'Kwaussie' named Australian word of the year

The word took on a new lease of life when Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce found out he had Kiwi citizenship in August. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (AFP) - Inspired by a dual citizenship crisis plaguing politics in Australia, the term "Kwaussie" - a mix of Kiwi and Aussie - was on Monday (Dec 4) picked as word of the year.

It had been used sparingly in the past to describe a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand, but took on a new lease of life when Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce found out he also had Kiwi citizenship in August.

He was the highest profile scalp of a constitutional provision barring dual citizens from serving in Federal Parliament, with eight lawmakers forced to resign so far.

"In a time of covfefe, fake news, and tweetstorms, the Australian National Dictionary Centre has looked for a word of the year that is both lexically interesting and Australian," the centre's director Amanda Laugesen said in a statement.

Laugesen said "Kwaussie" was first used in 2002 to describe actor Russell Crowe.

"He was described as a Kwaussie - what you get when you cross a Kiwi who can't decide whether they're a Kiwi or an Aussie," she said.

"Subsequent evidence suggests its use is predominantly Australian, found chiefly in social media, and also found with spelling variants including Kwozzie and Kwozzy.

"Thanks to the two Kwaussies identified as ineligible to sit in parliament - Barnaby Joyce and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam - the term is now becoming better known." Joyce automatically acquired New Zealand citizenship through his father, and was forced to contest a by-election at the weekend, which he won comfortably.

The citizenship crisis has engulfed a number of MPs who claim to have unknowingly held dual citizenship, and threatens more with politicians given a deadline of this week to come clean about their status.

The Australian National Dictionary Centre is a major centre for lexicographical research, conducting research into Australian English and editing dictionaries.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.