In their illiberal pursuit of health labelling on the front of food packets, Health Department bureaucrats claim the support of stakeholders. And who might they be? The usual suspects:
Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance;
Australian Medical Association;
Obesity Policy Coalition;
Public Health Association of Australia.
These are not stakeholders. They are activists. Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton for example, is already pushing for front of packet health labelling to be made mandatory.
Encouragingly, however, use of the word ‘stakeholder’ may be on the way out.
The weasel word’s usage in federal parliamentary committee hearings fell sharply in 2013 for the second year running to a level not seen since the Howard government.
Semantic frequency in parliamentary committees is leading-edge indicator of the infiltration of bureaucratese into the English language.
“Stakeholder” as a word to describe an interested party was introduced to federal parliament in November 1992 by the then primary industries minister Simon Crean during his second reading speech on the Natural Resources Management Bill.
Since then it has appeared almost 5000 times in Hansard including more than 3200 mentions in committee proceedings.
Its use reached its peak in 2011 when it was mentioned 755 times in parliamentary proceedings, 510 of those being in committees.
Its popularity waned in 2012 and fell again in 2013 when it appeared 293 times, the lowest level since 2007, the final parliamentary year of the Howard government.
Its usage has been heaviest under Labor governments. During the period of the Rudd and Gillard governments it made more than 450 appearances a year on average, compared to around 220 under Coalition governments.