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Senator Cormann and the Party of boy-men

October 21, 2014


The following article is by David Hardaker is a television producer and a Walkley award winning journalist…


It’s been a week or so of linguistic clangers in Australia, from the Prime Minister’s “shirtfront” threat against Vladimir Putin to the “in-joke” references to “Mussies” and “Abos” by man-of-words Barry Spurr, the (suspended) Poetry Professor at the University of Sydney.

But against this stiff competition, perhaps the most regrettable of all came courtesy of Mathias Cormann.

Memo to Senator Cormann: next time, leave the jokes to the comedians. The term “girlie-man” might have left us laughing when it was used in a US comedy sketch last century but today it’s, well, a little out of step with the times.

English may be the Belgian-born politician’s second language, but Senator Cormann has previously shown a more than adequate vocabulary, especially when it comes to words like “debt, “deficit” and “disaster”, often used all in one phrase.

So why did the Senator choose to use the insult “girlie” to slap Labor leader Bill Shorten around the head for opposing the Government’s budget?

His first excuse – that the term “girlie-man” has acquired a new meaning and no longer links being weak and/or stupid with being female – doesn’t hold up. I’m afraid the idea that somehow “girlie” doesn’t refer to the idea of a girl is a subtle linguistic shift that a lot of people won’t get.

His second excuse – that he was humorously playing on his German accent by adopting the insult first popularised by Saturday Night Live’s Austrian bodybuilder characters Hans and Franz and later adopted by Arnold Schwarzenegger – is too late and too inadequate.

Schwarzenegger’s “girly man” attacks on his political opponents went down badly with many then, so it’s hard to see why anyone would think they would improve with age. And the all-testosterone Terminator turned Governator at least had the defence of self-deprecation: call it a playful boorishness.

Stripped of this context, Senator Cormann’s comments are simply boorish. And it shows that the humourless should never attempt to break out of their box.

Labor’s Penny Wong has already pointed out the obvious hurt conveyed by the comment: “What are we telling our sons and our daughters about being a girl? You’re saying it is somehow less competent, weak,” she told Sky News yesterday.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Christopher Pyne, who can always be relied on to address the politics above all, said simply, “I don’t think it is the most important issue floating past us today.”

So it appears this is a debate that will end as they always do. Critics of Senator Cormann will be told it is “political correctness gone mad”. Move on.

Yet this time, maybe we shouldn’t.

While at best it was a simply ham-fisted attempt at humour, at its worst, the Finance Minister’s comment (and the lack of a slap down from the Prime Minister) underlines again the well-traversed malaise at the heart of the present Government.

Despite years of research, sometimes by leading corporate entities, the nation’s leadership does not believe that women as a species should wield real power in public life.

Apologists, of course, will always point to the influential role of the PM’s chief-of-staff, Peta Credlin, but when it comes to the Cabinet, actions speak the loudest: there is, famously, only one woman at the table.

Smart businesses in Australia recognise an obvious truth: that if you cut out half the gene pool in your hiring and promotion policies, then your business suffers.

This is the commonest of common sense. And you don’t need to be a feminist to realise it: upright and breathing will do.

So why do people who use the rhetoric of the free market then not apply that when it comes to talent? Rather, they practice a form of protectionism based on sex (amongst other things).

The proof is that you use “girl” to denigrate someone – and then say you didn’t really mean it that way.

So forget the girlie-men. What about the “boyie-men” who have their hands on the levers of government power? Is there not a reasonable expectation that the boy-men who purport to lead us might grow up a bit?

Might they not by now recognise the simple truth that ability is not handed out according to your sex (or race or income level, for that matter)?

And this brings us to the final point about Mathias Cormann.

If none of the above applies to him, as he has asserted, and he really is a straight-down-the-line, equal-opportunity-for-all kind of guy, then why would he use words like “girlie-man” that are so capable of causing offence and thus risk alienating half the voting population?

Only a fool of a politician would do that.




16 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom R permalink
    October 21, 2014 9:29 am

    I loved one of his excuses reb

    “I don’t think there’s anything gender-specific here. Not girls, girlies; it’s very different. I hope you are not going to say I am a sexist misogynist.’’

    I don’t know if he is a sexist misogynist (although the crowd he hangs with aint a good look), but it’s undoubtable that he is a fucking idiot.

    Not girls, girlies; it’s very different


  2. Tony permalink
    October 21, 2014 9:42 am

    It’s an outrageous outrage!

  3. Tom R permalink
    October 21, 2014 9:43 am

    The libs cut, hiding their own incompetence? And leaving us blind to reality.

    As recently as March it was insisting the changes had affected the quality of its figures little. Then came August and a literally incredible jump of 121,000 in the number of Australians officially employed, an all-time record. At face value it suggested Australia had created 27 jobs every 10 minutes right around the clock for an entire month. The September number was an even bigger humiliation. If the figure had been presented normally it would have shown an even bigger collapse in employment of 172,000 people, meaning 40 jobs were lost each 10 minutes.


    The Coalition has been missing in action. It cut another $68 million from the ABS in this year’s budget on top of $10 million cut by Labor on the way out, apparently unconcerned about the effect on statistics and its own ability to manage the economy. The head of the ABS bowed out in January and the best part of a year later hasn’t been replaced. His last public statement, recorded in his last annual report said he had barely enough money to “keep the lights on”.

    And the media portrayed this as due to Labors cuts ROFL

  4. Tom R permalink
    October 21, 2014 9:52 am

    It’s an outrageous outrage!

    More like an embarrassing joke

    When are the Kiddies going to be back in charge again, cos I don’t think our international reputation can take much more of a dolts doings, let alone our local economy 😦

  5. Tom R permalink
    October 21, 2014 10:00 am

  6. Tom R permalink
    October 21, 2014 10:01 am

  7. Tom R permalink
    October 21, 2014 10:09 am

    Well said that man

    “A Finance Minister of Australia doesn’t have to sound like a dickhead if he wants to make a point ” Mr O’Connor told Sky News.

    I see the “journalist”, as is their wont, was unable to note difference between cormanns language when compared to O’Connor’s language. Another fail by libtika. Add it to the list.

    A few breaths after swearing on television, the Labor frontbencher then rounded on the Finance Minister for his language.


  8. Tom R permalink
    October 21, 2014 10:48 am

    An example of our “free trade” tough stance

    The federal government is hoping to convince Beijing to reverse course on a plan to introduce tariffs on coal imports, The Australian Financial Review reports.

    Treasurer Joe Hockey will raise the issue with China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei during talks this week, with the negotiations coming as a free-trade deal between the two countries edges closer.

    A government source told the paper that the Coalition was hopeful China would, as part of the free-trade discussions, agree to abolish the tariffs after a year for Australian firms.

    “They could just say they would review it in 12 months,” he told the AFR.

    So, as long as it looks good in writing, it doesn’t have to be worth the paper it is written on ❓

  9. Tom R permalink
    October 21, 2014 11:12 am

    Gonski being abused by the vics?

    A Labor government would reveal exactly how much extra federal and state money each school in Victoria received under the needs-based Gonski funding model.

    The Napthine government has refused to outline the year-by-year funding increases as a result of the Gonski money, prompting accusations federal money is being used to cover annual increases in teacher salaries and student enrolments.

  10. Tom R permalink
    October 21, 2014 1:02 pm

    Looks like yabots been caught out making shit up to big note himself

    Tony Abbott received no official briefing from his department or special envoy suggesting they were confident early acoustic noises detected in the search for the missing flight MH370 were from the flight’s black box.

    In a Senate hearing on Monday night the Greens leader, Christine Milne, asked how the Australian prime minister came to make a statement suggesting the search had been substantially narrowed and questioned whether he had acted recklessly.

  11. Tom R permalink
    October 21, 2014 1:57 pm

    After seeing the sort of “caveats” they are offering up above, a “free trade” deal should be simple, but it definitely won’t be “free”

  12. peter permalink
    October 22, 2014 11:36 pm


  13. eggboxtroll permalink
    October 23, 2014 7:13 am

    I thought he was South African.

  14. Tom R permalink
    October 23, 2014 7:47 am

    yea, but you think watts is credible.

  15. October 23, 2014 8:44 am

    “I thought he was South African”

    So did I at first, because you know, most South Africans are cunts and Cormann suits the mould, but alas I later discovered he is in fact from Belgium.

  16. October 23, 2014 9:47 am

    Con Man is an arrogant contemptuous lying Belgian bore… right at home on the front bench of Tony and the oblivious soon to be oblivion squad…

    When he tries to talk like the Arnie it just make him look like a bigger ass hat…
    He’s not foolin anybody, like Abetz. this fucktard is a NAzi

    Put him and Hokey in a sealed room with a few of those cheap cigars and tell themselves to knock emselves out I say… 🙂

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