Australianisms: Mug Lair

You can laugh off ratbag and hoon, Dubbo and dill, but mug lair?
Try copping that sweet, mate.

Hoon’s a pretty good word but it’s lost a lot of its sting. Once a term for a prostitute’s pimp, it now refers mainly to those hooligans an octane or so below petrol-heads in the Church of Internal Combustion. However, once officialdom got hold of it and made it respectable by enshrining it in “anti-hooning” legislation and by-laws, its fate was sealed. Its use in headlines and news bulletins on every news-weak day has made it a rallying call and a symbol of identity.  Ridicule does as much as anything to stem anti-social behaviour, and, if the truth be told, hoon was never really strong enough to do much damage, so let’s resurrect another good old Aussie phrase, one with a lot more sting: “mug lair”. Mug lair. You can’t laugh that down and no-one, no matter how addicted to infamy, would want to wear it. It’s a terrible phrase from which there’s no escape.

And where can we find a better definition for the term than in our current Prime Minister, The Pentecostal Peregrinator, Scott Morrison. The newspaper proprietors and industrial pirates who elected him might want us to think of him as a “Daggy Dad”, but my generation – and my forebears – wouldn’t wear that. They’d call him for what he is, a mug lair with a head like a boarding-house cup of tea, big and bloody weak.

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