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‘Gotcha’ fact checks and other important things

Diary entry 29: Saturday, April 20 2022

1 If a reputable fact-checker corrects a blatant attempt to pull the wool over the public, it could reasonably be a “gotcha moment”. The culprit has been found out telling a lie, lying by omission, gilding the lily, or simply trying to cloud the issue. “Gotcha”

Following are seven examples from AAP Factcheck of what could be called “gotcha” moments. Most fact-checked examples refute a wrong, then published and quickly forgotten, particularly by a media predisposed to self-interest or straight-out propaganda.

The culprit has achieved its purpose of misleading the public. This is not to say that Labor doesn’t also do it to a lesser extent. However, the overwhelming culprits are the Prime Minister and his ministers.

i) The claim. The Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic saved 40,000 Australian lives.

AAP Fact check verdict.

Misleading. Experts say Australia’s low death rate is due to a mixture of state and federal government policy and non-government factors.

Read more here.

To claim that you have saved 40,000 lives while at the same time your mishandling of the ordering of vaccines probably cost some is shameful.

ii) The Claim. No trees have been planted toward the coalition Government’s 2018 target of one billion new trees by 2030.

AAP Fact Check verdict. Mostly True. Around 4300 hectares of trees have been planted since 2018, equivalent to only around one per cent of the 2030 goal.

A Labor claim that proved to be a gotcha one.

iii) The Claim. Minister Dan Tehan Claimed that the Australian economy is performing better than any other country after COVID-19.

AAP Fact Check verdict. False. Australia has had a strong recovery from the pandemic, but several other countries have performed better on key indicators.

Such lies are told regularly. I shall go on:

iv) The Claim. The Prime Minister has claimed that Australia has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by around 20 per cent – more than the US, Japan, Canada, and New Zealand.

AAP Fact Check verdict. Mixture. Australia likely reduced net emissions by more than all except the United States between 2005 and 2020; however, Australia was the worst performer when comparing gross emissions.

Lying by omission.

v) The Claim. The Morrison government cut climate spending by 35 per cent in the 2022 federal budget.

AAP Fact Check verdict. Mostly True. Budget papers show a 35 per cent decline in funding for climate programs over four years, although this doesn’t necessarily account for all spending by government agencies.

vi) The Claim. The Government insists that Labor will introduce a death tax.

ABC/RMIT fact check verdict. Death taxes or an inheritance tax are not part of Labor’s current official policy platform — nor were they in the lead-up to the 2019 election. While senior Labor figures Mr Albanese and Mr Leigh may have historically indicated support for an inheritance tax in their non-parliamentary roles, both have since indicated they no longer support such a policy.

Talk about the masters of the scare!

vii) The Claim. Defence Minister Peter Dutton has claimed that Labor cut billions of dollars from the defence budget when it was last in Government.

ABC/RMIT fact check verdict. Misleading. Labor cut defence spending in two years while in office, but overall real-term spending went up while in Government.

2 The Prime Minister is facing an uphill battle to convince the electorate that he is serious about a corruption commission. Trying to present an argument that it won’t happen because Labor cannot bring itself to support his policy is a friendless argument.

3 Another observation of the first week of campaigning is that the standard of media reporting is deplorable. Of course, we have come to expect it from the Murdoch tabloids whose bias seems to have no end but is this the best we can hope for. Scott Morrison, it has to be said, is an excellent campaigner but can they at least balance that against the destruction of our democracy over the past 10 years.

But when on day one, news anchors are asking their travelling correspondents whether or not Albanese had just lost the campaign, I’m afraid they leave me somewhat breathless.

4 “The first campaign poll shows the scars of Labor’s troubled first week but still suggests they lead on two-party preferred.” Read more at The Poll Bludger.

5 On Insiders last Sunday, Marise Payne refused to endorse Katherine Deves for Tony Abbott’s former seat of Warringah. There was a time when people with views like hers were immediately dis-endorsed. But then she was personally picked by Scott.

Marise Payne also refused to enlighten us as to why Rachel Miller, a staffer in Alan Tudge’s office, is to receive over half a million dollars plus expenses after having an affair with him. And, of course, he remains in the Ministry. We are entitled to know.

6 Let’s hope that this week we will see the campaigning move to some policy debate about things that matter instead of following some immature gotcha moment of little importance.

We have to change the government to one that is indeed a representative democracy that reflects the community’s views.

I could just go on repeating all those reasons for voting this government out, recounting their dishonesty, nit-picking the Canberra gossip, cataloguing dishonesties and incompetence’s – ceaselessly doing what I have been doing and losing readers because of my passion.

But I would implore our readers to think of the future and marry science, technology, and economics to best reflect a community with a compassionate heart.

A couple of months back, a Facebook reader wrote:

“Lately, John, you’re thinking has run into a brick wall that others have built. The significant issues are not parochial, not country or city, urban or rural; they are dire ubiquitous problems that are universally threatening.”

Alas, that is true. I must redouble my efforts not to just condemn the wrongs of this vile government but to point out the possibilities the future holds for a government intent on serving the people and not themselves.

My previous diary entry: This will be a ‘gotcha’ campaign

My thought for the day

We must have the courage to ask of our young that they should go beyond desire and aspiration in a changing world and accomplish not the trivial but greatness. They should not allow the morality they inherited from good folk to be corrupted by the immorality of nefarious governments.


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  1. New England Cocky

    The Murdoch media has not written a good word about ny Labor policy since Whitlam chose to overlook Murdoch for an ambassadorial appointment after the successful 1972 election campaign supported by News Ltd, the Murdoch media.

  2. Jim Jacobsen

    Good perspective JL. Let’s continue to address the positives, focusing on the future outcomes we desire, and contrasting as you do far better than most, the actual differences between conservatives and Labor. We rely on you to fill the information chasms and black holes left by Rupert Murdoch et al, and their lickspittle henchmen/henchwomen/henchpeople (a new word?) masquerading as journalists!

  3. Harry Lime

    Maurice Payne?No wonder he’s non committal about Deves.

  4. Kaye Lee

    The cherry-picked lies from the Coalition are infuriating.

    Dutton said that Albanese “cut defence spending to its lowest level since 1938.” That was true for one year – 2012-13 when they were trying to achieve a surplus.

    What Dutton neglects to mention is that Labor’s 2009-10 figure (% of GDP) was higher than any figure produced under Coalition prime ministers Howard, Abbott or Turnbull. The Howard government spent an annual average of 1.77 per cent of GDP on defence, compared with 1.72 per cent under the Rudd-Gillard government.

    This competition in who spends the most on weapons has become ridiculous. It’s a game where the only winners are the arms manufacturers,

  5. John OCallaghan

    Another exellent assessment on the appalling political situation in this country. I am convinced we have more spivs and liars per square inch than any other country in the world……………. Maybe the corrupt Biden administration may give us a run for our money though…

  6. John Hanna

    I hear Slimo vociferously denying that the LNP are considering putting aged pensioners on the Indue card, He called it an “Outright Lie” by the labor party. Not so I have heard it has been disgussed in cabinet and generally accepted, I dare say by the IPA crowd.

  7. Trevor

    The miracle election saw a new low from Liberal strategists, with Cormann parked in a rented office in Brisvegas daily supplying the media pack with fakearse Labor policy, and then when asked by the media what this daily subterfuge meant, told the media they have to ask Labor, which of course Australia’s political media class did, with each evening news cycle leading with stories that Labor didn’t know its own policies. Labor for reasons that still evade me chose not to fight the lies spewed daily by Cormann, mostly it seems Labor’s leaders were expecting the win.

    This year MorriSCUM shows how much leading influence he had in Cormanns Brisvegas Labor attacks, as MorriSCUM leads the way with lies about all opposition to his particular style, even from within his own Government.

    Hopefully Labor can get the treasury benches cz if MorriSCUM wins then the rot of corruption will be clear for all to see.

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