Aussie Life

Aussie Language

5 June 2021

9:00 AM

5 June 2021

9:00 AM

A campaign is needed against the word ‘partner’—so I have started one. It was launched on Peta Credlin’s program on Sky News and I am inviting you, dear Speccie reader, to join.

I am fed up with the push to banish the words ‘wife’ and ‘husband’ and replace them with the bland, meaningless ‘partner’. A piece in the Daily Telegraph recently referred to Kerrie-Anne Kennerley’s late ‘partner’ John. The truth is they were married for around 35 years. And I have a wife not a partner. To call her a partner sounds as if we’re in a law firm not a marriage. These terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ are venerable words that have long been part of the English language and Western civilisation (both go back to the 13th century).

In the Australian Defence Force there is a Group Communication Plan encouraging ADF personnel to ‘avoid using language such as “wife” or “husband” that assumes all relationships are heterosexual’.

Not only is this linguistic nonsense it is factually wrong. Ellen DeGeneres calls Portia de Rossi her ‘wife’. Elton John calls David Furnish his ‘husband’. And the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ have not been exclusively appropriated by the gay community. The whole community is entitled to use ‘wife’ and ‘husband’. So, I’m asking you to join the campaign to stop the efforts of the bullies who want to prescribe our language. How to join? Just by refusing to ever (under any circumstances) use ‘partner’ for a spouse, and always insist on ‘husband’ or ‘wife’. Are you in? You can let me know you’ve joined through the website below.

Meanwhile, indigenous leader and educator Noel Pearson has taken a swipe at progressive identity politics infecting the education system and asked for a return to ‘evidence based’ education. Of course, he’s quite right. For years the evidence has supported using phonics to teach children to read and exposed the weakness of the more trendy ‘whole language’ system.

Pearson also points to the evidence supporting teacher-led instruction instead of so-called ‘discovery learning’.

The expression ‘evidence based’ is first recorded in 1981. It arose because theory was replacing common sense in so many areas. The Oxford English Dictionary says, ‘evidence based’ means ‘the practical application of the findings of the best available current research’.

Every time I come across a call for an ‘evidence based’ approach to anything the question I ask myself is: why would anyone ever do anything else? Noel Pearson is right about the need for ‘evidence based’ education, but what I find alarming is that there also appears to be a need to promote ‘evidence based’ medicine. In 2013 one medical journal said ‘Evidence-based practice is essential to safe, high-quality patient outcomes’. Quite right! If anyone is doing medicine that is not ‘evidence based’ they should say so on their shingle so I can avoid them.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Contact Kel at

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments