Posted by: u4499075 | September 20, 2009

What did he say?

Kevin Rudd has recently been criticised for using “robust language” speaking to some of his back benchers, regarding the cut back of printing allowances for politicians – I’ll leave the opinions to you on that…

My point is that in a day and age when the expletives are used high and wide, in pretty much every corner, is this still a “politically correct” issue within the government?

On a separate instance – I actually watched one of the proceedings for the House of Representatives, during the weekend and on various occasions I heard “order” being called out from the speaker various times and someone remind the House of the rules and regulations of interjecting and inappropriate language.

Is it feasible to expect professionals, in the midst of discussions, arguments or debates, to avoid face threatening acts (as discussed by Brown and Levinson), when the very nature of debates indicates that opposition must take place – and goodness knows, elevated emotions. Do Australians in professional institutions such as the Government get more emotionally involved in debates than my understanding of cross-cultural language use would suggest? Are the structures of debates changing or being influenced by global practices, so that being polite comes below stating a point of view?

Have politicians, such as is the case with Mr Kevin Rudd, become more involved (emotionally? personally?) with political issues? Is the language structure used in parliamentary proceedings likely to change to a greater degree in the future, with much more use of language such as what Mr K Rudd is being criticised for? Or is this merely an emotionally-driven slip-of-the-tongue?

And in any case, what was the awful “robust language” that Mr Rudd has used??



  1. A week is a long time in politics and a short time in language history. Parliament is a fascinating linguistic arena because, as you point out, it is oppositional by its very nature and purpose. So I would say that any accusation of rudeness is most likely a calculated part of the political theatre, not a genuine concern about loss of face. I doubt, too, that “robust language” whatever it is will become absorbed into the parliamentary register faster than in other social contexts. Paul Keating, for instance, makes subsequent PMs look postively decorous. Consider this collection of his finest insults:
    “harlots, sleazebags, frauds, immoral cheats, blackguards, pigs, mugs, clowns, boxheads, criminal intellects, criminals, stupid crooks, corporate crooks, friends of tax cheats, brain-damaged, loopy crims, stupid foul-mouthed grub, piece of criminal garbage, dullards, stupid, mindless, crazy, alley cat, bunyip aristocracy, clot, fop, gigolo, hare-brained, hillbilly, malcontent, mealy-mouthed, ninny, rustbucket, scumbag, scum, sucker, thug, dimwits, dummies, a swill, a pig sty, Liberal muck, vile constituency, fools and incompetents, rip-off merchants, perfumed gigolos, gutless spiv, glib rubbish, tripe and drivel, constitutional vandals, stunned mullets, half-baked crim, insane stupidities, champion liar, ghouls of the National Party, barnyard bullies, piece of parliamentary filth.” From Mungo MacCallum’s How to Be a Megalomaniac

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