“Lying” and Cowardice

Everyone knows that politicians will break promises. In fact, there are plenty of times when it’s actually the right thing to do. The word “lying” or “liar” has been so abused that people don’t really understand it anymore. If you break a promise, you’re not a liar. If you change your mind, you’re not a liar. Lying is deliberately telling an untruth with the intent to deceive.

This isn’t about the Abbott Government’s treatment of Refugees and Asylum Seekers. They told us exactly what they were going to do and they did it. Australia voted for “towing back the boats”. Australia voted for keeping children in concentration camps. Shame on us and many of us may not like it, but the Abbott government was honest about it, and did what they said they would do.

This isn’t about Climate Change. They dismantled the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and have taken every step they can to remove the Carbon Tax and any shred of real action on Climate Change. Many of us may not like it, and it may end up being be the single stupidest act in Australia’s history, but the Abbott government was honest about it, and did what they said they would do.

On a range of other issues, the Abbott government was honest, and did what they said they would do.

But this Budget (2014) is different.

The Charter of Budget Honesty introduced by Peter Costello meant that incumbent governments could no longer claim that finances were better than they actually were, but also that incoming governments could no longer claim that they were worse than they actually were. The end of the predictable “Budget Black Hole” that allowed incoming governments to have an excuse for breaking a bunch of their promises (“core” vs “non-core”) was no more.

So everyone knew the size of government debt, the size of the deficit, and we could have an honest exchange of views that was based on reality. At least we thought we were having an honest exchange of views.

This is not about whether or not you think the size of the deficit is a problem or not, or even whether or not you think that the size of government debt is a problem or not, nor is it about the rate at which you think needs to be reduced. There will always be disagreement on those things, and that’s why we have elections.

The magnitude of the budget deficit and net public debt have not changed since before the election, except due to decisions made by the Abbott government since the election, and those decisions haven’t made a significant change to either. So the circumstances haven’t changed.

This means that so many promises made by Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey before the election were lies. They never intended to keep those promises. They made them with the clear intent to deceive. The circumstances have not changed. There is no foundation for this complete reversal of their policy platform. They were banging on about the need to reduce debt and the deficit before the election and that continues to be their mantra. That part is perfectly fine. But now we find that the actions they want to take to address that deficit and debt are completely the opposite of what they told the Australian public before the election.

So why then have all those promises been broken? Because they never intended to keep them in the first place. No new taxes, no cuts to Education, no cuts to health, no changes to the Aged pension, no cuts to the ABC or SBS, no changes to foreign aid. It was all pure bullshit.

Why couldn’t they have had the courage to take their true policy platform to the election? This was their plan all along, they just didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to stand behind it before the election, pretending they would do something else until they were safely on the government benches.

This is not so much about WHAT the Abbott Government has done, this is about HOW they have done it. We’ve always known their conservative position on a number of issues. That’s why a lot of people vote for them. But I guess they knew if they told the whole truth, there would be a certain segment of the voting public that wouldn’t vote for them: the swinging voters. Those who actually decide the election outcome. They aren’t rusted on to either end of the political spectrum, and make their decision each time they vote, based on the performance of the government and what the opposition says they’ll do if they are elected.

The Abbott government is a bunch of gutless wonders. They don’t have the courage of their convictions. They actually lied to their own supporters! And now they’re lying about the lies, in true Orwellian style, by saying they didn’t break any promises. At least Julia Gillard admitted that she broke her promise on the carbon tax.

The Abbott Government is a pack of cowards.