Come Sunday 7 September the ‘adults’ as they are want to call themselves will have been in government for a year. How do we assess their performance? What have they done that progresses our nation? What policies have they implemented that serve the common good?
No doubt everyone will have a view that will be will be influenced by many factors. Allegiance to a party, objective analysis, bias or even single policy issues like education, health and the economy will influence your opinion.
In the past year I have addressed many issues pertaining to the Abbott Government. The most recent titled Giving Abbott a Serve in which I quote Paul Kelly of the Australian newspaper.
“Abbott is governing yet he is not persuading. So far. As Prime Minister he seems unable to replicate his success as Opposition leader: mobilising opinion behind his causes. The forces arrayed against Abbott, on issue after issue, seem more formidable than the weight the prime minister can muster.”
In two articles; “Remembering Abbott’s Past” and “Lest we Forget” I tackled Abbott’s suitability for the role of Prime Minister and I quoted the following:
The Guardian has judged him as “politically incorrect to the point of dementia”.
New Statesman said Abbott represents “politics at its most crass, exploitative and disturbing”.
UK Labour MP Paul Flynn called him “a bigoted airhead”.
The LA Times called itself “scandalised by his prejudices”.
The Sydney Morning Herald said “Tony Abbott had plumbed new lows in government decency”.
Le Monde thinks he is “sexist and vulgar”.
The influential Huffington Post said “he is simply an idiot”.
Then in another piece Abbott’s Thus Far Annus Horrbillis I took on his use of ideology to form a legacy.
“Most Prime Ministers when they achieve Government with a sizable majority set out to put in place policy initiatives that might define a legacy they will be remembered for. John Howard’s GST, Paul Keating’s Native Title and Bob Hawke’s sweeping changes to our monetary system come to mind. They all burnt up their political capital in the knowledge that it doesn’t last for ever. They all focused on big things. Large programmes that remain indelible in Australia’s historical political discourse”.
“The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason, never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rational explanation. We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves, rather than allowing ourselves to be manipulated and obstructed by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and self-interest groups”.
“It seems the Abbott government is attempting to socially engineer the minds of people. Nowhere is this more evident than its willingness to downgrade education and in particular science. Any pretext to the scientific understanding of environmental impacts has been thrown out the window to appease the sponge of capitalism”.
I devoted a number of pieces to the decline in our democracy including A Crisis in Our Democracy:
“Firstly, the Abbott factor and the death of truth as a principle of democratic necessity. I am convinced Tony Abbott believes that the effect of lying diminishes over time and therefore is a legitimate political tool. So much so that his words and actions bring into question the very worthiness of the word truth. Or he has at least devalued it to the point of obsolesce”.
And so it is on the subject of truth that that I make my judgement on Abbott and his Government. I wrote two articles on the subject. The first; Why Does Abbott Lie?
“Everyone knows that our Prime Minister is a liar. He might even be the worst amongst the world leaders. He is certainly the worst this nation has ever seen. Many of our most respected journalists and media commentators have said so. He has even admitted he is a liar himself. The evidence is so abundant, so overwhelmingly copious that it is beyond contradiction. It is fair to say that in general the populace accepts his lying as a fact. I and many others have listed them, quoted them, itemised, analysed them and exposed them in crystal clarity. Even members of his own party have accepted that he is a liar of nefarious intent. And his sheer indifference to the fact that he lies together with his lack of conscience about it I find sickening. The list is as long as a toilet roll. Only people like Jones and Bolt seek to convince people otherwise”.
And the second; Political Lies and who Tells Them.
The last piece speaks to the question of truth generally, but more so in politics. It concludes that.
Prime ministerial lies, about-faces and broken promises are as follows:
Gough Whitlam: 7
Malcolm Fraser: 52
Bob Hawke: 4
Paul Keating: 3
John Howard: 41
Tony Abbott (as minister): 17
Kevin Rudd: 4
Julia Gillard: 6
You would need to read the article to see how the how the list originated.
If you count the “No adverse changes to superannuation” Tony Abbott is on 32, and he is only in the first year of his term in office. At this rate he is guaranteed to set a new record.
It then goes that if you judge a government on its integrity, truthfulness, openness, leadership and its policies (or absence of them) one could only conclude that this one has been a monumental flop.
1. Does not spend his first week as Prime Minister with an Aboriginal community – 14 September 2013. This promise was made in front of indigenous elders and participants at the Garma Festival on 10 August 2013, this is a live recording.
2. Fails to “stop the boats” – 23 September 2013. This promise was repeated so many times I can’t count. Here’s Abbott’s 2013 campaign launch speech.
3. Breaks his promise to support Gonski – 25 November 2013 and 13 May 2014. Fails to commit to future funding or to require States to match the Commonwealth funding commitment. See paragraph two from Christopher Pyne on 29 August 2013.
4. Breaks its NBN election promise of giving all Australians access to 25 megabits per second download speeds by 2016 – 12 December 2013 This was the Coalition’s policy they took to the election first announced 9 April 2013.
5. Breaks his election promise of no cuts to education by cutting funding for trade training centres in schools on 17 December 2013. He made this promise at the National Press Club on 2 September 2013 and in writing on 5 September 2013 as part of their policy commitments.
6. Breaks a promise to make no cuts to health. He made this promise at the National Press Club on 2 September 2013 and in writing on 5 September 2013 as part of their policy commitments. This promise was first broken on 27 November 2013 when they cut funding to the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council.
7. Breaks a promise to make no cuts to health on 17 December 2013 when they cut $150 million from hospitals and health services.
8. Fails to provide the promised customs vessel to monitor whaling operations in the Southern Ocean – 23 December 2013 Promise made by Greg Hunt.
9 April 20139. Breaks a promise to provide fibre-to-the-premises for all Tasmanians for the National Broadband Network. This promise was confirmed my Malcolm Turnbull on 17 August 2013 and confirmed as broken by the NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski on 13 February 2014.
10. Breaks a promise to introduce the paid parental leave scheme he took to the election on 30 April 2014 by reducing the promised benefit for those earning above $100 000.
11. Breaks promise of “no cuts to the ABC or SBS” by cutting $43.5 million from the ABC and SBS.
12. Breaks a promise of “no new taxes” by introducing a deficit tax rise of two percentage points for people earning more than $180,000 a year.
13. Announced to sacking of 16,500 public sector workers as whole Departments are abolished despite promising only 12,000 job losses and through natural attrition.
14. Breaks a promise of “no new taxes” by introducing a fuel levy.
15. Reduction in foreign aid budget of $7.9 billion over five years despite promise to not exceed $4.5 billion and cut via indexation.
16. Increases the pension age to 70 from 2035 after promising no changes to pensions.
17. Cuts to old age pension by indexing to CPI, while it was promised there would be no changes.
18. Scraps The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) which was set up to support new and emerging renewable technologies and in doing so breaks an election promise.
19. Tears up Federal Government’s agreement with states and territories to help fund increasing health costs despite promise of no cuts to health.
20. Breaks a promise to make no cuts to health with a $368 million cut from preventative health measures.
21. Reduces the Medicare benefit for optometry services and allows optometrists to charge more, despite promise to not cut health budget.
22. Axes the Charles Sturt University’s dental and oral health clinics, despite promise to not cut health budget.
23. Abolishes Medicare locals, despite promise to not cut health budget.
24. Breaks a promise to spend $2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund by committing less than half this amount in the budget.
25. Breaks a promise to have one million more solar roofs across Australia and at least solar towns.
26. Breaks a promise not to cuts funding to health by dramatically cutting hospital funding.
27. Breaks election promise and slashes funding to Landcare.
28. Breaks promise that no public servants will be forced into redundancy after revelations that two public servants in the Department of Industry have been made involuntarily redundant since September.
29. Breaks promise that no public servants will be forced into redundancy as it is revealed that at least 30 staff in Treasury will be made involuntarily redundant.
30. Breaks a promise not to grant permanent residency to people arriving by boat by granting a visa to a least one refugee
31. Breaks a promise to amend the race hate laws
Abbott leads a men’s club who can be divided into four groups: the religious right; the corporatist deal-makers; those who resemble the American Tea Party; and the technological luddites who deny science. They are a ministry of aging men with little practical work life experience and obscure views often deep-seated in neoconservative principles. Conservative men who can speak at will about what they oppose but have difficulty articulating what it is they believe in, or when they do it is clouded in the hue of feral, often hysterical, extremist privileged morality.