The Guardian • Issue #2065


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2065
Weasel Words heading


A British Labour Party shadow trade secretary has said that when Labour gets into power, they’ll get on really well with the Biden administration because both parties have “worker-centric” trade policies. Lucky workers! The British Labour Party, like the Australian Labor Party, just love being worker-centric, almost as much as they love getting into power and doing things the conservatives were about to do. Workers are important to them. That’s why the self-styled “worker centric” British Labour Party banned its MPs from attending picket lines during the train drivers strike.

Incentive (blunting)

The Australian tax system has been becoming less and less progressive for a long time, starting with Howard’s introduction of the GST, a tax which charges billionaires and the unemployed the same amounts on goods and services, and most recently in the Stage 3 tax cuts served up to us by a Labor government that give the most “tax relief” to people on over $200 thousand a year. We are well on the way to a flat tax system, but it’s never enough for some people. The Australian Financial Review has described what’s left of the progressive tax system as “incentive blunting,” which must explain all those wealthy people who don’t bother to go to work. Poor Australians have so much incentive that they’re starting to cut back on food.

High wage economy

This sounds like a very good thing indeed, and the Guardian – The Workers’ Weekly would applaud it as a goal – if it weren’t being weaselishly called for by AIG (Australian Industry Group)’s Innes Wilcox. He wants a “high wage economy,” and thinks that the way to get there is through lower taxes for industry. This would be more convincing if the AIG hadn’t spent its entire existence arguing against higher wages and the union power which could achieve higher wages.


This cute combination of “law” and “warfare” is meant to imply that somebody is using the law the wrong way. It’s a reasonable way to criticise legal cases which are just aimed at silencing legitimate criticism, but “lawfare” is weaselish when it is used to argue that the law just shouldn’t be used at all. What’s the wrong way? If you mount too many spurious legal cases, the courts can decide you’re a vexatious litigant and fine you, or bar you or something. Lawfare doesn’t mean that. It just means using the law in a way people don’t like.

Transactional relationships

Transactional is a bad way for a relationship to be, right? It’s creepy to give your friends something and expect to get something back, isn’t it? Certainly we’d be upset if our mates started giving us receipts and bills every time we shouted them a beer, although if you think about it for a moment, we all want something back, so perhaps all relationships are “transactional” in some sense.

Pat Conroy, our Minister for International Development and the Pacific has said that Australia will not engage in “aid for transactional relationships,” when it comes to foreign aid to Pacific Island countries. We hope he’s run this pretend altruism past Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who has said “Australia is using all elements of our national power to advance our interests.” That sounds more than a little transactional.

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