LOST IN THOUGHT: Premier Nathan Rees pictured with Lismore MP Thomas George. Mr Rees has described Nationals voters in coastal seats as ‘spivs’. Tell us what you think Mr Rees and Mr George are thinking in this picture and post your answers to ‘I’m no spiv’, c/o The Northern Star, PO Box 423, Lismore, 2480.
LOST IN THOUGHT: Premier Nathan Rees pictured with Lismore MP Thomas George. Mr Rees has described Nationals voters in coastal seats as ‘spivs’. Tell us what you think Mr Rees and Mr George are thinking in this picture and post your answers to ‘I’m no spiv’, c/o The Northern Star, PO Box 423, Lismore, 2480.

Premier Rees under pressure over 'spivs' remark

AS A nation Australia has a long, and some would argue, rich history of the political insult.

Whatever your political persuasion, there are plenty of memorable lines.

However, many think NSW Premier Nathan Rees breached the cardinal rule this week by appearing to attack voters, rather than his political opponents.

Mr Rees raised eyebrows on the North Coast on Tuesday when he seemed to suggest the region was full of spivs.

In a political attack on the NSW National Party, the Premier said: “They’ve shifted from being a genuine party that represents the interests of farmers and rural workers to an outfit that represents spivs along the coastline of NSW.”

So what exactly is a spiv? Macquarie Dictionary editor Susan Butler said think Arthur Daley from the TV series, Minder.

She said the word could only be used as an insult. “The term ‘spiv’ always has a negative connotation, and you can’t use it in a flattering or complimentary way. The word is definitely negative,” she said.

“The starting point of the word is someone looking flashy in a cheap and tawdry fashion. On top of that is the notion that, while on the surface this person looks fantastic, they are probably getting their
money from dubious business activities bordering on illegality.”

Mr Rees, a relative newcomer to Parliament who served only a short term in the ministry before getting the top job, is known for his short temper and ill-considered comments.

Southern Cross University politics lecturer Ros Irwin said calling someone a spiv was offensive.

“One of the reasons politicians have such a bad reputation is because they do precisely what Nathan
Rees has just done. Normally they just attack each other, however, the fact that he is now attacking the people he presumes support the National Party is a step beyond the usual,” she said.

Ms Irwin said National Party MPs in the North Coast were well regarded, despite the different political persuasions of people.

“They are representing concerns and demonstrating a connection with their constituents, and perhaps that’s what Mr Rees needs to do,” she said.

Mr Rees yesterday tried to hose down the controversy.

“My comments were not directed at North Coast residents,” the Premier said in a statement to The Star. “They were directed squarely at the party which has abandoned them and chose to hold their conference in the Sydney suburb of Kirribilli.

“In response to a question on falling donations to the National Party I said that it wasn’t surprising since they offer no alternative.”


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