The Guardian • Issue #2096


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2096
Weasel Words heading

Assault (under)

Assault can be physical, verbal, or even financial. The weaselly use happens when someone uses ‘assault’ to describe a thing they just don’t like. US ambassador to Australia, Caroline (yet another) Kennedy, has said that Australia’s high-quality battery industry is “under assault” from Chinese firms. Back in the US, politicians are considering banning Chinese Electric Vehicles, no doubt for the crime of putting the Made in the USA variety under assault. The US loves competition except when China is winning it.


With overtones of being a bit too large, ‘hefty’ is what a journalist who is not themselves a teacher calls a wage rise for teachers. NSW teachers would describe the recent wage rise as “long overdue” and “much-needed.”


“We’ve gone from Bon Scott to Brian Johnson, but we’re still AC/DC.” These words were spoken by an anonymous senior Victorian government figure trying to get some excitement going about the Victorian government being led by Jacinta Allan (Brian Johnson in this metaphor) instead of Daniel Andrews (Bon Scott). AC/DC became even more super-popular after Scott’s death, but never locked up poor people in tower blocks, or knocked down Aboriginal birthing trees. The senior government minister quoted was anonymous, which is fair enough, although if there’s ever a ministry for cringe-inducing metaphors, they’ll be at the top of the queue.

Debt (existing)

An Australian Banking Association spokesperson has explained that banks will not consider HECS-HELP debt differently to other kinds of debt despite obvious differences, because it’s “existing.” The Communist Party of Australia dislikes HECS-HELP debt existing at all. It sure looks different to home loans, personal loans or credit cards; nobody is going to take your house or your car because of HECS-HELP debt, it’s impossible to default on it, and the debt only ever comes out of your tax. If that’s too complicated for the Australian Banking Association, maybe they’re in the wrong business.

Pacing (threat)

“Pacing threat” is allegedly what the US calls China. No, we don’t know what it means either; it just suggests that all of China is walking up and down somewhere, presumably, pacing while waiting for the USA to come up with a rational foreign policy.


This is one of those weasel words that announces a contradiction, like when someone says they’re going to be frank and you know they’re about to lie. Woodside CEO Megan O’Neill has excused the fossil fuel company’s woeful emissions reductions targets by saying that they’re “honest” about them (because, O’Neill claims, other companies have big targets but don’t really mean it). Real honesty would mean admitting that Woodside only has targets to try to get people off their back and isn’t otherwise interested in emissions reductions.

Void (strategic)

Voids are useful in public speechmaking. They sound a bit scientific, as well as a bad thing. Voids need to be filled. Richard Marles claims that there was a strategic void in Defence planning, which needs to be filled by Labor’s plans to undermine our sovereignty, and cost us a fortune with AUKUS. We were no fans of the Morrison government’s Defence planning, and maybe there was a void there, but continuing with an awful late-Morrison plan (AUKUS) seems a strange way to fill it.

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