Do you hear that? It’s the sound of the ground slowly swelling, a whispering noise that will soon turn to a roar: ENOUGH WITH THE CLICHES, KEV. You are not a sports coach.

Crikey has, on and off, documented the water torture that is Kevin Rudd on a phrase repetition bender. The more we listen, the more examples we hear. Fork in the road, cold showers, in due season, etc.

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.

Rudd also likes to blind us with his elegant numbering system. Here he is on the Today Show on 25 January this year. Brain meltingly, none of it adds up:

Three things. Firstly, we’re got to restrain what’s called public demand. That means producing a very substantial Budget surplus which is why I gave a speech on Monday saying that come the Budget, our target – subject to global economic conditions – is to produce a Budget surplus of 1.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product. That’s to try and take some of the pressure off the Reserve Bank.

Two other things. Firstly, to outline our strategy for dealing with the skills crisis because that also helps. The Reserve Bank has been issuing warnings on this for years and years and years – twenty (warnings), in fact. And they’ve been ignored in the past. We need to act on that, and that’s why we’re, for example, moving to establish Skills Australia and to bring on new apprenticeships quickly.

Thirdly, on infrastructure bottlenecks…

Lately, we’ve noticed Rudd’s excessive use of the intro “when it comes to…” On the binge drinking issue, he told us, “I think we’ve got a real problem in this country when it comes to binge drinking.” 

But it can be applied to any issue. Crikey has taken six Rudd speeches/interviews at random, assessing them for when it comes to content, complete with a WiC counter.

  • Iraq: Sunday Sunrise, 4 April, 2004

    Example: When it comes to the overwhelming needs of the Iraqi people, they also extend to humanitarian assistance and economic reconstruction.

    WiC COUNT: 2

  • Aviation Influenza Doorstop: 21 September, 2005

    Example: When it comes to the other matters that we’ve suggested, the fourth is this. A regional compensation fund for the proper compensation of chicken farmers.

    WiC COUNT: 7

  • Resignation of Kelvin Thomson Doorstop: 9 March, 2007

    Example: Well, the question here is this: that when it comes to having, as the alternative Attorney-General and alternative first law officer of the Commonwealth having provided a letter of this nature, it is not acceptable. It is unacceptable and that’s why Mr Thomson has resigned.

    WiC COUNT: 5

  • IR issues: 7:30 Report, 30 April, 2007 

    Example: Australians … also believe that you’ve got to have a fair go for working people and part and parcel of that is to have a reasonable independent umpire who can actually ensure that the laws of the system are being upheld, that when it comes to enterprise agreements, for example, that basic minimum conditions are being upheld as well, as opposed to Mr Howard’s model, which at the end of the day is the law of the jungle.

    WiC COUNT: 10 (including past tense version, “when it came”). Note also the use of abundant hackneyed phrases: “part and parcel”, “at the end of the day”, “law of the jungle”.

  • Doorstop interview with Frank Lowy: 28 February, 2008

    Example: So to bring soccer up to the level of some of the other codes, there has to be in this an additional injection of funds. So we doubled the previous allocation of funding over the next four years from 16 million to 32 million. Now when it comes to this particular event, then we will take this step by step in partnership with the Football Federation of Australia and in close cooperation with state and territory governments.

    WiC COUNT: 2

  • Binge drinking press conference: 10 March, 2008

    Example: One is alcohol advertising. That of course is subject to some consideration internally at the moment. That will take some time to work through. There is also I believe, a Parliamentary report which is being prepared on aspects of that. Secondly, proper labelling. And thirdly, the adequacy of existing State and Territory laws when it comes to dispensing alcohol to minors, or those suffering from intense intoxication.

    WiC COUNT: 6