The Art of the Australian Insult

Racist and backwards
May 26, 2009, 3:45 pm
Filed under: Business, National insults | Tags: , ,

“I would say that Australia definitely is different [from] the US. In many ways it was like stepping back in time.”

Former Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo’s parting shot to the country that never liked him, in an interview with the BBC. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s response to Trujillo’s departure was one word: “Adios”. Rudd has now been accused of being racist in referring mockingly to Trujillo’s Mexican ancestry.

The cardboard king
April 30, 2009, 3:25 pm
Filed under: Business | Tags: ,

The death of Australia’s so-called “Cardboard king”, Richard Pratt, has led to a variety of responses, both from commentators and members of the public. Opinion seems to be divided into two camps, those who think Pratt was an out-and-out thief, and those who feel that criticism directed at him is emblematic of Australia’s tall poppy syndrome in action.

“As Australians we know it is not appropriate to be upset by white-collar crime. It is simply the mark of a keen entrepreneurial mind, a little over-eager in the pursuit, by any means, of the wealth that is the sacred right of any true-blue Aussie,” snorts Moya Connors of Valla Beach.

Elizabeth Goodsall of Wahroonga argues:

“Can the rags of Richard Pratt’s tax-deductible philanthropy really cover the nakedness of his dishonesty? A self-confessed thief, he greatly enriched himself by stealing from every person in Australia. His status as a Companion in the Order of Australia should never be restored.”

Peter Wertheim, on the other hand, defends Pratt, arguing, “What a miserable lot some Herald readers are (Letters, April 30). They excoriate the late Richard Pratt for “ripping off the public over an extended period” and liken him to “a common criminal who made money by snatching old ladies’ handbags”. This is the tall poppy syndrome at its most graceless.”

A boot up the ring-pull
April 2, 2009, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Business, Celebrities | Tags: ,

“It’s possible Kerry Armstrong’s CV won’t be highlighting her brief stint as a shill for Coca-Cola, now that the soft drink giant has been given a boot up the ring-pull for an ad featuring the actress.

With the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission grumpily ordering Coke to retract the ad, which had Armo (“as a mum”) explaining that Coke didn’t make you fat, rot your teeth or contain enough caffeine to make an elephant vibrate, Strewth hopes Kez is gently encouraged to apologise for the line: “My boys now call me Mum the myth-buster”, and for leaving the biggest question unaddressed: whether Coke is any good for cleaning the silverware.”

Strewth reflects on a disastrous campaign by Coca-Cola to persuade mothers that Coke really isn’t so bad for you.

The tomb of the unknown investor
April 2, 2009, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Business | Tags: ,

“Kevin Rudd laid a wreath at the memorial for the unknown victim, and we have had memorials to unknown soldiers for some time.

Is it time we created a memorial to the unknown investor while we can still afford it?”

Bob Liddelow of Avalon, letter to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Don’t call me darl
March 31, 2009, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Business, Everyday Insults

Sydney Morning Herald reader Robyn Curtin is sick and tired of shop assistants and cashiers calling her “darl”:

While it is conceivable there is a substitute for darl, it is inconceivable that a majority of women regard such terms of endearment, particularly to customers, as a standard requirement. There may be many customers who find darl affable, while others find it condescending. For me it has a grating ring to it – call it tacky, whatever. The true meaning of darling, from which darl has hatched, is an affectionate form of address to a loved one. These people don’t love me; they just want my business.”

Knickers in a knot over China
March 27, 2009, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Business, International relations, Politicians

“If the Government decides to issue Bonds, will they be made in China?”

Regular wit Michael Stanbridge, Bonnet Bay, NSW,, writes to The Australian in the midst of consternation after Kevin Rudd’s unpublicised meeting with China’s propaganda minister.

March 26, 2009, 12:46 am
Filed under: Business

“Everyday I scan the paper looking for Sue Morphet’s announcement that she is going to outsource her job to China and save Pacific Brands a fortune.”

Michael Stanbridge, Bonnet Bay, NSW, letter to The Australian.

Battle on the Corso
March 13, 2009, 8:46 am
Filed under: Business

“An atmosphere of hostility has been created on the Corso. It’s affecting other shops nearby, it makes diners feel uncomfortable and it’s quite simply not the kind of behavior we want on the Corso.”

Manly Council deputy general manager Stephen Clements, commenting on the ongoing feud between two Corso restaurants. Passing members of the published are being harassed and in January, a brawl took place between rival staff as horrified diners looked on.

Maybe we should pay peanuts
March 1, 2009, 6:22 am
Filed under: Business

Departing CEO of Telstra, Sol Trujillo, does not have many fans, judging by some of the responses to the news of his $11.1 million payout, in both the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian:

“On Sol Trujillo’s watch I have received a written apology from Telstra for rudeness from his employees, another apology for stuffing up the renewal of priority assistance and a credit of $350 on my last bill to shut me up on another complaint I had to take to the Ombudsman.

Anecdotal evidence has it that $350 is the going rate for such hush money. For this he receives millions?”

Frank Catt South West Rocks

“Your report states that Sol Trujillo “earned” more than $33 million in cash and $5.6 million in shares. He may have been paid that; there is no way he could have earned it.”

Norman Emslie Dapto

“We should have paid peanuts.”

Tony Horan Strathfield

“ADIOS amigo, with our thanks for highlighting yet again the urgent need for action to be taken on exorbitant management remuneration. I know that your saddlebags on the burro will be bulging but can you throw the Telstra chairman across your lap as you disappear over the horizon?”
Mike Yalden
Kiama, NSW

SOL Trujillo’s legacy to Australia: 10,000 less jobs and consequently $500 million less going into the economy every year, $17.2 billion wiped off Telstra’s share value, $40 million going back to the US with the departing leader. Chief executives are committing fraud on the workers (and the people) of this country on a grand scale.”
Mark Pearce
Richmond, NSW

This reader of The Australian made a cogent observation:

“What delightful symmetry: during Sol Trujillo’s reign, Telstra’s market capitalisation has declined by 27 per cent while his remuneration has risen by 54 per cent.”
Michael D. Kellock
Foster, Vic

This writer is concerned about Trujillo’s impact on the Australian national self:

WHEN will company leaders realise that Australians have an intense dislike of chief executives grabbing millions on their way out? There is no justification for it, it is immoral, unethical, and since chief executives’ and directors’ fees are “self granted”, it is bordering on theft. We no longer want or need “bright sparks” from overseas who come for a few years, create havoc, often run the business down and then exit with a multi-million-dollar good-bye package.

It is greed and selfishness on a grand scale, with no relation to the concept of an “honest pay for an honest day”, and is totally against our underlying culture of mateship.”

D. Sarre
Beaumont, SA

February 27, 2009, 6:53 am
Filed under: Business

“I think Australians want to see a fair system for all and I think they are rightly sickened when they see some executives walk away with large payments and many workers walk away with virtually nothing.”

Wayne Swan, who says that Government is considering caps on executive pay.