This post has been corrected.
You know you’re doing quality political satire when a leader of a major country unironically adopts one of your deliberately dumb phrases.
Malcolm Turnbull, the prime minister of Australia, has in recent days publicly used the phrase “continuity and change,” or some variation of it, when discussing what to expect from his government. It’s a poorly veiled attempt at assuring citizens that some Liberal Party policies will continue under his leadership while at the same time distancing himself from the unpopular Tony Abbott—the former prime minister and fellow Liberal Party member whom Turnbull ousted from the position in September. Continuity…but with change! Get it?
Turnbull used the phrase several times on ABC, the country’s state-owned public broadcaster, on Monday (March 21). According to BuzzFeed, he then went on Australian radio station 3AW and said the slogan four times in less than two minutes.
Unfortunately for Turnbull, he’s not the first person to come up with the turn of phrase. It was heard first on HBO’s Veep, an Emmy-winning political satire show starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, a US vice president who eventually becomes president. (Hat tip to ABC News political reporter Greg Jennett for noticing the similarity between Meyer’s slogan and Turnbull’s turn of phrase.)
“Continuity with Change” served as the character’s official campaign slogan when she ran for re-election in the show’s fourth season, which aired in 2015.
“We needed [the slogan] to be hollow and oxymoronic, to say absolutely nothing but seem to have depth and meaning,” Simon Blackwell, Veep‘s executive producer, told the Guardian. “It did make me laugh a lot when I saw that the Australian PM’s people had been on the same mental journey and come up with the same meaningless phrase.”
“The aim is to have it sound snappy and confident, as if it makes sense,” Armando Iannucci, the show’s creator, told the Hollywood Reporter. “In fact, it means nothing. The two words cancel each other out.”
The show’s cast has reacted to Turnbull’s gaffe with a combination of bewilderment and gratitude:
Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to Malcolm Turnbull as Australia’s head of state.