“In a week or so the governor-general will swear in a new government. A government that says what it means, and means what it says. A government of no surprises and no excuses. A government that understands the limits of power as well as its potential. And a government that accepts that it will be judged more by its deeds than by its mere words.” – Tony Abbott’s election night victory speech in September 2013.
It turns out the hardest part has been working out what they are actually saying. I didn’t say that, I was misunderstood, they cut me off, I was misquoted, I think you’ll find what I actually said . . .
The Gonski backflip was a prime example.
“But Andrew, we are going to keep our promise. We are going to keep the promise that we actually made, not the promise that some people thought that we made or the promise that some people might have liked us to make. We’re going to keep the promise that we actually made.” –Ten Network, The Bolt Report, 1 December 2013
Rewind . . .
“I can promise that no school would be worse off under the Coalition.” – Joint doorstop interview with Russell Matheson, Camden, NSW, 15 July 2013
“As far as school funding is concerned, Kevin Rudd and I are on a unity ticket. There is no difference between Kevin Rudd and myself when it comes to school funding.” –Joint press conference with Christopher Pyne and Alan Tudge, St Andrew’s Christian College, 2 August 2013
“In order to ensure funding certainty, we will honour the deals that the government has so far made and we will match the offers that the government has so far made in terms of funding.” –Interviewed by Sabra Lane, ABC Radio’s AM, 5 August 2013
“Mr Rudd’s scare that the Coalition is going to cut money out of education is simply false.” –Joint press conference with Christopher Pyne and Barry O’Farrell, Penrith, 29 August 2013
Christopher Pyne, who became education minister after the election, also said this in August: “You can vote Liberal or Labor and you will get exactly the same amount of funding for your school.” -2 August 2013
Neglecting the fact that the Liberal party is part of a Coalition, Tony Abbott also said he would not be doing any deals with minor parties to form government.
“I won’t be doing deals with independents and minor parties.” -Press conference, Parliament House, Canberra, 4 August 2013
Now as far as I remember, unlike the Liberal party, the Labor party did not form a coalition to form government. They negotiated with the Greens and Independents on certain legislation.
As soon as Abbott took over, Hockey negotiated with the Greens to lift the debt ceiling by $200 billion. They agreed to abolish it altogether in return for increased transparency around the true position of the government’s finances. Either we misheard or they have a different idea about what “true” means.
Then we had the coup d’PUP where Clive got rid of the mining tax. To achieve that personally desirable outcome, all Clive had to do was agree to the government breaking its promise to not make any adverse changes to superannuation.
In February 2013, after Hockey let slip that the Coalition would be cutting the increase to the superannuation guarantee, he quickly backtracked, complaining on Twitter about being misrepresented. “What an MRRT debacle . . . Despite Govt’s failures we remain committed to not rescinding the increase in compulsory superannuation from 9-12%.” After the Nine Network had accurately reported his remarks, he followed it up with “Would be nice if Nine News had checked the facts…Coalition remains committed to keeping increase in compulsory superannuation from 9-12%.”
In May 2013, Tony Abbott promised not to make any unexpected negative changes to super and then, two weeks later, announced they were freezing the Superannuation Guarantee increase for 2 years. This has now become 7 years, but it’s Labor’s fault for not agreeing to abolish the mining tax . . . apparently.
Eric Abetz was also a victim of the media when he said on The Project that studies linked breast cancer to abortion. After the inevitable outcry at this ridiculous statement, Senator Abetz said he had been cut off before he could finish his sentence. Then he claimed that the interview was pre-recorded and it was “heavily edited” and he was misrepresented and taken out of context.
And then there was Tony telling us we heard him wrong about gay marriage being a fad.
“I’m not saying that our culture and our traditions are perfect. But we have to respect them and my idea is to build on the strength of our society and I support by and large evolutionary change. I’m not someone who wants to see radical changes based on the fashion of the moment.” – interviewed by John Laws, Radio 2SM, Sydney, 14 August 2013
A few days later, journalist Paul Bongiorno asked Abbott whether he still thought same-sex marriage was a fad.
Abbott said: “Well, that’s not what I said, Paul.”
Bongiorno: “Well, you said it was a fad and a fashion.”
Abbott: “I was having a general chat about the conservative mindset with John Laws.”
-Network Ten’s Meet the Press, 19 August 2013
Tony’s taxation talk has also been a series of tall tales.
“To the best of my recollection, there were no tax increases whatsoever in the life of the Coalition government.” -interviewed by Virginia Triolo, ABC TV’s Lateline, 16 May 2008
Virginia was quick to interject “Unless you include the GST?”
And who could forget that most cringeworthy of interviews with Kerry O’Brien about introducing a levy to pay for his paid parental leave scheme one month after saying he wouldn’t.
ABBOTT: “But the thing is I made a statement in a radio interview in February and then I think in March I made a commitment to paid parental leave. Now …”
O’BRIEN: “Which was the opposite of what you’d said the month before.”
ABBOTT: “Well, it wasn’t absolutely consistent with what I said the month before.”
O’BRIEN: “It was the opposite! One month you say no new tax, the next month you say a $2.7 billion tax.”
ABBOTT: “OK… There is a bit of inconsistency.”
-ABC TV’s The 7:30 Report, 17 May 2010
The same promises were made going in to the last election.
“The only party which is going to increase taxes after the election is the Labor Party.” -Joint press conference with Greg Hunt and Bill Glasson, Brisbane, 9 August 2013.
I don’t recall any mention of a GP co-payment prior to the election, and I do recall denials even after the election particularly during the Griffith by-election.
REPORTER: “Can you guarantee there won’t be a Medicare co-payment?”
TONY ABBOTT: “Nothing is being considered, nothing has been proposed, nothing is planned.”
-Joint doorstop interview with Bill Glasson, Brisbane, 1 February 2014
REPORTER: “Would you consider a co-payment, a means testing to help relieve the pressure on the health budget?”
TONY ABBOTT: “Obviously the budget, generally, is under pressure and it’s very important that we do what we can to fix the budget, as quickly as we can, but we’ve got to do it in ways which are consistent with our pre-election commitments. Don’t forget, I said we were going to be a no surprises, no excuses government.”
-Doorstop interview, Sydney, 20 February 2014
REPORTER: “In light of the latest scare campaign however, can’t you just knock it on the head, pull the rug out from under Labor’s scare campaign and guarantee no co-payments?”
TONY ABBOTT: “Well I think I have knocked the scare campaign on the head and again this is all the Labor Party has got.”
REPORTER: “But what would be wrong with the co-payments? Surely there are arguments in favour of it?”
TONY ABBOTT: “I’ve dealt with this issue. Now, are there other questions?”
-Doorstop interview, Sydney, 20 February 2014
The fuel excise and high income earners’ temporary increase in marginal rate would also appear to be new taxes from the government who yelled “No new taxes without an election” with a rabid crowd of Alan Jones supporters.
Before the election, Tony was a fan of the car industry.
“What I want to do is make it easier for this industry to flourish. I want to make it easier for people to get on with their lives and to enjoy driving great motor cars, particularly great Australian made motor cars.” –28 July 2013
“We have a good record when it comes to working with the car manufacturers to help them, not just to survive, but to flourish, and we will act in that same spirit in the future.” –21 August 2013
After the election . . . not so much.
Even Tony describes himself as a weathervane on climate change and one could be forgiven for being uncertain what he actually said – he seems uncertain himself.
“The argument is absolute crap . . . However, the politics of this are tough for us. 80% of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.” -Public meeting, Beaufort, Vic, circa 1 October 2009, on the reliability of climate science, reported in the Pyrenees Advocate, 2 Oct 2009, p 5
TONY JONES: “Do you still believe the science of human induced climate change is crap?”
TONY ABBOTT: “Well, that’s not quite what I said. What I said was that this idea that the science was settled was not something that I wholly accepted.”
-ABC TV’s Q&A, 16 August 2010
We all know the wrecking ball quotes Tony used to vilify the carbon tax and he was just as loose with the truth about the mining tax.
“You may not have noticed it, but every year there’s a well-respected international survey of safe places to do mining business and thanks to the mining tax, Australia has dropped 13 places in just 12 months, and as a place to do business, a safe place to do business, Australia is now behind Argentina, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, Botswana and Namibia. Now, these are all normally regarded as pretty dodgy places and Australia is now behind them as a place to do business. So, how can the Government claim to be good economic managers if that’s what they’ve done to our international reputation?” –Interviewed by John-Michael Howson and Steve Murphy, Radio 3AW, Melbourne, 15 August 2010
The Behre Dolbear Group’s 2010 Mining Survey placed Australia No.1 on the list for ‘Best Places to Invest’, having replaced Chile, which held the No.1 ranking in 2009. Australia went on to retain the No.1 ranking in both 2011 and 2012. But why let little things like that get in the road of a good story, or an enormous superprofit.
Tony assures us that Labor wrecked the economy and that the Coalition must fix up the economic disaster.
“We’ve seen [in] the last three years…an economy which has underperformed . . .” –14 August 2013
Not only had Australia maintained its AAA credit rating and relatively low unemployment rate in a global environment in which Europe and the USA had major problems, Australia had actually improved its economic situation since 2007 on most measures: GDP per capita had climbed 13%; real wages had increased 27%; household savings had more than doubled; labour productivity was at an all-time high; pension levels were up; superannuation was up; the Australian dollar was up; industrial production growth was up; foreign exchange reserves were up; the balance of trade had improved; the current account as a percentage of GDP was healthier; the government ten-year bond rate had improved; interest rates were lower.
I will finish with a few more of Tony’s quotes
“I’ve seen the disaster that this government has done for itself by saying one thing and doing another, Jon. I don’t want to be like that. I really don’t. If we do win the election and we immediately say, oh, we got it all wrong, we’ve now got to do all these different things, we will instantly be just as bad as the current government has been and I just refuse to be like that… Before polling day you’ll know exactly what we’re going to spend, exactly what we’re going to save, and exactly how much better the budget bottom line will be under the Coalition.” -Interviewed by Jon Faine, ABC Radio 774, Melbourne, 30 August 2013
“No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.” -on SBS TV on election eve, 6 September 2013
And my personal favourite
“We have well and truly learnt our lesson. The last thing we want to do is expose ourselves to the wrath of the Howard battlers.” -ABC TV’s Q&A, 5 April 2010
It appears to me that Tony has forgotten the lesson.