By SEAN POWER
Quick, get Alf Stewart. We’ve got a disaster on our hands. The corporate cops are out of control and they’re trying to ban one of the nicest four-letter words in the Australian vocab.
Using the word ‘mate’ at work – according to a senior bureaucratic drongo in New South Wales – is no longer allowed.
Are they fair dinkum? Fair suck of the sav! What’s this nong thinking?
According to reports from ABC, a memo was recently sent to all staff working for Northern NSW Local Health reminding them about their use of “professional language”.
It advised staff that use of the word ‘mate’ could be perceived as “disrespectful, disempowering and non-professional”. And as a result, following a series of complaints, the use of the word between medical staff and patients has been banned.
And – if that wasn’t enough – just in case someone overheard the four letter word in the corridor and got upset, workers are no longer allowed to use the word between themselves either.
I reckon who ever made that decision might have a kangaroo loose in the top paddock. Or are they having a lend of us? It’s enough to make you as mad as a cut snake, I tell ‘ya.
The NSW Health ban on the greatest word in the world has caused such a fuss that the NSW Premier Barry O’Farell has had to intervene. Barry O’Farrell told reporters;
“I get the fact we don’t want public servants providing services to the public to be referring to the public as ‘sweetheart’, ‘darling’, or honey’. But, ‘I have some issues myself around the world ‘mate’ – I think it is part of the Australian vernacular’.
On ya’ Prem! Top bloke.
But it’s not the first time a ban on the word ‘mate’ has hit the headlines.
In 2005, some of the head honchoes at Parliament House tried to ban the famous phrase too.
The whole stink kicked off after a security guard called a passing politician the big M word, and then the pissed-off polly complained. Other guards were then ordered to be more ‘professional’.
Cue a giant blue.
Former Prime Minister John Howard even got involved, telling reporters the ‘mate’ ban was absurd:
“These things are all a matter of context, and that’s why it’s impractical and absurd to try and ban something”. “People will ring me up and I might start off saying ‘yes sir’ as a matter of courtesy, which I normally do, and then we lapse into it, we might say ‘mate’.”
True that. And Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek said:
Common sense prevailed, and the ban was quickly reversed. It’s just a shame the authorities in NSW Health haven’t seen the light here.
Between you, me and the gatepost, I understand that there might be some circumstances where a more formal phrase could be more appropriate. But why does that mean the word should be banned, so that it can’t be used AT ALL?