Jane Nethercote in today's crikey.com.au begs the Prime Minister to ditch his more ubiquitous catchphrases, including the most egregious one of all:
'As for "working families", we're not even going to attempt to tally how many times they've been wheeled out since the ALP took power. Suffice to say that the odd reference to "bludging loners" would be welcomed.'
Indeed. Or possibly 'dysfunctional families', as in 'This family isn't working.'
As I said at the time to my sceptical, erm, family, I was lukewarm last year about Rudd because as a feminist I mistrusted his Christianity and its likely effects, including this obsession with nuclear families to the exclusion of everybody else, and (as has reportedly come to pass) the trading-off of bits and pieces of policy for support with various "faith-based" lobby groups. But I've come around to him since he won he election and hit the ground running, and some of the footage and phtotos on Sorry Day in particular showed me a side of him I'd not suspected was there.
'Working families', on the other hand, have got to go. Rudd was being mocked, mercilessly and quite properly, for this and other catchphrases before he even won the election. Is he not listening, or is this mantra-like repetition something to do with staying on-message even after you've won, and even after it's been pointed out by a number of people that it was a particularly meaningless phrase to begin with? Every time I hear Rudd (or Gillard, whom I know knows better) say 'working families', I get a vivid mental picture of young Oscar being kept on 200 calories a day so he'll stay small enough to fit up the chimneys, while little Tay-lah, suspiciously red of mouth and black of eyelash, does the round of the dodgy photographers with Mummy.
As a six-days-a-week-of-merciless-slogging childless divorcee with one Aged Parent, one only slightly less aged step-parent, two sisters, two unofficial godchildren, two cats, three step-siblings and nine step-nieces and nephews, which while making for a full and interesting life probably doesn't really constitute a 'family' in the politically expedient definition of that word, I would like to express my irritation at being so constantly left out of the Prime Minister's rhetoric, as, presumably, of his consideration. I think it might be time for Kev to face the fact that solo living is coming very close to being the norm. If this trend continues, the majority of voters in future will not be in 'working families' at all, and if he keeps implying that they're all he's interested in and the rest of us can go to buggery, he might find sooner than he expected that the Lodge has a revolving door.