Hands off our icons

The Australian Independent Media Network

fair dinkum Every time I hear a politician say ‘fair dinkum’ I cringe. Aside from sounding silly, it’s the desecration of an icon, the verbal equivalent of spraying graffiti on the Opera House.

Much of it comes down to the individual – Bob Hawke in many ways embodied the larrikin ideal, and his roughness allowed him to get away with slang. John Howard, in contrast, made everyone feel slightly uncomfortable and inclined to apologise on his behalf, when he announced to the world that Saddam needed to be fair dinkum about whether he possessed weapons of mass destruction.

In the televised debate in 2010 between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, Abbott dropped the term ‘fair dinkum’ four times before Gillard started using it back in an ironic sense. Even Kevin Rudd made his return to the campaign trail claiming that ‘I actually don’t think Mr Abbott is fair dinkum.’

But Tony…

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