The Guardian • Issue #2090

WEASEL WORDS

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2090
Weasel Words heading

Learning

For Home Affairs secretary Stephanie Foster, ‘learning’ is a get-out-of-jail card. Home Affairs twice ordered audits on the wrong company, letting another allegedly crooked company scoop up contracts worth billions under the far-from-watchful eye of then Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton. Nobody has faced consequences for this, but not to worry, Foster has assured the Senate estimates committee that the department has “learned from the past.”

Anomaly

If you sent a nuclear-capable ballistic missile up in the air and it came almost straight down in the same spot instead of thousands of kilometres away as planned, would you call that an anomaly, or use stronger language? Grant Schapps, British Defence Secretary who was on the submarine that almost got clobbered by its own $33 million AUD missile test has described the near-miss as an ‘anomaly,’ which is generous from someone it’s so close to being hit by the thing. Australian readers needn’t feel smug about this – these are quite possibly the missiles we’ll wind up with as part of AUKUS.

Event-specific

Grant Schapps again, on that missile test. If you test a missile and the thing doesn’t work, not to mention comes close to wiping out a Defence Secretary and and the head of the navy, it looks like the missile has failed the test, but Schapps says it’s ‘event specific,’ meaning it won’t happen again. Britain will just have to take his word for it, which is $33 million cheaper than testing the thing again.

‘Under pressure’

No, not the Queen/David Bowie collaboration, but how Gary Pilnick, multi-millionaire CEO of Kellogg described consumers so poor that they eat cereal for dinner (at least Gary hopes they will). Gary also described cereal as a ‘great destination,’ which is what poverty looks like when you’re a really rich cereal company Chief Executive. We’re sure our readers have ideas about what a great destination might be for Gary Pilnick.

On the ball

If you’re on the ball, you’re wide awake and you know what’s what, right? Not if you’re Peter Dutton and Dan Tehan, who have had a great old time claiming that a recently-released detainee accused of sexual assault was very guilty and that this proved the government wasn’t being cruel enough to asylum seekers. Confronted with his party’s lynch-mob enthusiasm after police had exonerated the man, Tehan said it was important to keep the community “on the ball”, meaning in this case furious and misinformed.

Robust

This word is a perennial euphemism that gets a lot of work making bullying, rage and obscenity look like manly frankness. Brad Banducci, the Woolworths CEO who resigned after a train-crash interview was being asked about the Coles-Woolies reputation for bullying suppliers.  He responded that they have some “robust conversations.”  We’re sure they do, Brad. One farmer in the same program found the conversations so robust, he decided to get out of farming altogether.

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