commentary. The Nine-Fairfax’s warmonger-in-chief, Peter Hartcher has penned an admiring piece about Penny Wong’s response to Paul Keating’s criticisms of our craven foreign policy. Keating, Hartcher implied, wants Australia to “attach itself to a great power.” In Wong/Hartcher world, we’d be attaching ourselves to China by not stapling ourselves to the USA’s foreign policy. “We will always pursue greater self-reliance,” said Wong. Wong’s government is being self-reliant but mortgaging our future so we can become an American submarine base. We’re self-reliant in the same way that my dog is a submarine designer.


Foreign Minister Penny Wong, busy standing up for Australia’s freedom to ask “how high?” when the USA says “Jump!” is on a mission. Unfortunately for Australian workers, it’s a mission to prove that the Labor Party can be just as slavish towards the US as the Liberal-National Coalition is. In pursuit of this goal, Wong has described the USA as “indispensable.” We’re not so sure. Our phones are indispensable because we’d be lost without them. But we like phones! Our subservience to the US is “indispensable” in the sense of being something both our bourgeois governing parties feel they can’t do without. I’m allowed to leave my phone at home if I want to, but the Labor and Liberal parties just know we’re not allowed to go without the “indispensable” USA, whether we like it or not. No, Australians, we do not get to choose under the current system.

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