The Guardian • Issue #2077


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2077
Weasel Words heading

Focussed on

One of many weasel words designed to avoid questions while sounding active. When a politician is asked why they haven’t done something they’ve promised to do, they can simply say that they are ‘focussed’ on something else. The something else should be a good thing, but not one on which they can be held to account.

Why has Tanya Plibersek approved coal mines since becoming environment minister, thus massively increasing Australia’s carbon emissions? She’s probably focussed on increasing renewable energy.


Shed a tear for fossil-fuel extraction company Woodside. They knew they were supposed to talk with First Nations people before going ahead with seismic blasting off Western Australia. The authority in charge found their consultation inadequate, but let them blast anyway (authorities are nice like that, when you’re a large mining company). The traditional owners challenged the decision and won.

This result has pleased First Nations people, also anyone who cares about the whales which were harmed by the seismic testing, but has saddened Australian Energy Producers.  They’ve said that energy developments need regulations with ‘clarity,’ so they can get on with boiling the planet while pretending they’re helping people. This is the sort of clarity you ask for after you’ve pushed it and lost.

Heroic (Netanyahu)

There’s nothing funny about Netanyahu’s description of the Israeli Defence Force assault as ‘heroic’. More than 8000 people have died, and he’s deliberately bombing and starving children. The man does not care what the word ‘heroic’ means.

Moral: see ‘heroic.’


No, no, not the droning song written by Paul Kelly and made famous by Australian Crawl which can still be heard on ‘Classic Hits’ radio stations.

The Australian government has an aim of 82 per cent cuts to emissions in the electricity grid by 2030 (don’t get too excited – that’s only the electricity grid we’re talking about. They’re still increasing emissions in other ways, as listed in our Green Notes column). Peter Dutton has described the aim as “a reckless figure”. ‘Reckless’ certainly is a good way to describe Australia and carbon emissions in general – after bushfires worse than any ever recorded, our governments still prefer to listen to donors than to scientists or voters, but in Dutton’s hands ‘reckless’ is a Trumpian weasel word – it means nothing but sounds scary.


Nine newspapers economics columnist Ross Gittins in the midst of a sensible piece about taxes, services, and why the two are connected, dropped this sentence: “It’s clear we’ll need to spend a lot more on the AUKUS nuclear submarines.”  This is known as uncritically accepting the narrative. We will need to spend a lot on the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarines only if we as a nation go ahead with the project, in the same way that I need a match and some fuel if I’ve decided to burn my house to the ground.

Complex and emotional

The publisher of The Saturday Paper explaining why he doesn’t want to talk about Gaza, Palestine, or why his publications go very soft on Israel. Yes, emotions are running high,  but what’s wrong with Israel’s murderous attack on Gaza is far from complex.

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