#auspol: a glossary

Head notes

Where I refer to political parties, I also mean the Coalition, which is an alliance of several parties de jure but functions as a single party de facto. This is to avoid having to use a term like “blocs” or “groups” to refer to the class of Australian political parties, when the Coalition is the only ‘party’ which isn’t a single party.


2GB. A radio station owned by Nine, broadcasting in the Sydney area on 873 kHz AM.

#80aDay. A hashtag campaign initiated by the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union and associated with the AUWU and the Antipoverty Centre. Refers to the political demand that all income support payments should be raised to a rate equivalent to $80/day.

ABC. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia’s public broadcaster. Closely equivalent to the UK’s British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC); loosely equivalent to the US’ Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR).

ACT. The Australian Capital Territory. A Territory enclaved within New South Wales where the national capital, Canberra, is located. Analogous to Washington D.C., with the difference that the ACT is represented in Parliament.

ACTU. The Australian Council of Trade Unions, the largest trade union peak body in Australia. Equivalent to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL—CIO) or the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC).

AEC. The Australian Electoral Commission, which organises, conducts and supervises Australian federal elections, by-elections and referendums.

AFL. Australian rules football. Played by two teams of 18 players each, using a prolate spheroid football similar to a rugby ball. Originally inspired by English public school football before that tradition branched into rugby football and “soccer” (association football).

AFLW. Australian Football League Women’s, the semi-professional Australian rules football league for female players.

Dan Andrews. See Daniel Andrews.

Daniel Andrews. Australian Labor Party politician. MLA for Mulgrave, Victoria, since 20 November 2002. Leader of the Australian Labor Party (Victorian Branch) since 3 December 2010. Premier of Victoria since 4 December 2014.

ALP. The Australian Labor Party.

Antipoverty Centre. @antipovertycent on Twitter.

#auspol. Hashtag. Syllabic abbreviation — Australian politics.

Australian Labor Party. Australia’s primary liberal party. Centre-left. Socially liberal. Closely equivalent to the US Democratic Party. Functionally equivalent to the Starmerite wing of the UK Labour Party; Momentum voters would be more likely to vote Greens.

Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union. A union representing unemployed, underemployed and unwaged workers. @AusUnemployment on Twitter.

The AUWU’s name also serves as a metonym for the constellation of organised and unorganised groups left of liberalism.

AUWU. See Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union.

Blak. An adjective denoting Indigenous Australian status.

Boandik. An archaic orthography for Bungandidj.

Boonwurrung. An Australian Aboriginal people, part of the Kulin nation, whose territory includes part of what is now the city and suburbs of Melbourne.

#BTPM. “Break the poverty machine.” A hashtag campaign initiated by the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union and associated with the AUWU and the Antipoverty Centre.

Bungandidj. An Aboriginal Australian people in southeastern South Australia and western Victoria, whose traditional land stretches about 30 km inland from the mouth of the Glenelg River at Nelson, Victoria.

Bunnings. A household hardware chain. Analogous to the US’ Home Depot.

Cashless Debit Card. A Centrelink-affiliated program in which welfare recipients are issued a debit card onto which 80% of their welfare income is quarantined; they also lose control over bill payments, which are transferred to automatic by Centrelink. The card

  • is privately managed by Indue Pty Ltd
  • does not allow the user to gamble, purchase alcohol, or withdraw cash
  • only allows users of the card to buy products at sellers who can take Visa or MasterCard and who are specifically approved

Centrelink. Services Australia’s Centrelink Master Program. The entity administering Australia’s social security income support programs. Corresponds to the US Social Security Administration or the UK Department of Work and Pensions.

Coalition. Australia’s primary conservative bloc. Simply the Coalition — there has never been another Coalition that was historically important, and there is unlikely to be another one.

The Coalition has two primary member parties:

  • the Liberal Party of Australia
  • the National Party of Australia

There are also several other parties which are related to the Liberals and Nationals but other than by being state divisions of one party, and/or which do not inherit the Liberal—National Coalition relationship:

  • The Country Liberals (Northern Territory) is a merger of the formerly independent NT Liberals and Territory Country Party (the NT branch of the Country Party, the federal organisation which would later become the National Party). While they sit as one unified party in the NT Legislative Assembly, federal Country Liberal legislators caucus with one party or the other; MPs typically caucus with the Liberals and Senators with the Nationals.
  • The Liberal National Party of Queensland is a merger of the formerly independent Queensland Liberals and Queensland Nationals. While they sit as one unified party in the Queensland Parliament, federal LNP legislators caucus with either the Liberals or the Nationals.
  • The National Party of Australia (S.A.) is the South Australian state affiliate of the National Party, but is independent and not part of the Coalition.
  • The National Party of Australia (WA) is the Western Australian state affiliate of the National Party, but is independent and not part of the Coalition.
  • The Tasmanian Nationals exist organisationally as an affiliate of the National Party of Australia, but have no representation anywhere, are not registered with any electoral commission, and are effectively in abeyance.

Coles. Formally, Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd. A supermarket, retail and consumer services chain. Has around 27% market share as of 2020 (Roy Morgan, 2020).

CPRS. The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. The Rudd government’s proposed emissions trading scheme for greenhouse gases.

The CPRS has since formed a rhetorical cudgel for Labor supporters to beat Greens voters with. While, like the “tree Tory” argument, this line of attack has little basis in fact, it persists through strength of messaging and weight of numbers.

Crikey. An electronic magazine launched in 2000.

Dan. At date, if not otherwise specified, typically Daniel Andrews.

Dan stans. A colloquial pejorative label for uncritical admirers of Premier Daniel Andrews of Victoria. Emerged in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dog the boys. A colloquial expression meaning “betray one’s male friends.” Generally used lightheartedly.

💧 (“droplet emoji”). Used in display names, etc., to indicate droplet Twitter affiliation.

Droplet Twitter. Known by a variety of other nicknames (“droplet Twitter,” “teardrop Twitter,” “drips”). An informal grouping of Twitter users. The grouping was officially initiated in April 2019, when Simon Holmes à Court posted a Tweet which read:

i’m putting a [droplet emoji] before my twitter name until the government of the day commits to a *proper* inquiry into #watergate.

care to join me #auspol?

Holmes à Court (2019)

Notionally, the grouping is unified by a political demand for an investigation into WaterGate. However, in practice, droplet Twitter affiliation is simply a general signifier of liberalism and centrism.

Gadigal. An Aboriginal Australian people whose traditional lands roughly correspond to the Eastern suburbs and Inner West of Sydney, New South Wales, including the Sydney central business district and Sydney Cove.

Gamilaraay. An Aboriginal Australian people whose traditional lands are roughly delineated to the south and east by Singleton, New South Wales; to the west by the Warrumbungle Mountains; and to the north and west by Nindigully, Queensland.

GetUp!. A progressive political organisation. Functionally similar to the US’ Our Revolution, but with somewhat greater cultural stature. UK equivalent unclear.

Greens. The Australian Greens. Social-democratic. Against animal cruelty, against corruption, environmentalist, pro-choice, pro-decriminalisation-of-drugs, pro-euthanasia, pro-Green New Deal, pro-legalisation-of-marijuana, pro-LGBTIQ+, pro-public education, pro-universal healthcare, Functionally equivalent to the US “Squad” or UK Momentum.

#HomeToBilo. A hashtag campaign calling for the Murugappan family (Nadesalingam “Nades,” Kokilapathmapriya “Priya,” and their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa), all of whom are Tamil refugees, to be freed from Australian immigration detention and returned to their previous residence in Biloela, Queensland.

IGA. Independent Grocers of Australia, a local division of the US Independent Grocers’ Alliance (IGA, Inc.).

JobKeeper. A limited-duration wage subsidy run by the Federal Government during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Analogous to the US’ Paycheck Protection Program.

JobSeeker. The JobSeeker Payment, an income support payment paid by Centrelink to eligible Australians and permanent residents aged 22 to 64. Corresponds to the UK Jobseeker’s Allowance; no direct US equivalent.

Journo. A colloquial Australian English noun meaning “journalist.” Now fairly international thanks to Twitter.

Kevin ’07. A nickname for former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, after his campaign slogan at the 2007 federal election at which he first won that office.

Kulin. An Aboriginal alliance whose collective traditional territory is located in Victoria, extending around Port Phillip and the Western Port, up into the Great Dividing Range and the Loddon and Goulburn River valleys.

Labor Right. A faction within the Australian Labor Party. Functionally equivalent to the US Blue Dogs; similar to the UK’s New Labour but more openly right-wing.

League. When used as a mass noun, indicates rugby league football.

Libs. Short for “Liberals,” and typically specifically for the Liberal Party of Australia, who are conservative. May be used to denote small-l liberalism, but typically only in colloquial words and phrases loaned from other English dialects, such as “own the libs.”

Maccas. Colloquial Australian English short name for McDonald’s restaurants.

MEAA. The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance. The trade union and professional organisation covering the media, entertainment, sports and arts industries.

MFW. Mad Fucking Witches. @MFWitches on Twitter.

MP. Member of Parliament. Most commonly refers to a legislator sitting in the lower house of a legislature, i.e., a federal Member of Parliament (MP), or a state Member of a Legislative Assembly (MLA) or equivalent.

NDIA. The National Disability Insurance Agency.

New South Wales. Abbreviated NSW. Australia’s most populous state, located along the southern part of the east coast, south of Queensland, north of Victoria. The capital is Sydney.

Newstart. The name, between 1 July 1991 and 20 March 2020, of what is now called JobSeeker Payment.

OAM. Medal of the Order of Australia. The third-highest national civilian honour, approximately equal to a UK MBE.

Officeworks. A chain of office supplies stores owned and operated by Wesfarmers Ltd. Directly equivalent to US FedEx Office (FKA Kinko’s).

One Nation. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, a political party. Semi-openly fascist; Islamophobic, populist, xenophobic, ultranationalist. Equivalent to the US House Freedom Caucus or the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

One Nation also likes to position itself as a shadow to the Greens. This is slightly undermined by the fact that while the Greens regularly act as a check on the right-wing policies of “their” major party, the ALP, One Nation consistently votes with the Coalition.

Opposition. The largest of the parties politically opposed to the Government. During a Coalition government, Labor is typically the Opposition; during a Labor government, the Coalition as a whole is the Opposition.

PNG. Papua New Guinea.

@PRGuy17. A Twitter account created in March 2020. Pro-Labor; anti-Coalition; passive-aggressively anti-Greens (@PRGuy, “Okay so,” 2021; @PRGuy, “I don’t know,” 2021). Supporter of the Andrews Labor government of Victoria specifically (@PRGuy17, “Yep!,” 2021).

As of March 2021, it appeared that the account was being operated by Deakin University academic Dr Muneera Bano, among others (@k_morrissey, 2021).

probbo. Little-used Australian slang literally meaning “problematic,” but always connoting irony.

RAC. Refugee Action Coalition.

🐀 (“rat emoji”). Used in display names, etc., to indicate affiliation with sewer rats.

SAlt. Socialist Alternative. A Trotskyist organisation affiliated with the Reunified Fourth International.

Scotty. When not otherwise qualified, usually a pejorative nickname for Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia. Derived from the “Scotty from x” snowclone; gave rise to the “Scotty the x” snowclone.

Scotty from Marketing. A popular characterisation of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a former marketing executive. Evokes poorly faked bonhomie and the generally poor reputation of marketing personnel in the Australian workplace, and associates those concepts with Morrison, a much-disliked politician generally seen as manipulative and inept.

Scotty from x. A political snowclone in which the subject is Prime Minister Scott Morrison. A generalisation of “Scotty from Marketing.”

Sewer rats. An informal grouping of Twitter users notionally unified by an opposition to misogyny, sexual violence, and the “boys’ club” mentality said to typify the Australian Parliament.

The term originated in the early 2021 media storm surrounding rape allegations against Liberal MP Christian Porter, then Attorney-General of Australia. While promoting an Australian Financial Review article that was sympathetic to Porter, conservative journalist Chris Uhlmann opened a Tweet with:

Top of the morning sewer rats. Why not waste a lazy day in hysterics over this? […]

Uhlmann (2021)

While in practice sewer rat affiliation has retained somewhat more of its original meaning than droplet Twitter affiliation, it similarly tends to be largely a signifier for liberal and centrist political orientation.

Shadow minister (for x). The MP or Senator designated to serve as minister for x portfolio, should their party win government. Typically, only the two major parties have shadow ministers; the other parties have spokespeople, who are exactly the same except for not being in one of the two largest parties.

The Shot. A semi-serious opinion journalism outlet founded by The Chaser’s team (counterintuitively but obviously, The Chaser came first). @shot_au on Twitter.

Sky News Australia. A television channel available Australia-wide on cable and satellite, and on free-to-air TV in regional and non-metropolitan areas. Corresponds to the US’ Fox News Channel or the UK’s GB News.

Small-l liberalism. Liberalism as conventionally understood. The “small l” distinguishes it from the philosophy of the Liberal Party of Australia, who are conservative.

Sports rorts. TBA.

#StrandedAussies. TBA.

Norman Swan. Born 1953 in Scotland. A physician, journalist and broadcaster. His son is Jonathan Swan, a journalist who while working for Axios conducted a fairly blunt and contentious interview with US President Donald Trump.

McGowan & Cantor (2020): Axios journalist Jonathan Swan

Sydney Morning Herald. TBA.

Ten. TBA.

TikTok guy. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, web comedian Jon-Bernard Kairouz.

Tory. A colloquial pejorative meaning “conservative,” typically indicating specifically the Liberal Party of Australia. Lifted from the British Tories, the political faction which later became the modern Conservative Party.

Tradie. A tradesperson.

Treasurer. TBA.

Tree Tory. A colloquial pejorative directed at the Australian Greens, typically by supporters of the Australian Labor Party, suggesting they are functionally conservatives whose concern for the environment is a form of unserious virtue signalling.

The underlying thesis has no basis in fact. Taxonomically, the Greens’ unambiguous social-democratic stance places them to Labor’s left by any internationally accepted rubric. Statistically, in contests where the other candidate is a Liberal but their own candidate isn’t likely to be one of the top two, Greens voters are slightly more likely to favour Labor candidates than Labor candidates are to favour Greens candidates, suggesting a stronger opposition to conservatism by the Greens than by Labor.

Nonetheless, due to Labor’s established platform access and its increasingly strong focus on opposing the Greens rather than the Liberals, the term remains in popular use.

Turrbal. An Aboriginal Australian people in southeast Queensland whose traditional land is approximately delimited to the north by the North Pine River, to the south by the Logan River, and inland at the locality of Moggill. The city of Brisbane is on Turrbal land.

Victoria. Australia’s second most populous state, located in the southeastern corner of the mainland. The capital is Melbourne.

Woolies. Colloquialism for Woolworths Supermarkets. A supermarket and grocery store chain. Roughly 33% market share as of 2019 (Roy Morgan, 2020).

Work for the dole. A compulsory workfare program which all JobSeeker Payment recipients are forced onto after a certain duration of unemployment. Equivalent to the UK’s workfare scheme; no direct US equivalent.

Youth Allowance. An income support payment available to unemployed young people aged 16 to 21, or 18 to 24 under certain circumstances.


Holmes à Court, S.A. [@simonahac]. (2019, April 21). i’m putting a 💧 before my twitter name […] [Tweet]. Twitter.

@k_morrissey (2021, March 12). OK, yeah, this is fucking deranged. … [thread]. Twitter.

McGowan, M., & Cantor, M. (2020, August 5). Explain it to me quickly: Who is Jonathan Swan, the reporter who grilled Trump? And what do kangaroos have to do with it?. The Guardian.

@PRGuy17 (2021, January 29). Okay so apparently a few are losing their heads … [Tweet]. Twitter.

@PRGuy17 (2021, January 30). I don’t know what would excite me more … [Tweet]. Twitter.

@PRGuy17 (2021, July 27). Yep! Some Labor and Liberal states doing a stellar job in Australia, … [thread]. Twitter.

Roy Morgan (2020, March 24). Looking beyond the panic-buying, Australia’s big supermarket story is Aldi’s growing market share (Finding No. 8336). RoyMorgan.com.

Uhlmann, C. [@CUhlmann]. (2021, March 5). Top of the morning sewer rats […] [Tweet]. Twitter.

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