Steven Marshall south australia
Premier of South Australia Steven Marshall (Image: AAP/David Mariuz)

We keep asking, and you keep delivering. Behold, volume six of Crikey’s Spiv-tionary, a compendium of the shonky and evasive language our public discourse has been forced to develop.

Administrative errors: What’s that — the press has revealed you’ve been using tens of thousands of dollars worth of publics money in a distinctly iffy way? Well, no one actually did anything wrong, you see, it was merely an administrative error. As a reader points out in reference to the SA Liberal Party’s travel expenses scandal from earlier this year (yep, we’d forgotten about it too): “If I get tens of thousands of dollars from Centrelink by making false statements, I doubt that Centrelink would pass this off as just a minor ‘administrative error’.”

Example, via SA Premier Steven Marshall: “There have been some administrative errors and I’ve made it clear to my team they need to make it clear what those administrative errors were and rectify them as quickly as possible.”

An abundance of caution: If you’ve made an “administrative error”, and want the whole thing to go away without admitting wrongdoing, there’s a simple solution. Make amends — not because you did anything wrong, but out of “an abundance of caution”.

Example, this time courtesy of Marshall’s colleague SA Transport Minister Stephan Knoll: “I do incur expenses; I do comply with the guidelines, but out of an abundance of caution, I am repaying the money to make sure that this issue is beyond doubt.”

With all due respect: This throat-clearer can preface any non-answer, and is a neat example of a statement that means the direct opposite of what it supposedly conveys. As a reader translates for us: “I am a really important person and I have no need to acknowledge your question or statement”. And just as with “this isn’t the time”, make sure you put a little sauce on it for extra effect.

Example: “With all due respect, I’ve answered every question I’ve been asked over the past couple of days, I have been very open about issues that are very uncomfortable to me, issues I don’t talk about.” Thanks Gladys.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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