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Lying does work: Just ask any Liberal Prime Minister

Sometimes I allow myself the indulgence of thinking I know a lot. Then I realise that in the totality of things, I know little. One thing I am certain of however, is that there are known facts in the world because science proves them to be so. That is the truth of it.

I also know that humility is the basis of all intellectual advancement but it is truth that enables human progress. Can you imagine a world without truth? I cannot.

That is why I question everything. What I see, what I feel, what I hear and what I am being told until I understand the truth of it.

But the recent past election showed the power of using lying as a political tool. How destructive it can be. How damaging to a fragile multicultural pluralist society. Indeed, how easy it is to adopt the art of lying as a habit.

Central to the art of lying is that it has become so commonplace, so easy to justify.

Society, or sections of it, has so lowered the bar for the need for, truth or fact, that they require little of it.

Now, I would be less than honest if I didn’t illustrate some dishonest examples within the Coalition. The avalanche of lies started with John Howard and the now disgraced former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Climate change, according to Abbott was crap and a socialist plot. He denigrated renewable energy. His Chief of Staff Peta Credlin later confessed that it was all just a political ploy.

Conservatives were found out telling lies about the cause of climate change but it made little difference. Even the cause of the South Australian blackouts became a target for lying. They categorically stated that it was caused by the introduction of renewable energy, where as it was as simple as towers collapsing during a major storm.

Then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sought to lie about the value of his donation to the Liberal Party. Who cared?

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 are 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 this election that it is not disingenuous to suggest that government under Morrision 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 underperformed and was underprepared.

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.”

This scare campaign was used endlessly during his tenure of office with much success even though there was no grounding in fact but it was enough to keep him in office.

The trams and buses I frequented as a young boy had posters from one end to the other depicting the communist hordes invading our country. Our newspapers were a flood of the worst of communism. Our picture theatres carried western propaganda on there silver screens.

Using vigorous anti-communist slurs and scare campaigns the prime targets for Menzies unashamed propaganda were the powerful trade unions and Labor itself.

It went on for decade after decade.

In the modern era Tony Abbott blatantly and dishonestly sought to convince the population that we were under the threat of terrorism and through both legislation and mouth tried to corner us into believing it was the truth.

Daily he made pre planned visits to compliant businesses to spread his lies about the carbon tax.

Barnaby Joyce then in the Zenith of his oral exaggeration suggested that a Sunday roast was going to cost $100.

Pitifully, without fact evidence or reason he relentlessly attacked, the “carbon tax”.

After all it was going to wreck the Australian economy. We now know that it was all part of his plan to become Prime Minister.

When talking about terrorism he always tried to personalise it. His gutter tactics were never further than a heartbeat away.

“ISIS is coming to get us. And you personally,” he would proclaim.

Tony liked to frighten friend and foe alike. His life records his aggro. Frightening the shit out of people was bread and butter to him. He held the country on permanent alert and revelled in it.

He believed in lying and fear as legitimate political weapons and wielded it unapologetically.

Amidst all this fear he managed to create an untrue budget crisis. One where all hell was going to break loose and destroy the country, as we knew it.

Everything is Labor’s fault became the catchcry for all that ever went wrong.

When he attained the Prime Ministership there was no budget and Joe Hockey soon after was telling the country how he had saved us from disaster. It was nothing but shrill politics from Abbott’s demented mind. The 2014 budget proved it beyond doubt.

Now let us outspread our thoughts to earlier times. To a time when Philip Ruddock as Immigration Minister decided that those seeking asylum weren’t actually doing so because he classed them as “illegals”.

Never in their entire term in office have they had the courage, or the dignity to call these people seekers of asylum

Indeed, never at any time in their scare mongering did they have the dignity to treat these folk as human beings because they wanted to use them as examples.

They we so bad, so inhuman, so violent that they would deliberately throw their own children overboard if it meant saving their own lives.

They made up their own truth and left nothing for one’s imagination when describing these people.

And brutal has been the way in which they have managed asylum seekers. From Ruddock to Morrison and now Dutton they have lied, vilified and demonised asylum seekers. Morrison has even encouraged his party to be more destructive with their damnation. “Praise the Lord.” He denied the claim but members of his own party recall it.

If they murdered truth along the way, who cared?

I have every right to call them the masters of scare. The longevity of the one against asylum continues today even though many have become fine citizens.

We cannot erase from our history the fact that John Howard, together with Bush and Blair used barefaced lies and tricked the world into believing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

And the whole world knows the consequences of that scare campaign.

In Australia we are frequently reminded by the right about terrorists and of course Muslims. They hate them.

Anything warrants a scare.

In more recent times Liberal “anti everything backbenchers” conducted a scare campaign against the “Safe Schools” legislation.

We have been told that Labor’s negative gearing proposal would wreck the property market and during the election campaign told that a Labor/Green alliance would be one of chaos. Yes, it’s true.

In 2019 we have had Tim Wilson’s scare about franking credits. Negative gearing, death taxes, and many more.

At the very core of conservative capitalistic individualism screams the rights of the individual. Yes, at a time when what the world needs most are collective approaches to solve our problems, people they still proclaim individualism an the answer.

Truth has become a rare commodity. I am talking about a truth based on factual evidence and sound arguments.

Politicians now say that only what they say is the truth when Blind Freddy knows it isn’t. Yet many fall into the cesspool of fallacy.

Some people now factor in what they believe to be untrue. Others because of allegiance accept in blind loyalty. Yet others reject it because they know what they are being told is untrue.

However, the acceptance of lying in society generally is of great concern and shows that our standards are badly slipping.

Ministers in the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments also seemed to have carte blanche to tell as many as they like. Peter Dutton and others to this day continue to lie with monotonous regularity.

Truth is the victim. In the first instance the best way to turn the profession of politics on its head in this country and create a new democracy would be to demand that politicians and the media tell the truth.

“Honesty isn’t popular anymore. It doesn’t carry the weight of society’s approval it once did”.

In politics, truth is something that gives policy and ideology a foundation.

Something upon one can rest one’s argument. If the words you use to substantiate your argument are lined with truth then it is more difficult to argue against it.

You can still be wrong but be satisfied that truth was at the core of what you were saying.

Words of course, are the same. They also require truth otherwise they are without meaning. Without truth hey shape no discourse, no truth, and no debate.

Without truth in words the ability to communicate the seemingly endless aspects of human emotion successfully is taken from us.

That’s why I conclude that words are at their best when they are accompanied by a factual truth of what they want to convey.

As I have said in the past, the rise of the right has brought with it a new political language. One that has not yet been classified because it defies any normal understanding of whether truth has a place in it.

Just listen to Trump’s midweek rally speech and you will hear the truth of everything I have said.

But let’s pause for a moment and take a look at the broader picture and ask ourselves what is a lie in general and what constitutes political lying.

Many would say that lying is just a normal part of society’s intercourse. The lies I’m talking about, the blatant ones like when the liar intends to deceive or mislead or the liar believes that what they are ‘saying’ is not true. We call people who use these three principles blatant liars.

Lies, when it comes to the manipulation of the population have proven to be the most advanced tool we have.

You see, one way or another we all live by belief and it can be manipulated.

I’m not talking here about white lies nor any other category except the lie constructed to deliberately hurt others or manipulate society for nefarious reasons.

When politicians collectively or individually over a long period seek lie for their own individual benefit or that of their parties then the lie only serves to denigrate the liar, and show contempt for the voter’s intelligence.

Sir Walter Scott said this about lying:

”Lying is probably one of the most common wrong acts that we carry out (one researcher has said ‘lying is an unavoidable part of human nature’), so it’s worth spending time thinking about it.

Why is lying wrong?

There are many reasons why people think lying is wrong; which ones resonate best with you will depend on the way you think about ethics.

Lying is bad because a generally truthful world is a good thing: lying diminishes trust between human beings: if people generally didn’t tell the truth, life would become very difficult, as nobody could be trusted and nothing you heard or read could be trusted – you would have to find everything out for yourself and an untrusting world is also bad for liars – lying isn’t much use if everyone is doing it.”

When it was revealed that the Coalition knew that a report would say that renewables were not the cause of the SA blackouts the conservatives had to tell lies on top of lies to justify the first one.

My thought for the day

Despite a tendency inherited biologically by all to lie. Truth in politics and society in general matters enormously.

It is not a trivial matter in any democracy.


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  1. Peter F

    Good article, John. There was one election during the ‘REDS UNDER THE BED’ period that Menzies won the final seat ( Moreton, Jim Killen) on COMMUNIST PARTY preferences.

  2. Terence Mills

    And in the meantime Peter Dutton is on to those pregnant rape victims on Nauru who were “trying it on” by seeking abortions in Australia and then changing their minds and deciding to keep their babies.

    Shame on these women don’t they know that Obersturmführer Dutton will not tolerate rape victims who change their minds ?

    And on Manus Island a man who had been trying to seek medical care has set himself alight. The man who had both physical and mental health issues after five years in detention had been sick for some time but had consistently been denied appropriate medical care by bureaucrats in the Department of Home Affairs in Canberra.

    I’m so proud to be an Australian this morning !

  3. Awashwithcolour

    Good article about the liars in charge.
    The thing l find disgusting is that these bald faced liars are “good Christian men” and yet everything that they espouse is based on lies. The hipocracy is very evident. I really dislike this style of political discourse because one has to really look for the truth everytime one of these deplorables open their cake holes.
    The fact that the msm repeat these lies verbatim is sloppy and lazy journalism and is designed to decieve us into accepting the lies as truth. We’re being bamboozled by the lot of them. If it wasn’t for independent media l think many of us would be as ill informed as those unintelligent fools are who watch and listen to commercial tv and radio and also those who read the murdochracy.

  4. Baby Jewels

    None of this would have any affect in a smart, educated, well-informed population. Which we are clearly not. And politicians’ lying is only half the story, we have an 85% compliant press, who broadcast the lies as truth. What hope have we got?

  5. New England Cocky

    Excellent article JL. We have learned to never trust a Liarbral Notional$ misgovernment.

  6. Neil Sills

    Great article… but please the word is spelled “ascension” and “their” is the possessive pronoun, not “there”.

  7. Henry Rodrigues

    Its deplorable and criminal that politicians, especially the hypocritical god fearing ones, lie and lie constantly. That’s not an earth shattering revelation, but what is truly depressing is the number of so-called ‘wise’, down to earth, hardworking people who only “care about their families and their environment” can accept the lies in exchange for few paltry pieces of ephemeral fleeting benefits, and then when times get bad, console themselves that they were only looking after themselves and their families.
    The greedy self entitled gray haired bludgers, (I actually met one of those a few days ago), feel no regrets whatsoever. And still they want more.

  8. John Lord

    Peter F. I so remember that election. Hasluck also had a remarkable wit and his exchanges with the knock about Fred Daly were hilarious.

  9. Patricia

    AwashwithcolourJune 22, 2019 at 7:58 am

    While I take your point about bare faced liars being “good christian men”, christianity and religion is based on a lie so it is not surprising that these “good christian men, and women” spend their lives lying to get what they want.

  10. Matters Not


    won the final seat ( Moreton, Jim Killen) on COMMUNIST PARTY preferences.

    That’s the urban myth that persists. The truth is a bit more complicated as Andrew Bartlett points out.

    But when let loose, they are likely to continue. People believe what they want to believe.

  11. Deschamps

    Great article and it amazes me that we believe their lies to be true which doesn’t give me much hope for our future.

  12. Judith

    I recently worked with a group of well-to-do year 12 boys. They appeared to consider lies and deceit as a badge of honor. Something to aspire to despite their religious tuition.

  13. wam

    We trolls do so look forward to saturdays, lord, for our dose of truth as you see it.

    I wonder if you would find it true that 100% of educated, non-fundamental christian, Australians believe climate is natural and it has been changing for billions of years? How many realise how a greenhouse works? How many know the glaciers are rapidly melting. How many are capable of tying these two together?

    If I believe that bob brown’s adani trip was the prime factor in labor performing so badly in Queensland then that is my truth. If you disagree then am I lying? If you say nothing are you agreeing?

    In the real world being honest is a dangerous activity for a politician because the consequences of misinterpretation by the media, often deliberate, has enormous consequences eg birthday cake, juliar or a free trip to china, especially when a loud active spinner, like the rabbott, can get the morning show autocueists excited with controversy.

    It would be truthful to admit that to be of average intelligence is not afforded to 50% of Australians and most of them have faith in what is true. Such mindless faith can be used to make truth into lies.
    You really need to watch rashomon, lord. It will put your thought into context and show that truth is what you believe and honesty is a worthwhile virtue that can change with evidence.
    People like scummo, the rabbott and andrews have truths that cannot be challenged by evidence of other truths so they are free to call whatever they like lies. Until a politician’s religious truths are open to public questioning, lies will prevail as hidden truth.

  14. Josephus

    Social lies are essential to society, when uttered out of perhaps misplaced kindness. This article is however about self serving or venial ie bought lies. Then there is wilful ignorance, as in shock jock denialists.
    Lies about coal: Now there is approved a huge coal mine in NSW to add to the several to be set up in Queensland. Why? The UK and Germany can retrain their miners – why can’t we?
    Refugees: The medical care in our off shore camps is non existent , the sanitation disgusting, the brutality of the guards well known, the rip offs and corrupt deals obvious, as despite the millions paid to eg Paladin the detainees remain in mouldy, torn tents or bunks in windowless shipping containers, and so it goes. But the staff in those places are muzzled. Why do most of them comply? In the 40s the guards were silent too, in the slave and extermination camps.

    Fear of communism: that can hardly be used today. In Hungary pure fruit juice drinks are replaced by Coca Cola, while a racist dictator plasters the Metro with grinning, nasty portraits of Soros the founder of Universities. Why?

    WHAT did the diggers die for if similar atrocities are still deliberately done to unarmed, weak humans shut up in barbed wire enclosures? Murderers rarely get life, yet these people have fled death and now live in stink, without hot water or decent toilets, even shoes sometimes. Without hope of escape for most of them.
    So Medivac is denounced as an invasion- the shame of it all. Add now the latest self immolation attempt.
    IS there no limit to the hate and racism? Greer argues that such persistent hate of others is based upon the suppressed memory of massacres and land theft here.

  15. David

    It is impossible to take anything said in a publication that will not oppose the arbitrary jailing of Julian Assange seriously. It is the cant of silly capon -suburbanites drifting towards the endless dotage of old and young that typifies this country and its indolent “lefts”.

  16. Zathras

    Even before the days of Crassus and Spartacus in ancient Rome, the game is to create an enemy and put yourself forward as the only solution. It’s the oldest political and religious trick in the book.

    It seems to help some people sleep better at night knowing the supposed boogey-man is being kept at bay.

    Unfortunately each time it’s played we need to surrender a bit more of our personal freedom to allow the appointed saviour to help us.

  17. John Lord

    Neil Sillis. Sorry about the spelling. I must have missed it in my final read.

  18. Duncan Crawford

    All well and good, but this equally applies to the soft, fluffy, butter wouldn’t melt my mouth left as well… Think Mediscare, Keating, and pretty much every politician that has ever existed.

  19. Wayne Turner

    Sadly depressing,and so true article John.

    Of course it’s easy to LIE non-stop as the COALition,when you have a MSM that are your promotional wing that never call it out,and in fact endorse the LIES.Along,with a large section of the population who are non-thinking,ignorant,and extremely gullible.

    While if Labor tells an alleged LIE,the hypocritical COALition,and their MSM present it as the WORST THING EVER and like it’s the FIRST LIE EVER TOLD eg: The Julia Gillard carbon tax LIE,that wasn’t even a LIE.

    Sadly,the mediaocracy continues….

  20. helvityni

    My Lutheran upbringing must have been very influential; even today I find it pretty hard to lie, I prefer not to say anything rather than tell lies…

    One workmate told me once: You SAY aloud ,what others THINK….so today I try to soften the truth-telling with a smile….

  21. Andrew J Smith

    Not surprising when the Libs subcontract policy making, tactics and strategy to US GOP which in turn had been taken over by corporates, conservative Christians, white nationalists, gun lobby etc.

    According to theologian Chris Hedges a majority of white evangelical Christians expected political leaders to act ethically e.g. don’t lie, when Democrat, but not when Republican aka Trump.

    In the US white nationalists promote both Christian ‘values’ and eugenics, with the latter being ignored by ‘pro-life’ conservative Christians, maybe because they are bigoted themselves?

  22. totaram

    Duncan Crawford:
    (1) Mediscare is not as much a lie as you think. It was on the IPA web-site that they wanted Medicare dismantled -something the Liberals have been trying to do ever since it was created, and with Howard’s compulsory PHI they are halfway there already.

    (2) Given how the coalition ALWAYS operate, not using lies to beat them is a mistake on Labor’s part. You need to fight fire with fire. Given that lying in an election campaign is not illegal in Australia, it must be used to advantage.

    (3) A bigger mistake by Labor is not understanding how the Coalition will always manage to use lies to turn any policy proposal into a scare campaign.

  23. David Bruce

    I wonder how many of the lies the lnp disgorges are written on cue cards by asio and asis? They seems to have done very well with increased funding and new legislation, as well as their brothers in arms in the rest of potato head’s portfolio!

  24. Jennifer Demas

    John Lord

    It’s more about the corporate grip and manipulation Gore Vidal, “The corporate grip on opinion in the US is one of the wonders of the western world. No first world country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity much less dissent” also add Lance Morcan, “manipulating the media is akin to poisoning a nations water supply it affects all our lives in unimaginable ways” and the rest is history, ever widening social inequality, viscerally angry, prejudiced (creed, other or colour) and divided against each other, disengaged, and disenfranchised from the political sphere and so very ready in support of Trump’s attack on the democratic institutions and the 4th estate, and would you believe over there their journalism/journalists are not half as indentured or as bereft of some journalistic intellectual rigor or integrity here go figure.

    Over here, a certain media tsar and moneyed corporations edict the how, what, where and who and is almost absolute, recall how the tsar and moneyed corporation railed against any semblance of a 21st century Australia, NBN FTTP, price on carbon, educating the workforce for the 21st century, better deal for the natural resources, as they also put the knife on things that held us together and all hard fought gains (economic reform blah blah) a fair and equal Australia and any semblance of journalistic intellectual rigor or integrity folded like a snot fill tissue to their edict it was toxic divisive (colour, creed or other), exhaustive and fear megaphone ramped to the nth, print screen radio and everywhere anywhere, Australian, political waters well and truly poisoned and the manipulated voter caved, today no NBN FTTP, no price on carbon, no better deal for the natural resources and no educating the workforce for 21st century, so does anybody really still believe a certain media tsar hoovered up print screen radio everywhere and elsewhere for a fair equal informed people and a strong social fabric really?, come on. This from Lord Longford, “On the whole I would not say that our Press is obscene. I would say it trembles on the brink of obscenity” and that was even before a toxic media tsar came set up camp.

    In closing, Australia, yes we’ve been lied to, to the nth but here is the doozy, the 4th estate let it slide, played the dead ball through it all, totally bereft of any semblance of journalistic intellectual rigor or integrity as we all the while actually trusted the 4th estate, how dumb, big mistake huge mistake. It’s not that hard in hind sight, to connect the dots Australia, please just remember, the banking scandal over years not months, institutional child sexual abuse for ever and a day, ongoing wages theft, working poor, insecure work, the from the gutter down the drain pipe into the bottomless sewerage farm etc etc as they also well and truly snookered Australia out of any semblance of the 21st century. Believe it or not, for if not for ACTU, not the 4th estate, Australia would have been the mini version of US or some under developed country, viva ACTU viva and thank you for your valiant effort against the vicious and ferocious onslaught of the media tsar and moneyed corporations and make no mistake they’re not done yet as for any semblance of journalism/journalistic intellectual rigor or integrity that’s long since left the paddock its all about the perfected to art of manipulation and the corporate grip and they honed it to the nth we’re not even aware of the manipulation, go figure. If not for us how about for future generations as past did for us before its way way way to late. Viva ACTU viva social media, hook up get connected Australia and yes they will sneer, denigrate etc etc social media.

  25. Jean

    Great article! Can I add – the LNP didn’t just lie – they made up policy for the ALP! Think ‘Death Tax’!

    More interested in talking about the ALP and being negative, but then they didn’t have any policies themselves anyway – oh I forget! They did bring in the crazy 5% home deposit at the 23rd hour!

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