On the never never

Language changes and evolves according to the trends and fashions of life. I imagine that the expression to buy something “on the never never” has probably reached the end of its useful life.
It means to buy something in small instalments. Before credit cards came along and the banks decided there was money to make from that business, it was customary, particularly in the first half of the 20th century for people to finance large purchases by using payment plans that stores, farmer’s societies and other cooperatives offered. Sometimes this was called hire purchase, meaning the buyer “rented” the product for use until they had paid all the instalments whereupon they became the owner. Other arrangements involved paying sums on a weekly basis until all or most of the product had been paid for and it was delivered to you.


We bought the fridge on the never never and won’t finish paying it off until next year.

In the past, people often had to wait to acquire something new and household management involved setting small sums aside each week for the different future purchases they were working towards.
Once credit cards became popular, the idea of laboriously saving up for appliances etc. became old fashioned and people like my parents’ generation who were brought up in the depression and would comment on the younger generation getting everything so fast seemed out of touch.


Not even thirty and they have a two story house, two cars, a timeshare and a huge wardrobe! Talk about having it all!




Bob is such a sponger. Sleeping at his brother’s, eating at his Mum’s and always borrowing from friends. Doesn’t he ever pay for anything?

To sponge off others is to get things free from people when you would be expected to pay for yourself or at least share costs.

It is a really graphic metaphor as the sponge absorbs water in that complete way mopping up all the moisture around it.


One of the drawbacks of being rich and famous is that there are always people trying to sponge off you.  They think you are a gold mine.



This word, which can be both a noun and a verb is roughly synonymous with scam or fraud.  It means to cheat the system in some way.  It’s a word that has been in quite common use in Australia and New Zealand and is now being found in the States and further afield. Originally it was quite a slang expression but with the easing up in formality of language, rort is being employed in a range of different linguistic registers.

So, we get to hear of social welfare rorts, tax rorts, rorts in sports (cute rhyme huh?) and wherever people are seeking to gain a benefit from the system.

Gladys is onto a great rort. She is receiving the dole (unemployment benefit) and all the concessions like free transport for that but is getting paid fortunes by being part of a house-a-refugee scheme. She has at least four in her house and the government pays thousands for each one on top of what she receives for being unemployed.

The transport companies were accused of rorting the government by claiming subsidies way in excess of their needs.