How do you talk about economic change in a way that makes it happen? According to current commentary, we need look no further than the golden age of economic reform during the Hawke-Keating years, and perhaps a few of the Howard-Costello years. Later Australian governments, on the other hand, are generally judged to be incapable of constructing effective reform narratives. This is puzzling given that much of the language around change on both sides of politics has long tended to be couched in terms of safeguarding a kind of foundational status quo. And even when economic reform has occurred, it has often been packaged in a rhetoric of preservation and stability. So how does reform happen in one instance but not another? Studying the rhetoric of economic reform can provide crucial insights into how Australian policymakers construe change and progress, how they perceive Australian identity, and whether their linguistic choices can potentially shorten the odds for governing.