How do you talk about economic change in a way that not only makes it happen but endure? 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. But is it as clear-cut as that? Are there ‘good’ reform rhetorics and ‘bad’ ones, where success and failure come pre-wrapped inside each linguistic choice? Or has the language of economic change more or less remained the same while its resonance has faded? Studying the rhetoric of economic reform can provide crucial insights into the nature of the relationship between language and policymaking, and whether linguistic choices must themselves be recalibrated.