Guide to the lingo: what our pollies are really saying

THE words our politicians use can often seem baffling to the poor voters who need to choose between them at elections.

Rather than have millions of citizens despair as the election nears, we have pulled together this explanation of what the pollies mean when they use their focus-group-tested, bland and inoffensive phrases.


Used to describe a media outlet that does not support a party or politician's position.

For example, "The ABC's bias is there for all to see after its report bagging our plan to tear up the national highway and sell the rubble as cheap, clean fill".

Policy Area A will always be better under Party A than under Party B

Usually heard in relation to interest rates, this is what you say when there is absolutely no evidence to support what you are saying, but want to look good anyway.

Only used when there is absolutely no objective means of measuring whether it is true.


An economic favourite that essentially means that things are going to get worse (go down) before getting much, much better (rocket up).

Named after the shape of the letter itself, which starts low, gets lower then passes up and beyond the height of the start of the letter.

Spend more time with my family

A catch-all reason for leaving politics, or at least stepping down from a senior ministry or shadow portfolio.

It can sometimes be taken literally as the real reason somebody is stepping down.

Most suspect it can also mean "I wasn't getting a spot in the new cabinet", "they finally found out what I was really doing and I couldn't stay on without the scandal bringing us down" or "I expect to face criminal charges shortly".

I'm focussed on doing the best that I can for the people of my electorate
A relatively simple one - I wanted to be in the ministry, but I wasn't even offered a parliamentary secretary job.

I give the minister my full support
The minister is done-for. Ministers, by virtue of being ministers, are already assumed to have the leader's full support.

If the leader issues a statement that a particular minister has his or her full support, it is a key sign that the support is already crumbling and the minister's resignation "for the good of the party" is imminent.

Anthony Albanese.
Anthony Albanese.


I will not challenge
This is often spoken by potential alternative party leaders to reassure colleagues that they are indeed a team player.

A challenge is not the same as plotting to cause a vacancy, conspiring to cause somebody else to cause a vacancy or sending signals in to outer space in the hope that an alien invasion will topple the incumbent.

I cannot imagine any circumstances in which that would ever happen
The politician who utters this phrase is really saying "I am not stating my belief, which you are all aware of but that I haven't said in any forum where I could be quoted, that this really needs to happen right now".

Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Inga Williams


Never ever
This is on the list of things that most smart politicians do not say.

That said, there has been at least one famous case of saying "never ever" where it turned out that this meant about two years.

No, I'm not talking about Michael Jordan's pledge never to play in the NBA again.

We have a few more bits of business to get through
I'll choose the election date when I damn well like, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.


This is not about personalities, this is about policy (version one)
Nobody likes my personality, so why would I make it the issue?

This is not about personalities, this is about policy (version two)
I actually think I have a policy advantage, so can we please stop talking about what a nice bloke the other guy is?

Polls come and polls go. I don't provide a running commentary on polls
I am obsessed, even consumed, by polls in my every waking hour.

My party has whole teams of people analysing the smallest detail of every crackpot poll ever published. When the results don't help me, though, I don't talk about them.

The real question is XYZ
I don't have an answer to your question, or a truthful answer would be so politically damaging to me that I am just refusing to answer it.

If you allow me to answer my own totally unrelated question, however, I can look much better.

If you change the government, you change the country
We are pretty sure we are going to lose the election. If we can frighten a few stray supporters to come back to the fold, I might just keep my seat.

I respect the electorate, and the people always get it right

We lost. Not sure if it was entirely my fault, but I'll throw rocks in as many directions as I can to cast the blame elsewhere.

Plus, if I suck up to the electorate after they have just made me a loser, maybe they will consider electing me next time.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. Vicki Wood

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