A stake through the heart of the English language

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;

CHOICE;

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.

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 10.47.23 am

“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.

 

 

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41 Responses to A stake through the heart of the English language

  1. Milton von Smith

    These are not stakeholders. They are activists.

    A more appropriate terminology would be rent seekers

  2. .

    These people have no claim, moral or otherwise, on policy or outcomes.

    The weasel words here make me sympathetic to Hans Herman Hoppe:

    In a democracy, on the other hand, anyone can covet anybody else’s property and act according to his desire—the only precondition being that he can gain access to the corridors of power. Thus, under democratic conditions, everybody becomes a potential threat.

  3. Bruce of Newcastle

    I prefer the alternate meaning:

    stakeholder /ˈsteɪkhəʊldə/ n. 3. A person who helps destroy parasitic bloodsuckers.

    Would be nice if the term would be used more often in this way.

  4. Nathan Essex

    Van Helsing. Buffy. The only stakeholders worth hearing about.

  5. nic

    More steakhaters than anything else.

  6. johanna

    The only stake they are holding is the one they want to put through the Abbott government’s heart.

  7. Rob MW

    A “Stakeholder” is nothing more than a fu$%*&@ fork.

  8. Delta A

    Great! Can we get rid of sustainable, too?

  9. harrys on the boat

    Has Nick Cater joined the ranks as a regular Catallaxy poster? Good stuff if so, and apologies if I’m late in finding out.

    This just reiterates why most of us are seeing Abbott as a soft cock. There is so much shit he could be clearing out, the majority of which would go totally unnoticed, but he just seems to be tinkering around the edges.

    Rabz’s ABC solution really needs to be wide-spread over much of the public service and associated “stakeholders”.

    Fire. Them. All.

    Shut. It. Down.

  10. Rabz

    Harry, I prefer the reverse order, Squire!

  11. Splatacrobat

    A typical stakeholder meeting
    From the European Commission website Multi-stakeholder Forum on Corporate social responsibility
    Notice how every blob person around the table are a different colour and all are holding their own colour puzzle piece?

    Now notice the jigsaw puzzle in the centre is sky blue and Sky blue blog person is the only one holding the same colour puzzle piece as the rest of the jigsaw?

    So the EC is really telling me that there can only be one true stakeholder in this meeting and the key to running a successful multi-stakeholder forum is to let the other colour blobs think they can usefully contribute.

    No wonder Europe is a toilet.

  12. Splatacrobat

    Try a word count on “future”
    It’s what the left love talking about because they fuck up the past and the present so much they need green fields to destroy.

  13. Jessie

    Ha Nick Cater takes on the public health activist Simon Chapman. Beware Nick, his 56 page CV is listed under Assets, University of Sydney.

    Many wish Chapman had stuck with his initial interest in tanning and we might have seen some media interest, free access to academic papers and policy outcomes in youth justice, rape and assault in remote Australia. Puzzling he gave away the subject of bikini babes and medical malpractice for tobacco and alcohol.

  14. dianeh

    Nick is 100% correct, the groups are not stakeholders.

    This was the same situation with MDBA and that ‘grand plan’ to water dry old billabongs, breed European Carp, let water run out to see and steal water from farmers.

    Activists groups were reported as stakeholders and treated as such by the MDBA. The resulting draft plan got the respect it deserved when the Griffith irrigators burnt it.

  15. ar

    Labor stakeholders still couldn’t use them effectively against Krudd…

  16. Baldrick

    Other buzz words and phrases worth removing from the English language:
    - selfie
    - empowerment
    - sustainability
    - new paradigm
    - 1 per centers
    - closing the gap
    - buy-in
    - benchmarking
    - holistic approach

    Just to name but a few.

  17. C.L.

    Obesity Policy Coalition

    Sounds like an indy band.

    This one, specifically:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VJVw32EkIM

  18. dan

    I will have to look at the papers to work this out but seriously how can you label individual foods as good or bad? I mean you would die without any salt, but according to this logic a jar of rock salt should presumably get zero stars if not a skull and crossbones. How about butter or oil? It just makes no sense.

  19. Bill

    “state of the art”
    “KPI”
    “industry best practise”
    “driving change”

  20. dan

    Simon Chapman.
    three full pages listing every letter to the editor he has had published
    a list of all the ‘rapid responses’ he has ever written to the BMJ – that is much like writing comments on Catallaxy – and other online comments, complete with number of views…a list of 234 articles written for newspapers and online newsletters.
    He has 3,894 followers on Twitter according to the CV.
    He lists his mention by the IPA in ‘enemies of freedom’ in his CV

  21. H B Bear

    Professor Mike Daube is the taxpayer funded face of the Nanny State.

    He is the little old woman peeping through her lace curtains at the dangerous world outside. And demanding that the government do something about it.

  22. Mick of Brisbane

    The only relevant stakeholders would be the consumers and the manufacturers.

  23. Tas

    no one has mentioned my favourite ………. “moving forward”

  24. dan

    Jessica Irvine has an opinion on this.

    No wonder the food companies pack out our foods with the cheaper crap to maximise our desire for the food and their own bottom lines (at the expense of ours).

  25. Pedro

    Let’s also get rid of “Community Leader”. Much misused.

  26. johanna

    Dan

    Amazing quote from Our Jecca.

    Apparently, the more expensive food is, the better it is for us.

    The only thing between her ears is politically incorrect fairy floss.

  27. Vicki

    I can recall in the early 1990s the bureaucrats in the then NSW Dept of Planning insisted that squatters in derelict buildings in Pyrmont in Sydney were “stakeholders”. They probably still would.

  28. .

    Apparently, the more expensive food is, the better it is for us.

    No no. The lower the profit margin.

    The more food miles = bad, the more fuel miles per weight/dollar value = good.

    Food miles is a metric which exemplifies the moron code.

  29. blogstrop

    Activist = lefty troublemaker.
    Freedom Fighter = mostly Terrorists.
    Concerned citizen = these days anyone opposed to affordable energy

  30. Ed

    These are not stakeholders. They are activists.

    Quote of the day.
    Thank you Nick Cater for expressing an important point so simply and elegantly.

  31. egg_

    About as relevant as a bunch of steakholders around a George Foreman BBQ

  32. Senile Old Guy

    I will have to look at the papers to work this out but seriously how can you label individual foods as good or bad?

    Don’t bother. It is complete crap. Even RDI is a stretch. See here.

  33. JC

    Whenever I hear the term stakeholder, an image of a contraption comes mind of a steak sitting in something used for cooking in a barbecue.

  34. johanna

    Getting back to the topic, the recent genuflection to “stakeholders” is no accident. It is a way of getting around old legal principles to do with “standing.” In the old Common Law, if it did not materially affect you, it was none of your business.

    What these charlatans have been allowed to do is to claim that everything is their business, because we all live on Gaia, or something.

    The erosion of the notion of “standing” is a central principle of the Left.

  35. Menai Pete

    Moving forward I think that we should have a conversation about this before we embark on a journey of discovery. Then again maybe we should just tell these fools to go f##k themselves.

  36. Chris M

    Totally agree Nick, I really can’t stand that word and have never liked it.

    Aussies used to be known for calling a spade a spade, that has all gone now. In general we are more whingey than the Poms and more acquiescent than the Krauts.

  37. MT Isa Miner

    I want to hunt down and kill sustainable too.

    johanna

    #1194301, posted on February 18, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Getting back to the topic, the recent genuflection to “stakeholders” is no accident. It is a way of getting around old legal principles to do with “standing.” In the old Common Law, if it did not materially affect you, it was none of your business.

    What these charlatans have been allowed to do is to claim that everything is their business, because we all live on Gaia, or something.

    The erosion of the notion of “standing” is a central principle of the Left.

    FM, johanna. You are right.

    One of the central themes that has yet to be fully resolved concerns which parties should be in a position to take action in respect of environmental harm. Existing private-law mechanisms focus on individual loss, be it in the form of personal injuries or damage to property. This immediately limits the class of persons who may claim and focuses attention on the individual loss rather than the wider environmental harm.

    This issue is discussed within a wider European Union (EU) context, namely the long-running debate regarding the necessity for a European civil liability regime for environmental damage. These proposals culminated in a White Paper setting out a regime designed to overcome many of the drawbacks associated with the use of tort in this context. This included a proposal to afford standing to non-government organizations (NGOs) to seek a remedy where there was no private party able or willing to act. The issue of standing is crucial in this debate in that the effect of a regime would be limited if access to remedies was limited to traditional categories of claimant.

    AGAIN, the left destroys property rights.

    Always look for the fingerprints of the Marxists.

  38. quibbler

    “Stakeholder” is a wank word.

    Enjoy a game of bingo.

    http://www.hobotraveler.com/wankwordbingo.htm

  39. Interested observer

    As a small scale apiarist and honey packer, the first I heard of this latest “policy initiative” was when it crashed in flames. I could not even imagine how I could fit on an extra lot of “health data” without removing the information to my customers of where it was sourced and how it was harvested. From further reading it appeared that the public servant bureaucrats were imposing their own agenda in defiance of the elected government.

  40. Senile Old Guy

    I could not even imagine how I could fit on an extra lot of “health data” without removing the information to my customers of where it was sourced and how it was harvested.

    And you wouldn’t even be adding useful “health data”.

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