This is a sample of The Echidna newsletter sent out each weekday morning till the end of the election. To sign up for FREE, go to theechidna.com.au
Sufferers of onomatophobia experience panic and dread when they hear certain words. It's a condition more common than you think. To millions of Australians the simple word "election" triggers weeks of hot sweats and dry mouths, while some of Scott Morrison's dinner guests have been known to turn pale and tremble uncontrollably whenever he utters the phrase "ukulele, anyone?".
But in politics it's not always what you say but what you don't that says a lot about you. Dr Kirstin Ferguson, an adjunct professor at the Queensland University of Technology's business school, analysed a month's worth of speeches and media conferences given by Morrison and Anthony Albanese from the start of this current election campaign. What she discovered tells us much about the words - and subjects - both men are anxious to avoid.
No prizes for guessing Morrison's favourite word. Out of the 190,000-odd words he publicly used during the first month of the campaign - and that number sure feels like it is missing several zeroes - "economy" popped out of his mouth 681 times, with "strong/strongly" coming in a robust second. Albanese uttered "economy" only 108 times (his favourite word was "care", which he used on 222 occasions).
Their least favourite phrases and words? Morrison only mentioned "climate change" 13 times (he used the word "mate" more often) while Albanese said it 87 times (and wasn't far behind Morrison in his use of "mate"). For those pining for greater political acknowledgement of important women's issues, not once did either leader say "domestic abuse", "violence against women" or "sexual harassment".
"Compassion" is also a word both avoid - Morrison uttered it once, Albanese just four times. If you want to read a more comprehensive list of Dr Ferguson's analysis you can find it here. Interestingly, there is not a long or complicated word mentioned in her report, suggesting both leaders may suffer from hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia - an intense fear of long words. Well, they probably don't. But The Echidna has been waiting to use that word in a column for 40 years...
As we know it's that four-letter word "poll" that politicians tend to fear the most. Yesterday's full release of an in-depth YouGov survey on voting intentions, conducted in every seat in the country, found that Labor would end up with an 80-seat majority if an election had been held this week, with the Coalition reduced to 63 seats. A crossbench of one Green and seven independents would rule out a hung Parliament.
Morrison and his senior ministers downplayed the importance of the poll in the same manner condemned men refer to a noose as just another length of hessian rope. But it still had a seismic effect within Liberal circles. The NSW Treasurer Matt Kean warned that the loss of key Liberal seats to teal independents could lead to a splintering of his party. "We've seen the impact of what happens when the centre-right parties lose moderate voices," he said. "Look at the Republican party, the party of Lincoln, the party that abolished slavery. [It] has now become the party of Trump, the party of Putin sympathisers and anti-vaxxers."
The Coalition only has a week left to sway enough swinging voters to stick with them, a difficult task when the entire electorate is already suffering from mass pistanthrophobia - a deep-seated fear of trusting others, particularly politicians bearing gifts and empty words.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Is there a word or issue you're tired of hearing in this campaign? What about those you want to hear more about? And with seven days left, what's your election outcome tip? Send us your views: email@example.com
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
- The final debate between both leaders on the Seven network attracted more than 500,000 metro viewers, slightly lower than the previous weekend debate on Nine. Albanese was declared the winner by 150 undecided voters in seven marginal seats around the country.
- Labor promised $100 million in a partnership with the Queensland government to create a battery manufacturing precinct in Gladstone.
- The Coalition announced a $55 million partnership with the Tasmanian government to improve mental health services throughout the state.
- The Greens called for the abolition of the Australian Border Force and offshore detention and will push to lift the current humanitarian intake of refugees to 50,000 people a year.
THEY SAID IT: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety), by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary." - H. L. Mencken.
YOU SAID IT: "Six weeks is far too long for an election, particularly for this government. They arrived without a vision or plan, have spent three years gearing up for this election then demand six weeks of our full attention so they can convince us they have been hard at work on our behalf." - Elizabeth.
"Six weeks is too long when you have Morrison on a continuous and relentless campaign for the last three years. Pity he didn't put that effort into actually having Parliament sit." - Paul.
"Albanese won the debate for trying to actually answer the questions. Morrison was the better performer but avoided answering a number of questions, was too negative and had twisted logic for a number of things such as not bringing forward the ICAC legislation." - Rob.
"Coal mining is not the issue. It's coal use. An energy source that can replace coal is what is needed. Stop mining it here and it will just be mined somewhere else with no effect on climate change." - Ross.
"I wholeheartedly support those on the bottom rung of the ladder getting their full pay rise to bring them in line with inflation. I disagree with Albo when he states that it will make the difference between mince and steak. More like the difference between meat and no meat." - Rosemary.
"The six-week election campaign is too long for Scott Morrison - another political misjudgement that is backfiring on him." - Ian.
"If the economy is as strong as the government tells us, we can surely give the lower paid in our nation the same purchasing power they had pre-COVID. Morrison can't have it both ways." - George.
"Morrison whinging about the working poor getting $1 per hour more while he gives the wealthy bigger tax breaks on top of their deductions and perks shows where his heart is." - David.
"Chinese emissions make up over 40 per cent of the world's total compared to our less than two per cent. Given that Premier Xi's direction is to increase domestic coal production by 10 to 15 per cent over the next several years, things aren't going to change!" - Ross.
"I was very taken by Fiona's cartoon yesterday. Insightful and to the point, but I often love the smaller details. Her imagination is always a delight but I'm particularly taken by the Four Horses plus One - lovely subtle interaction between the horses noticed by this horse tragic. Joy in small things. Thank you." - Denise.
"They don't make things like they used to and that includes politicians." - Christine.
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