Lying occasionally or for all seasons?


I was with some friends on Friday. We had difficulty on agreeing what the proposed superannuation changes were, who they affected and by how much. Consolation came via the view that Chalmers appeared not to understand them either. The Prime Minister, of course, was caught lying.  I don’t make the charge lightly. Politicians often renege on a promise. Regrettable, but not lying unless the politician knew beforehand that the promise would not be fulfilled.

For example, I don’t think Julia Gillard lied about not introducing a carbon tax. She simply changed her mind once returned to office. However, when she said afterwards that she had always indicated that a carbon price might be levied, she lied. She had promised a citizens’ assembly to determine what should be done. She knew that and lied about it. A terrible thing, lying. It’s the lingua franca of evil.

Tony Abbott reneged on a number of promises. I blame Joe Hockey, maybe unfairly. It took no time at all for broken promises to shift public opinion and bring Abbott down. It was a reckless betrayal of voters, and Abbott must bear the ultimate blame. All the same, I don’t believe he ever lied.

Albanese had said that no changes would be made to superannuation before the election. Yet he twisted this around, pretending he had said no “major” changes. I am sorry, this is lying with intention to deceive and shows a weakness of character. Man up. Say that you’ve changed your mind and policy. Don’t pretend otherwise and try to worm out of it.

To put it kindly, Gillard went on to skirt the truth about other things, which I covered in a Quadrant  blog at the time. Lying begets lying? Or, is that some people are just prone to lying? Are they chronic and habitual liars, as Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton) witheringly puts it to Frau Helm (Marlene Dietrich) in Witness for the Prosecution.  Albanese bears watching.


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Dunny Brush
Dunny Brush
March 5, 2023 2:31 pm

It was a lie to win government. Teals would never have got in had the super policy been honestly outdated for example.

Damon
Damon
March 5, 2023 3:17 pm

Both sides lie. The only difference is when, and by whom, they get caught.

Bruce of Newcastle
Bruce of Newcastle
March 5, 2023 3:39 pm

The flip side is evident in Albo’s voicelessness on the Voice.

He knows that we the people won’t accept what he plans for the Voice, so he has chosen to not say anything about what it will be. That way when the referendum gets up, because of feelz, he can make it whatever he wants. Which is basically a Labor-controlled veto on anything and everything.

Then of course there’s always the Peter Garrett approach, which was to say “when we get in we’ll just change it all”.

Christine
Christine
March 5, 2023 4:00 pm

Appearances only; it’s not difficult to view Anthony Albanese as a sneaky, dishonest type.
Whereas a Jim Chalmers, nice-looking face and pleasant manner, is more a type to be watching with suspicion. To my mind.

jupes
jupes
March 5, 2023 4:06 pm

Lying begets lying?

It sure does. Start lying and it’s hard to stop, if for no other reason than to cover up the original lie.

Ed Case
Ed Case
March 5, 2023 4:22 pm

Tony Abbott definitely lied about repealing S 18[c].

How could you argue that he just had a change of heart over the issue?

Then there was declaring Climate Change “bullshit”.

He went to water when asked to repeat it.

Then there was the matter of Tony doing a deal with the NZ PM for them to nominate Kevin Rudd as UN Sec. Gen.
How dishonest was that?

Then there was the Knighthood for Prince Philip.
Greg Sheridan lied that Queen Elizabeth had asked Abbott to bestow the Knighthood, then when ex P.M. Abbott showed up unannounced at Buckingham Palace the next year, he was shown the door.

Then there was the leadership challenge against Malcolm Turnbull where some of Abbott’s backers voted for Turnbull to deny Joe Hockey a place in the runoff.
That came back to bite Abbott 6 years later!

Mak Siccar
Mak Siccar
March 5, 2023 4:30 pm

They are called the Liebor Party and the Lieboral Party for very good reasons.

Christine
Christine
March 5, 2023 4:37 pm

Abbott was turned away from the Palace? Fascinating.
I would like to know more.

rosie
rosie
March 5, 2023 4:41 pm

Ed Case is a lying expert.

Bar Beach Swimmer
March 5, 2023 4:48 pm

Clear, unambiguous statements are taken as such. See the infamous Gillard statement.

180 degree turns after the votes are tallied to your favour, using with weasel words or the inclusion of modifiers – see “major” in the current circumstances- try to smooth the lies. But lies they remain.

These people have been in parliament for years, have watched their opponents when on the treasury benches and before their elevation to officeholder status. They all know what lying is.

Ed Case
Ed Case
March 5, 2023 5:05 pm

Abbott was turned away from the Palace? Fascinating.
I would like to know more.

You would?

In that case, start reading the newspapers, Gertrude.
From 2016 onwards.

Ed Case
Ed Case
March 5, 2023 5:06 pm

Ed Case is a lying expert.

You wrote the book, luvvie.

Petros
Petros
March 5, 2023 5:22 pm

I think you are being too soft on them, Peter Smith. Businesses cannot tell lies in advertisements, neither should politicians be allowed to.

Rossini
Rossini
March 5, 2023 5:48 pm

Ed Case
Although politicans lie one does not excuse the other

billie
billie
March 5, 2023 5:56 pm

Speaking of Teals, the resident Teal in Kooyong is heading back to court and with any luck the Fair Work Commission as well.

Shadenfreude for all the kooyong voters who didn’t vote for her and the ones who did are now wondering who they really voted for and what really was the point.

Yon Teal want to be PM she claims, is not in a party, so I suspect a quick left turn to Labor is imminent!

If she thinks her greenie head of staff is a piece of work, wait till she meets the Labor party girl squad

Ed Case
Ed Case
March 5, 2023 6:41 pm

Ed Case
Although politicans lie one does not excuse the other

Wow!
Deep, man.

John Brumble
John Brumble
March 5, 2023 6:47 pm

Dover.

Continuing to pander to Googlery is a poor reflection on you and your site.

He’s not here to have a discussion.

“Troll” is an overused word, which has become synonymous with “person who disagrees with me”. And if it is that sort of person, then yes, arguing against their position may he a good thing. But trolls should be kept in the dark and not fed.

Stop promoting and feeding this fwit

Ed Case
Ed Case
March 5, 2023 6:48 pm

Here’s another one:
After the 2010 Election, when Abbott went within a coupla thousand votes of victory, Bronwyn Bishop said she’d investigate the 16,000 instances of multiple voting identified by the AEC at that Election, if the Coalition won next time.
Liberals had a huge win on the back of Abbott’s lying in 2013, but Bishop got amnesia about her earlier pledge.
Fran Bailey said the AEC itself needed to be investigated after a long battle in the Court of Disputed Returns, but nothing ever eventuated.

Vicki
Vicki
March 5, 2023 7:16 pm

Peter, I am just as concerned about a politician’s consistency in standing for stated values, as I am about “lying”. Pretty much one and the same, at the end of the day.

This is fundamentally what disappointed me in various Liberal leaders such as Abbott & Morrison. I thought they stood for certain values. And while I understand the exigencies of political life – there are some things that cannot be denied or negotiated.

Roger
Roger
March 5, 2023 8:23 pm

Say that you’ve changed your mind and policy. Don’t pretend otherwise and try to worm out of it.

Speaking of worming out, let’s not forget John Howard’s “core” and “non-core” promises.

That being said, I’d submit that the Liberals are ad hoc liars, whereas lying is part of the post-Howard era Labor Party’s modus operandi to attain power.

But that doesn’t excuse the Liberals; lying to the electorate in peace time for whatever reason is unconscionable.

Bruce in WA
March 5, 2023 8:23 pm

Stop promoting and feeding this fwit

Amen. Preach it, brother.

Gabor
Gabor
March 6, 2023 3:26 am

Christine says:
March 5, 2023 at 4:37 pm

Abbott was turned away from the Palace? Fascinating.
I would like to know more.

I wasn’t aware, you could just front up and be admitted, no matter who you are.
This is definitely news to me.

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare
Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare
March 6, 2023 7:00 am

There is outright lying, which is saying one thing that you do not mean and then doing another.
And then there is lying by omission – by not saying anything when you should. Sometimes this can be for a good purpose, sometimes not, but it is still deceitful.

I’ve just finished Margaret Cameron-Ash’s book ‘Lying for the Admiralty’ where she proves Captain Cook definitely fudged his maps in order to protect British interests in the Pacific, especially on the East Coast of Australia where he fudged knowing about Sydney’s magnificent harbour.

It proves Jupes’ point above. Once you start to lie, even by omission, you get caught out maintaining the lie and have to lie more doing so. There were enough sailors on The Endeavour to try to sell Cook’s tale which he had then to protect by lying about claiming ‘possession’. Also, he bore some retribution: his reputation as a careful geographer was smashed until modern times, when the omission was explained by Cameron-Ash.

sfw
sfw
March 6, 2023 8:08 am

Much of what Ed says about Abbott is right, Abbott did promise much, the Liberal base really got behind him, the election result proves it. However Abbott did go to water once in power, of course he didn’t lie when he promised so much, he just failed miserably when given a once in a lifetime chance to fulfill his promises. I really should feel sorry for him, you would think that someone like him would be ashamed to look in the mirror. But I don’t he now travels the world, living off our taxes and spends his time telling others what they should do to fix problems.

Mother Lode
Mother Lode
March 6, 2023 8:40 am

The thing which struck me about Gillard was, as you say, she likely did not intend to introduce a CO2 tax when she got in. But out of the options for an levying an impost on first-world living the one she went with afterward was the one she had explicitly ruled out.

Rafiki
Rafiki
March 6, 2023 8:59 am

The repeal of 18C was always going to be difficult, given the range of media backed interests who wanted to control speech. If the LNP could rely on a Senate vote to pass a repeal Abbott might have worn the opposition. But he couldn’t, and a Senate defeat would have been promoted as a humiliation of him and his government. Was it then better policy to avoid that distraction and defeat and get on with achieving what he could?
OTOH, Abbott humiliated Hockey by retracting the latter’s statement the the ABC’s budget would be up for review.

Mother Lode
Mother Lode
March 6, 2023 9:43 am

The repeal of 18C was always going to be difficult, given the range of media backed interests who wanted to control speech.

Yup. Backing down on s18C was not really an issue for the electorate – otherwise it would have resulted in people crying out for it and other politicians stepping forward to champion it. But very few people talked about it then or since. I suspect to most people it was a bit too abstract – they had not actually known anyone who had been attacked with with and it seemed like one of those things high profile people might have to worry about. Even more remote than defamation. People say nasty things in a pub and its no biggy. Someone says a milder version of the same thing on a TV program and it is a lawsuit.

Brandis was the one who made it distasteful to the public with his infamous gloss that ‘bigots have the right to be bigots’. I had hoped this would be the opening salvo of a campaign to lay out the issues at hand. A person can have whatever thoughts they want, even say a thing or two and maybe learn from it. But as soon as it impacts another person one way or another then existing laws against discrimination would come into play. And, besides, people might end up surprised at how many of their own thoughts might ‘offend’ someone. Their commonsense might be someone else’s bigotry.

But, nope. Decent people had been conditioned to abhor bigotry so removing s18C, and empowering bigots, became indefensible. And now we live with cancel culture where the right to not be offended (which had never existed before) trumps the right to speak your mind (for which people have fought and died).

As I see it what people need to do is to not just accept political promises but to take them for what they really are and reflect on whether politicians will really be able to deliver on them. Part of this is whether they would ever have the right majority (ideas in the lower house can stall in the upper one). With regards Abbott he was either aware that his party was committed to knocking down s18C, or not. My personal suspicion is that they duped him. The party that revealed itself after his removal and the installation of that grotesque polyp Trumble would have thought nothing of lying.

A politicians promise is only as solid as the government’s prospects, unity, and honesty.

So not worth much.

Bar Beach Swimmer
March 6, 2023 10:08 am

a Senate defeat would have been promoted as a humiliation of him and his government. Was it then better policy to avoid that distraction and defeat and get on with achieving what he could?

Iirc, not since Howard put his industrial relations changes to the Senate multiple times has a government had the guts to stand up and fight for a “core” promise using the DD trigger to resolve the legislative position.

Yes, the idiot Turnbull took the country to a DD and almost lost government. But the result of that election was not about his DD trigger – the reinstatement of the ABCC – it was about the low value/back stabbing candidate on offer and the Lib base rebelling over it.

On legislative triggers: as Howard pointed out after he won the 1996 election, policy platforms have core and non-core promises, or what may be more accurately termed a government’s “first and second tier” legislative agenda. Which demonstrates the difference between the calling of a DD after the Senate has refused on three separate occasions to pass the change, and not doing so. Shelving the legislation because of an inability to have it passed, if the legislation is from the second tier (i.e. in the prominence given to it in the party’s election policy platform agenda) until circumstances change, I don’t think can be termed a lie.

Given that electors choose their candidate for any number of reasons – it might be because a promise was made to resurface a local road – rather than voting for that party’s head office agenda, is always a possibility.

But when the policy platform and clear, unambiguous statements made by the leader – see Howard and the IR reforms v Gillard and the No Carbon Tax; or, in the case of Abbott, Stop the Boats/Remove the Carbon & Mining Taxes v Albanese, a $275.00 reduction in power bills, (said iirc +90 times)/no changes to superannation, the electorate knows what’s being offered and what’s being ruled out

I wish Abbott had stated clearly why 18C would need to be rewritten and announced it as a major plank of his second term, if he couldn’t get it passed during the 2013-2016 parliament. But if that was his plan, Turnbull and others ensured that it would never happen under Abbott’s (or anyone else’s) agenda on the Liberal side.

H B Bear
H B Bear
March 6, 2023 10:12 am

At least Stuart Robert came clean. But he was under oath this time.

Roger W
Roger W
March 6, 2023 11:15 am

People who tell big lies also seem compelled to tell little lies.
Tony Abbott attended a lunch for former Oxbridge boxers that I and another had organized. He had just been deposed as PM (we had earlier been half expecting/hoping for lunch at Kirribilli!!). At that lunch, seemingly spontaneously, Abbott promised to organize another in a year’s time. He was sent all the contact details to make it easy. If he had not, we would have maintained contacts and organized it ourselves. A year passed and nothing happened. A number of us, in different ways, contacted Abbott or his office to remind him of his promise, with no result. One reminder was even face to face in the surf at Manly!
I assume he simply wanted to make a grand gesture at the lunch and now also assume he never had any intention to follow through, as would be par for a politician. Sad, though, to be so unreliable on such a small and personal level. It did, however, give me an insight into his more public failures to follow through. It was simply how he was and, I suppose, still is.

Christine
Christine
March 6, 2023 3:02 pm

Thank you to Roger W
Tony Abbott wasn’t the man he appeared to be – not alone in that, of course.
Sections of “Battlelines” gave a hint.
He surely was a great disappointment.

Ed Case
Ed Case
March 6, 2023 5:37 pm

I wish Abbott had stated clearly why 18C would need to be rewritten

Um, he promised to Repeal it, not rewrite it.

… and announced it as a major plank of his second term, if he couldn’t get it passed during the 2013-2016 parliament.

Here’s the timeline:
Government sworn in, Brandis makes “bigots” statement, Peak body for Ethnics says No, Tony Abbott says “Not happening”.
There was outrage in the Liberal Party, since Repeal of S 18[c] was the Major Plank of the Liberal Party manifesto leading up to the 2013 Election.

But if that was his plan,

He categorically ruled it out, and never revisited the issue.

… Turnbull and others ensured that it would never happen under Abbott’s (or anyone else’s) agenda on the Liberal side.

Huh?
It wasn’t Turnbull’s Policy, it was Abbott’s promise to the voters.
He reneged.
Did. Not. Even. Try.

Ed Case
Ed Case
March 6, 2023 5:44 pm

Here’s the name of the Org. that told Tony Abbott “no” to repealing S 18[c]:
FECCA

FECCA was in the news again recently, announcing support for Yes to the Constitutional Amendment.

Tony Abbott has also inserted himself into this “debate”.

Be warned, he’s a snake,so don’t be fooled again.

miltonf
miltonf
March 6, 2023 7:45 pm

Sections of “Battlelines” gave a hint.
He surely was a great disappointment.

In what way Christine?

Nelson_Kidd-Players
March 7, 2023 10:50 pm

The only partial excuse I can come up with was the new government treading lightly with pending rerun of the WA senate vote after a box of ballots mysteriously ‘disappeared’ while en route to the Electoral Commission offices. (If only the box was radioactive…)

Even then, it’s hard to swallow. Does any Liberal hold the courage of their convictions? That seems to have now been answered in the negative.

Christine
Christine
March 8, 2023 11:15 am

7.45pm .. In what way, miltonf
Well, his book was good. I did wonder if he were the man to ‘follow through’.
After winning the prize, he disappeared for weeks.

To my mind, he was distracted.
He’d been the recipient of the ‘special boy’ treatment from the women in his life; perhaps what he badly wanted was to be a George Pell.

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