A. In my view Tony Abbott still wears the crown of the greatest liar ever to have soiled the plush red carpets of the House of Representatives. However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, depending on his eventual time in parliament, might just take his crown.
I have written much on the subject of lying. In 2013 I wrote a piece titled “Being conned with bullshit” in which I said:
“There was a time when Australians didn’t like being conned.”
“Don’t listen to him, he’s a con artist, my folks would say.”
I can vividly remember that phrase. As a teenager we seemed to apply it to everything. We sort of instantly knew when someone was bullshitting.
Now it seems we have lost that instinct and are now a gullible lot ready to believe whomever and whatever we are told.
It was just three months ago that I wrote another piece in which I said:
“When did all this lying start? Well I could go back to Reagan and his decision to allow the fundamentalist churches into politics and perhaps bring it up to date with the ascension of Trump.
We have inherited it from US politics that “The press is the enemy of the people.”
Lying in Australian politics has reached an unprecedented level. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet took lying to such depths in the recent election that it is not disingenuous to suggest that government under Morrison no longer has a moral compass or understanding of truth.
Undoubtedly the rise of the right, imported from the United States, has been the major and most worrisome aspect in the decline of the Liberal and National Parties where once small ‘L’ Liberals had residence, but have now been purged.
Neo-liberalism/Conservatism – aided by an inheritance of lying as a political weapon from the US – infiltrated the Coalition and gave birth to extremism.
Lying has and will probably always exist but it reached its zenith during the 2012 Presidential Debates. I watched all of the debates and in the first I agreed that Obama under-performed and was under-prepared.
But in the background of that first debate I had the sneaking suspicion that he was rocked by all the lies Romney was telling. He recovered in the other debates and won them easily.
In that campaign Romney told an astonishing 2000 provable lies and lying has now become part and parcel of American politics.
Whilst I would credit John Howard with modern political lying, people of my vintage could easily take it back to Robert Menzies “Reds under your beds.”
The Prime Minister cons the people by saying he believes in the science of climate change, but his actions don’t back his words.
But the greatest con of all is when Rupert Murdoch says:
“I have always been a firm believer in providing the public with choice and access to quality content – it was the driving force behind the launch of Sky, Fox News and, particularly, The Australian”.
That then brings me to the point of this article, which is to highlight the fact that lying by our current Prime Minister is as much an everyday affair as were Tony Abbott’s.
You can tell lies for many reasons. Sometimes it’s because you want to cover things up that would otherwise embarrass you. That being said, they must have a lot to be embarrassed about.
On that basis let’s take a look at his current spate of lying.
An SBS journalist asked Morrison why it was racist to question Gladys Liu’s connections to China but not racist to call Mr Dastyari ‘Shangahi Sam’.
“I didn’t use either of those phrases. He bluntly answered.”
It was a blatant lie. He had used the term 17 times.
He had accused Labor of being racist toward Ms Liu, which is but another lie.
B. Next we have this from the Bernard Keane writing about the infamous National Press Club in February of this year.
“It takes real effort to stand out as a liar in Australian politics, but Scott Morrison yesterday lied so egregiously and offensively it was a triumph of political bulls–tery.”
They were into the Q&A part and talking about Financial Services.
Thus, that difficult issue didn’t arise until the Q&A part of proceedings, when the Prime Minister was asked about Labor’s plan to try to extend parliamentary sittings. Morrison responded with a lie of Trumpesque proportions.
C. The Morrison government kicked one of the biggest own goals on record criticising the Labor Party’s electric car policy when the Liberal’s own policy is basically the same.
D. Worth a look: Government Lie List – May Weeks 1 & 2 – twitter.com.
Here’s a some sample via Sally McManus:
About Scott Morrison’s litany of lies. 1 in 3 of new jobs are second or third jobs for someone already in insecure work or needing a second job because the wages in …
E. And this headline in The West Australian on 12 April this year from Gareth Hutchens:
“Scott Morrison caught out lying about Labor again.”
“Mr Morrison claimed overnight that Treasury had costed seven of Labor’s policies and the costing’s showed Labor would be the highest taxing Australian Government on record.”
F. Mark Butler in the SMH (and other publications) regularly complains about Morrison’s and Minister Taylor’s unvarying lying on climate emissions and meeting our Paris commitments, but seriously, what I am trying to fathom here is the why of it.
It is of course not just confined to Australia. It is a worldwide phenomenon that has resulted in the profession of politics now being synonymous with untrustworthiness.
Why are Morrison and his government telling so many lies? The only thing I can think off is that they are trying to hide their own incompetency. Their own stupidity.
You wouldn’t have to if you were a government of integrity, transparency and honesty.
I keep on asking myself why it is that the Australian people are so satisfied with liars to lead us.
One thing we do know is that politician’s lies undermine the very democratic processes that enable them to function. In doing so they deny the public an informed consent and you cannot have a democracy without it.
What is truly astonishing though is the assumption that they believe it is OK to lie and they know that we are silly enough to believe them.
It is such a condemnation of our political discernment and the reason why we treat our gift of the right to vote so badly.
And to think that at his early morning briefings surrounded by his many advisers, all they can discuss is what lie to tell to get him out of his or the governments latest mistake.
You would be forgiven for thinking that modern day politicians feel they are immune from speaking truth. That somehow they were above truth and the need of it.
The most intriguing thing though is that a man so obviously devoted to his faith can so easily lie.
Former US President Jimmy Carter was a most devout, righteous, Baptist. I wonder what he thinks of the current crop.
How utterly dispiriting it is when the hearts and minds of our politicians are so utterly corrupted by this virus of political lies, but more demoralising it is that ordinary people catch the same infection.
Let me finishing by quoting psychologist Tahnee Schulz:
“For a pathological liar, lying is innate. There’s a genetic predisposition, perhaps activated by trauma, personality disorder, or brain injury. Compulsive lying is more a learnt behavior. A pathological liar is a compulsive liar but a compulsive liar isn’t necessarily a pathological liar.”
Just what classification the Prime Minister fits into I’m not sure but he can certainly tell some biggies.
My thought for the day
Has Australia ever elected a Prime Minister so ignorant of truth, so ill informed of science, so oblivious of the needs and aspirations of women and the needy – so out of touch with a modern pluralist society?