What’s a promise or, more specifically, an election promise? Is it a guilt-edged set-in concrete commitment made during an election campaign? What if the circumstances change after the campaign making it impossible to fulfil? Is a promise a legal commitment? Is it nothing more than just a proposal?
Tony Abbott said this about promises before the 2013 election:
“It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their Government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards.”
That is an unambiguous promise that one couldn’t take any other way than how it is written or spoken.
“The day before the 2013 election, Tony Abbott said there would be no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no changes to the pension, no changes to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS,”
And it is recorded in Hansard:
“…because his Government gave the false story the day before the election when the now Prime Minister of Australia said to the Australian people, ‘There will be no cuts to the ABC’.”
So, it is noted that Tony Abbott knowingly lied to the people on the eve of the 2013 election.
Paul Keating legislated tax cuts before the 1993 election but scrapped them soon afterwards when he recognised the budget was in great difficulties. The circumstances had changed.
Many believed he lied, but others thought it was an appropriate course of action.
Now we have another income tax promise. We have already legislated tax cuts for high-income earners. (Voted into law by both major parties.)
I believe the Prime Minister will abandon tax cuts for high-income earners once he has exhausted proof of the Government’s trust. Logic must prevail over emotion.
Then he can say:
“… we have reconsidered this tax break in the light of current knowledge and however obligated we find ourselves; the giving could never match the benefits of not doing so.”
Whatever criticism the Government gets, and there would be an avalanche of it, it is, however, the right thing to do. Transparency and honesty would be crucial. Broken promises are a hard sell and require exceptional circumstances. Therefore, words of explanation are essential.
They are not due for a couple of years, and by then, the Prime Minister should have built up a trust profile that will enable him to put a fair case for them to withdraw the legislation.
But let’s take a “so far” look at Albanese’s promises in the six months he has been in power. There is now but one week remaining of the parliamentary year, and some other promises remain on Labor’s list for 2022.
Although not as vast as the reforms of Gough Whitlam (now 50 years ago), one could draw similar parallels.
On the agenda are the Anti-corruption bill, or national ICAC, and the Government’s industrial relations reforms which the opposition describes as “extreme.”
The National Anti-Corruption Commission legislation will pass through the House of Representatives containing the “exceptional circumstances” clause for public hearings. It will be up to the Senate to change the clause that the major parties want but the average voter doesn’t.
You can almost hear them shouting, “we wanted a commission with teeth” now, we will not listen to or see any evidence.
Politicians will want to avoid any visible scrutiny of themselves. Especially if the “exceptional circumstances” clause is retained. But this will still be good legislation. It will have had a few teeth extracted and replaced with a reputational denture that protects the standing of witnesses and the accused fitted. One the Labor Caucus and the Coalition wholeheartedly supported anyway.
The rise of narcissism and inequality and the demise of compassion illustrate the state of the world.
Australians voted in tune with the temper of the nation on May 21. The two major parties suffered diminishing support that separated the boys from the men or, should I say, girls. This result ended with a three-way split reflecting the voting public’s mood for change. Teals and a scattering of independents were the third part of this three-way split, and all were progressives.
The progress made by Anthony Albanese and his Hawke-like team has been exceptional. From righting international relations, setting in train a decent Climate Change and energy policy, and last week, lowering the price of electric vehicles.
At the recent International Trade Union Conference held in Melbourne, Albanese told those in attendance that:
“… there are always those who say that any improvement in workers’ pay, any improvement in the status quo will see the sky fall in.
They say it every time and they are wrong every time.
And we will push ahead like we do every time.”
Philip Lowe, The Governor of the reserve bank, disagrees, saying that any wage improvement will only add to inflation.
With the Greens onside, it should be able to get the legislation passed before Christmas. David Pocock, the Australian Capital Territory independent senator, supports multi-employer bargaining, and the Government is willing to give him the amendments he’s pushing for. Although it’s hard to get anything out of him other than “I need more time.”
The promise, the commitment for our first nations people to have a voice in the Parliament, requires a referendum. History tells us they are challenging to win, significantly if the opposition is offside.
It is known that Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has a bitterly divided party room on the subject, and the only way out will be a free vote.
Indeed, we will, in this referendum debate, get a glimpse of whether Dutton has achieved his desire to become a more empathetic leader. Or will the long-standing, deep-seated conservative overtones of racism have their way?
There won’t be any funding for the yes and no cases. Why? Because you wouldn’t fund racist dogma on the no side.
The left of politics is concerned with people who cannot help themselves. The right is concerned with those who can.
By the time Christmas rolls around, the Government will have delivered on all the promises with some urgency behind them, including territory rights on voluntary assisted dying. The last of the big ones before Australia takes its annual sojourn will be the Government’s answer to spiraling energy costs.
Conclusion: By any test, this Government has done more in six months than the previous one achieved in a decade.
My thought for the day
Under Albanese, at least truth has survived the worst of it.
Like what we do at The AIMN?
You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.
Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!
Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.
You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969