Scott Morrison might not be able to stop saying ‘fair dinkum’, but research actually shows that his colleagues are far more guilty of it. Fair dinkum.



The etymology of the phrase ‘fair dinkum’ is one of continental dispute. According to Melvyn Bragg, author of The Adventure of English, the phrase originated in the Midlands of England, defining that feeling of a fair day’s work for a fair compensation of.

So far, so Australian.

An alternate theory believes that it was born in the Australian goldfields, apparently originated by the Chinese, and “din-gum” apparently (loosely) translates as “good gold”, the phrase was a response to the locals asking them if they’re finding a fair amount of gold. Which is also Australian, the bastardisation of Chinese culture, whilst simultaneously fearing that they were here exclusively to steal our wealth.

Every Australian citizen is acutely aware of the term, and acutely aware that no-one ever uses it. However, this ringing endorsement of the obvious doesn’t reach Canberra, as the corridors of power are clearly soundproofed, as a thousand blossoms of antiquated slang bloom there, as those we elect to lead fire it from the hip. Clearly, our example of leadership is the teethless, educationless creek panner, with racism in his eye and shit underneath his fingernails.

But this isn’t about us, it’s about them. Obviously, this piece is inspired by Scott Morrison, who is wont to appear with thumbs up and hat in tow, offering warm platitudes to whoever finds themselves stuck in his orbit. Pulling a vague example out of the ether, here Morrison congratulates the mother of our greatest surfer, the one who punched a shark in the mouth.



Ironically, if it wasn’t an Australian playing the character, we would have decked him, as it feels like an off-colour pisstake. It’s akin to the Italian man with the crank organ, moustache and dancing monkey. It’s the Brit in the pinstripe suit, bowler hat and extreme dental trauma. It’s the trailer park American, with a shotgun in one hand, and tit of the cousin in the other. It bristles, because we can’t stand the characterisation, because that’s not us. We no longer shrimp our barbies, Scott. We never did.

Although, offering a shout out to someone’s mum is top drongo ‘straya. Ya mum, hahaha.

But, I’m getting distracted. While Morrison has slapped a kangaroo label on this bogan charm of enchantment and called it Fair Dinkum Politics (FDP), he’s not the author of it. The thumb might be his own twist on it, but it has long stood before Morrison stood in bordies on the sand. Research totted by the superb chart man Ketan Joshi collated the usage of the term by our elected officials from February 2005 to October 2018, and the results are extremely interesting.



Ketan Joshi – Open Australia


In first place is the Dick Dastardly of Auspol, the man the left loves to hate, Tony Abbott. Polling a pack-leading 45 utterings, he’s the most fair dinkum of all the fair dinkumerers who ever dinkumed. Fair? Which is no real knock on the man explicitly, he’s just made for headlines. He wants to help us out, which is probably why he made his own apology for the European Invasion, not to the collected press journalists, or fellow politicians who nod in unison, and clap because they feel they have to, he said it to directly to those who felt it.



Fair. Dinkum.

But the concept of FDP is not the possession of the LNP. In fact, Labor leads the house in whistling this nonsense tune. Scoring 480-304, the stamp of the ALP is clear on its hindquarters. The chief utterer is Anthony ‘Albo’ Albanese (33), but considering that he shortened his name upon entering politics, substituting the Australian vowel for the Italian one, fair enough.

The data does present the ALP with an opportunity. Considering that Bill Shorten sits low on the fair dinkum index (15), and is suffering from a systemic lack of personality, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mild Bill makes it a focal election point to reclaim the phrase as a rigid point of pride. It’d be easy to market. Fair Dinkum’s coming home, it’s coming home.

Shorten may be leading Morrison by three dinkums, but ScoMo is closing fast. In fact, Morrison has already surpassed Malcolm Turnbull on the index. Give the people what they want. A political debate where both parties attempt to shoehorn the phrase into as many points as possible. It’d be a tattooed arms race. Southern Cross ink for all, fair dinkum.

Now, not picking on anyone in particular here, because you’re all at fault, but the usage of fair dinkum by our elected officials makes no sense on a root level. We might slowly be becoming more partisan, but by default and by assumption, we’re a nation of swing voters, and we’re fundamentally a nation that believes politicians are not to be trusted and certainly aren’t fair dinkum.

Glancing at the data, it becomes obvious that there’s a name missing. According to Ketan’s calculations, Peter Dutton has never uttered the fabled words. Not once. Say what you want about him (and you should), but he’s nothing if not honest.



Fair dinkum.






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