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Tag Archives: Broken promises

“This election is all about trust.”

In December 2012, in an interview on Sunrise, Tony Abbott said “It is never a good thing for a government to break fundamental promises and this government has broken its two covenants with the Australian people: no carbon tax and a budget surplus. They’ve broken both of them. You just can’t trust this mob.”

Fair enough. They were silly promises in the first place and Labor did a pitiful job of explaining the need to maintain deficits in the short term, and that our carbon pricing mechanism was actually an ETS with a temporary fixed price period.  They needed to talk about the necessity of creating jobs and the economic consequences of inaction on climate change.

Instead, this was the wedge that Abbott used so successfully to bring Gillard down.

In August 2013, Tony Abbott said “I want to be known as a prime minister who keeps commitments.”

In his victory speech, Abbott reassured us

“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.”

So let’s have a look at a few examples of Tony et al saying what they mean.

At his campaign launch Tony said

“Within 100 days….The NBN will have a new business plan to ensure that every household gains five times current broadband speeds – within three years and without digging up almost every street in Australia – for $60 billion less than Labor.”

More than a year has passed and the Coalition’s NBN truly is in no-man’s land with Telstra holding Turnbull, the NBN effort and the entire Abbott Government over a barrel.  Turnbull is still happy to keep fighting the election with endless reports supporting the Coalition’s increasingly untenable NBN policy.

NBN Co’s Strategic Review makes it very clear that the company could deliver an all-fibre FTTP network to Australians for just $15 billion more and only three years later than the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix project. This infrastructure would be vastly superior to the Coalition’s version and would not need to be upgraded. The review also showed, rather than costing the government anything, the investment will bring a return.  Turnbull is being deliberately misleading in describing this as an expense when it is actually a capital investment.  We are still waiting to hear the result of the Michael Vertigan-led cost-benefit analysis.

While this may be an example of a Minister determined to get his own way who is now on a learning curve on how difficult business negotiations can be in such a large scale project, that can’t be said of other commitments which have been abandoned, though Tony will tell you that you misheard him.

In December last year, Tony told Andrew Bolt

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.”

He was referring to his backflip on school funding. So let’s look at the promises that were made.

“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.” –Tony Abbott, interviewed by Sabra Lane, ABC Radio’s AM, 5 August 2013

“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

And it’s not just on school funding where Abbott is trying to tell us we misheard him.

In May last year in South Australia, the defence minister David Johnston gave this doorstop media conference on the future submarine project.

“DAVID JOHNSTON – The Coalition today is committed to building 12 new submarines here in Adelaide, we will get that task done, and it is a really important task, not just for the Navy but for the nation. And we are going to see the project through, and put it very close after force protection, as our number priority if we win the next Federal Election. Over to you Steve.

MARSHALL – Can I just say I am very grateful for Senator Johnston coming to South Australia and confirming the Coalition’s policy, to build 12 submarines here in South Australia. It’s fantastic news for South Australia, it’s fantastic news for the people who work in the defence sector in South Australia, there has been a big cloud having over their heads for an extended period of time, the Government announced this in 2009 and as Senator Johnston said has done very little since then, we still have no clarity about the time frame, the cost for the project from the Government whatsoever, but what we have got today is a real focus from the Opposition, this a major priority for us as the Federal level and we are just so delighted here in South Australia that Senator Johnston has been able to come along and confirm that for us today.”

Sophie Mirabella was appointed to run the show.

“Once she has straightened things up, implemented a few changes and bullied or cowed the workforce, her operation will be made to float (or sink, when necessary) on their own merits, without any assistance from taxpayers. And to make a profit doing so.”

Then on October 23, Peter Hendy, member for Eden-Monaro, rose to say in Parliament

“The coalition promised at the last election that the new submarine project will be centred on Adelaide. Any more specific commitment than that would have been grossly irresponsible in defence strategy terms. We need to ensure that the best capability is purchased, not simply have an industry policy propping up one region of Australia. I think that whatever decision is made there will be plenty of contracts and jobs for South Australia. This can be done without jeopardising the overriding priority of good defence policy.

I note that the Leader of the Opposition did the exact opposite in his recent speech on the topic. His speech, promising amongst other things that, under Labor, the submarines would be built in Adelaide without first doing the proper due diligence harked back to the protectionist, xenophobic unionism that we all thought had been relegated to the past—obviously, not.”

And then we have the Renewable Energy Target.

On 19 June 2013, Greg Hunt said on Sky News:

“We agree on the national targets to reduce our emissions by five per cent by 2020. We also agree on the renewable energy target. And one of the things we don’t want to do is to become a party where there is this wild sovereign risk where you are, where businesses take steps to their detriment on the basis of a pledge and a policy of Government. And we’re very clear that that’s not what we want to be.”

From a doorstop interview on 29 September 2011:

“QUESTION: Is the Coalition committed to a renewable energy target?

TONY ABBOTT: Look, we originated a renewable energy target. That was one of the policies of the Howard Government and yes we remain committed to a renewable energy target. I certainly accept that the renewable energy target is one of the factors of the current power system which is causing prices to go up but we have no plans to change the renewable energy target.”

Now we have Ian McFarlane attempting to convince us that the Coalition is keeping their promise to stick to the 20% RET but, due to falling demand, the actual amount will be reduced by 40%.  This, he says, is not a reduction and he played the “baffle them with numbers game” on Insiders this morning.

Unfortunately for him, the government website explaining the RET legislation is very specific on this matter.

“The RET policy is often expressed in terms of a percentage target, specifically to ‘ensure that at least 20 per cent of electricity is generated from renewable sources by 2020’. However this is translated into a fixed GWh target in the legislation in order to provide a clear goal for industry and certainty for market participants. The target has been expressed in GWh since the original Mandatory Renewable Energy Target scheme commenced in 2001.

The Government agrees that the existing 41,000 GWh Large-scale Renewable Energy Target and annual targets should be retained. A change to the target (either an increase or a decrease) would create instability in the renewable energy industry, impact on the risk premiums required by lenders and investors, and decrease the likelihood of any target being met.

The Government also notes that modelling conducted for the Review found that reducing the target would not result in a material reduction to average household electricity bills and would not justify the damage to investor confidence that would be caused by such a change.”

And then we have the car industry.

On July 28 2013 Tony Abbott said

“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.”

On 21 August 2013, he assured us that “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.”

In his campaign speech he said “the motor industry will be saved from Mr Rudd’s $1.8 billion tax on company cars.”

Instead, not only did he give up almost $2 billion in revenue from stopping tax rorting, he wasted no time in putting the nail in the coffin for car manufacturing in Australia.

And the lies didn’t stop after the election. During the by-election for Kevin Rudd’s old seat the Medicare co-payment was a hot topic.

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.”

-Doorstop interview, Sydney, 20 February 2014

We also had continual promises about no new taxes.

“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

Instead we have the high income earners levy, the Paid Parental Leave levy, fuel excise indexation, and the medicare co-payment. We have also seen funding to the States slashed by $80 billion in an obvious attempt to starve them into being the ones to ask for a hike in GST.

And who could ever forget…

“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

This list is by no means exhaustive but I am already well past the attention span of most readers. I will close with some wise words of advice from our current Prime Minister….

“Look, if I tell the kind of massive fibs that this government has told, I would deserve the most condign electoral punishment.”

-Tony Abbott, Interviewed by the Grill Team, Radio Triple M, Sydney, 25 February 2011

I never said that . . . and if I did I didn’t mean it

“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.

 

When Is A Magic Pudding Not a Promise? When A Silver Bullet Mixes Your Metaphors.

Image by 'That's Life'

Image by ‘That’s Life’

Recently elected, Secretary of Moyhdiddy Turf Club, Mr Hoe Jockey, has released the report from the Independent review that he had commissioned from his father-in-law, Mr Point, respected businessman, Mr Lot, and the well-respected ex-mayor, Ms. Amanda Simpleton. The report has concluded that, in fact, the Moyhiddy Turf Club will not be apply to save enough ink in printing costs by simply changing its name to MTC which was one of the platforms on which Mr Jockey, and the president, Mr Tiny Habit were elected leading some people to accuse them of breaking their pre-election promise. In an exclusive interview, Mr Jockey explains to me exactly why this is wrong:

Me – So is this a broken promise?

Mr Jockey – Absolutely not. Our main promise was to get the finances of the MTC back in order and we intend to keep that one.

Me – When exactly?

Mr Jockey – Look you have to understand that the previous administration left this club in quite a mess. Even though it was clear that other clubs in the area were going broke and folding, they continued to  spend and run race meetings.

Me – Yes, but your club survived and is actually doing quite well. 

Mr Jockey – We’re in debt! Don’t you understand? If we’d saved money by not running any race meetings last year, we’d be much better off.

Me – But wouldn’t there be a lot of people – you know trainers, strappers, jockeys, even catering staff – who wouldn’t have a job now?

Mr Jockey – But the debt. It’s ballooned out to almost as much revenue as the club turns over in a single race meeting.

Me – Weren’t you aware of the debt before you ran for office?

Mr Jockey – Of course, we’d been warning about it for ages.

Me – So wasn’t it irresponsible to make some of those other promises? Like not sacking the course racecaller.

Mr Jockey – We didn’t like the horses he was suggesting had won – the private racecallers all thought that my horse had won.  Besides, we haven’t sacked him. We’re just reviewing which part of the car park he can call the races from and whether he actually needs binoculars. 

Me – Well, what about those other promises. You know, free membership, increased prizemoney, abolition of the surcharge to fix bit of the track that floods, the campaign to get the Melbourne Cup brought here and so on…

Mr Jockey – Can I just stop you here? Our absolute priority is getting the club’s finances in order. 

Me – Yes, but I’m just saying that you promised all these things knowing you’d need to break them. 

Mr Jockey – We’re not breaking any promises. We keeping our main promise to return our budget to surplus.

Me – And when are you planning to do that?

Mr Jockey – Sometime after the next election.

Me – So you won’t be keeping any promisess until after the next election?

Mr. Jockey – Hang on, hang on, we’ve already stopped the people camping illegally in centre of the track.

Me – Yes, but you did it by shooting at them.

Mr Jockey – We were concerned that they may drown in the swamp.

Me – Just on that, how are you going to fix the track if you remove the surcharge that was going to help in draining the swamp.

Mr Jockey – We didn’t believe that the surcharge was going to fix anything. We were going to pay the local companies not to put their polluted water in the swamp. 

Me – The companies that your Independent Committee run?

Mr Jockey – I’m not sure. What are you suggesting?

Me -So what happens if that doesn’t stop the track from flooding?

Mr Jockey – We’ll just tell people not to ride on that part of the track.

Me – But isn’t fixing the track a priority? I mean, you can’t run race meetings without a track.

Mr Jockey – You can’t run race meetings with a budget that doesn’t balance.

Me – Actually you can. You just need to make sure that you have a plan for ensuring that the debt doesn’t get too big. On the other hand, your plan to make the public responsible for running their own race meetings doesn’t seem like it’ll work to me.

Mr Jockey – We support personal responsibility. The age of the committee running race meetings is over.

Me – So no apology for all the confusion you seem to be causing?

Mr Jockey – Confusion?

Me – Well, you insist that the number one promise is getting the budget in surplus, but you can’t even tell us when you’ll do that!

Mr Jockey – Let me just remind you again, we have inheritted from the previous administration an untenable black hole and I intend to fill it.

Me – I think that would be an excellent idea, but could put  the rest of your colleagues in it as well?

At this point, I thought it wise to conclude the interview as Mr Jockey was muttering rather angrily.

Tony’s Workplace Contract – And Why It Needs Renegotiation.

Contract law          Considerations

The second element necessary for contract formation is consideration. A promise will be enforceable at common law only if it is supported by consideration or made under seal. Consideration can be anything from money to a promise to undertake or not undertake a particular act, even a mere peppercorn could suffice.  “Consideration” in this context means that a promise is given in return for a promise received.

Ok, like much of the junk mail, I suspect that many of you put this in the recycling without reading it. Certainly, I doubt that more than a handful of you kept it.

Photo:  Liberal Party of Australia

Photo: Liberal Party of Australia

But as Abbott said that we shouldn’t trust anything he said unless he put it in writing, I thought that it might be good to have the only thing that he’d actually put in writing.

 

Some of you probably have an excellent understanding of contract law. Mine is limited, but I suspect that this isn’t a legally enforcable contract for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it doesn’t spell out the options if the Liberals fail to honour the contract.

However, let’s take them at face value and examine how they’re doing so far.

1. A Stronger, Diversified Economy. Now, I’m no lawyer, but it does strike me that any attempt to sue them for breach of contract here would be doomed to fail because there’s simply four words none of which are a verb. What about “A Stronger, Diversified Economy”? We’d like one? We used to have one? Germany has one? No, there’s plenty of wriggle room here, even before they start to argue that the job losses are part of diversifying the economy and the reduction in wages is a sign of the economy’s strength!

2. Carbon Tax Gone. Hasn’t happened yet. The Liberals, of course, will blame Labor and The Greens, but didn’t Tony say that he’d have a “No excuses government”? Ok, while it hasn’t happened yet, I am prepared to believe that they’ll do it when they can. I just can’t help notice that there’s nothing in the contract about replacing it with Direct Action. Or sticking to the renewable energy targets.

3. End the Waste and Debt. Hockey’s decision to abolish the debt ceiling certainly doesn’t look they’re confident of ending government debt any time soon, but maybe it’s the ending of all debt. Maybe they’re going to abolish my mortgage by legislation which forgives all debt. If not, perhaps they should have been a little more specific. As for the “waste”, in “The Little Book of Big Labor Waste” we had sixty items listed as Labor Waste. One of them was the NBN, so if you agree that was a waste then they’ve made a start, but I’d like to know if they’ve ended the rort of Treasury getting milk for their tea. One of the others was “Jobs for Labor Mates”. With the appointments of Peter Costello, Amanda Vanstone, Sophie Mirabella and host of other ex-Liberals to government positions, I suppose they’d argue that it isn’t a waste when you appoint a Liberal. No, they’re clearly on dodgy ground with this one.

4. Build Modern Roads and Improve Services.  Mm, one presumes that no government would build “old-fashioned” roads. As the statement didn’t specify how many roads, it’s hard to call them out on this, unless they build less than two. “Improve Services”? Which services? And how is improvement measured? Have services “improved” if they don’t cost as much? Have they “improved” if they’re more efficiently managed? And by efficiently, could that mean reduced in quantity. I guess they’re safe here whatever they do. Actually, the syntax of this whole “contract” varies from point to point, with some points simply adjectives and nouns, while others, such as this one, could be construed as an order meaning, “You will build roads and improve services.”

5. Securing Our Borders With Proven Policies. I guess this one is their big tick item. People said that they wouldn’t be able to turn back the boats because Indonesia wouldn’t cooperate. And Tony has said that he doesn’t need Indonesia’s coorperation. We have a right to protect our borders, even if that means towing boats all the way back to Indonesia who clearly don’t have any rights when it comes to protecting theirs. My only observation is that it was suggested that we’d buy boats from people in Indonesia – will these be the boats that the navy is putting asylum seekers on? After all, we have to run out of them eventually and wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy them second hand? But again, the language of this one is present tense, which implies an ongoing process which means that it never reaches a point where one can judge success or failure. “The borders aren’t secure yet, but that’s all right because we’re still securing them.”

6. Two Million Jobs Within A Decade. Ok, the first point is that we won’t be able to judge this by the next election – or the two after it – so it’s pretty meaningless on one level. It’s also a pretty small target over a decade, even if one assumes that they meant what most people will infer. After all, it simply says “Two Million Jobs Within A Decade” and given their form with Holden and SPC-Ardmona perhaps it’s actually two million jobs gone within a decade. Another case of “we’ll keep the promise we made, not the one people thought we made”! 

So, as you can see, this contract certainly needs a bit of re-working now that Tony actually has the job. I suggest a few clauses with more specific penalties for breaches. Then of course there’s the matter of a “consideration”. What was the “consideration” in the Liberals’ Contract With The Australian people?

That’s right, whichever way you look at it: None whatsoever.

Broken Promises

No matter how they try to spin things in their favor, the undeniable fact is that Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott lied about their plans for Gonski. How can I prove they lied? Because nothing has changed between now and before the election, when they agreed to a bipartisan approach to Labor’s Gonski educational funding model. They have not been forced to make a deal with a minor party to hold power. There has not been some huge budget black hole discovered that changes the funding commitment by the previous Labor government. The same person who made the promise to implement the Gonski reforms as Shadow Minister for Education, is now Minister for Education. This backflip is not about changed circumstances. This is about ideology around privilege, rich independent schools and the innate advantage that Abbott’s government thinks rich children deserve to have over poor children who go to publically funded schools. Gonski, the great equaliser, threatened this ideology. So Pyne and Abbott have lied. And they’ve wasted no time in doing it – which proves that they’re arrogant enough to think they can get away with anything, and they have total contempt for the people of Australia who voted for them, expecting them to be true to their word on Gonski.

As much as I could write about this huge porky of a dishonest, bald-faced, down-right scum-bag lie for this entire post, I’m not going to do that because that’s not what this post is about. What this post is about is our society, and particularly our media’s and minor party’s obsession with broken promises. When in actual fact, we should care little about broken promises. We should care little about ‘holding politicians to account’ to deliver what they promised. Did you hear that GetUp? What we should really care about, and what we should be passionately trying to defend is policy which is in the community interest. If someone promises to do something terrible, and then back-flips and does good instead, let’s congratulate them. Let’s not act like 5 year olds and point the finger and say ‘they lied, that’s bad’ without actually looking past the words and deciding whether the outcome is judged as positive or negative for us all.

Let me give you an example. The Abbott government should be judged harshly for lying about the Gonski education funding model. They have shown through their backflip that their support for this policy was a vote winning maneuver and nothing more. Yet, there are plenty of other policies of the Abbott government which I would support them lying about. They promised to ‘turn back the boats’. Turns out they can’t do this. But if they had come out after the election and said ‘we’ve decided it’s unsafe to turn boats back, so we’re not going to deliver on our promise to do this. Sorry about that bigots, but we have to do the right thing’, I would applaud this. If they had taken over government and suddenly decided it was time to become responsible human beings and take seriously the warnings of climate scientists, I would have applauded them. If they lied about cancelling the Carbon Tax, sure, I would be pretty miffed that they won an election by mobilizing the selfishness of our most petty and immature Australians to win government, but as long as I ended up with a price on carbon, I would be happier than I would be to living in a country without one. Lie away! Save the planet! And if Joe Hockey was intelligent and brave enough to admit that the revenue from the Mining Tax is not something that can be raised by increasing taxes to our lowest income earners, and therefore broke his promise about getting rid of this tax, who wouldn’t respect this decision? Do you see what I’m getting at? It’s fine to be outraged with Pyne for lying about a policy which had huge benefit for our community. But if politicians lie so that they end up doing something good instead of evil, we shouldn’t be ‘holding them to account’. We should be shaking their hands.

I know you saw this one coming, so here it is. The obsession with Julia Gillard’s Carbon Price lie falls into the category of a ‘backflip which should be welcomed’. But the immature media, the screaming Liberals, the far too easily conned electorate, never gave the policy enough thought to get past the ‘she said she’d do one thing before the election, and then did something else! JULIAR!’. No matter that the policy was actually a carbon price, not a carbon tax, which taxi drivers were not going to pay – just companies who profit by polluting the atmosphere. No matter that the Carbon Price policy was just a transition into an Emissions Trading Scheme, which Gillard did promise to implement before the election. This wasn’t even an official backflip. It was a half-pike at best. No matter that the only reason Gillard didn’t do as she promised was because of negotiations with the Greens to form a minority government (she wasn’t expecting a hung-parliament). No matter all of these things, Gillard was crucified for lying, when really she should have been congratulated for doing the right thing. The Carbon Price was in our community’s interest, whether huge numbers of our community wanted to admit this or not.

So yes – let’s maintain the rage about Pyne’s lie – but only because he is taking something from us that was hugely beneficial. But if Abbott’s government chooses to lie about any of the Liberal’s other policies, which are quite easily judged as being bad for our country, let’s not discourage back-flips. Let’s hold people to account for doing something in our interest, not for ‘sticking to their word’, a word that was used to manipulate scared and petty people into doing the wrong thing for everyone. Let’s encourage people to act as adults. And let’s act as adults ourselves and hold politicians to account for doing the right thing. Full stop.

A Liberal Defence

We’re Liberal – With The Truth!

Ok, it’s time for some balance on The AIMN. There have been far too many anti-Government posts and I’m taking it upon myself to defend the actions of Abbott and company.

Let’s start with the clear bias being showed by certain media outlets. The ABC have tried to embarrass the Government by revealing the Powerpoint that suggested that we had been spying on the Indonesian President. It was ABSOLUTELY wrong of them to publish this. Stories about what Australian Intelligence is doing should NEVER EVER be published. Reponsible media outlets have frequently surpressed stories that aren’t in anyone’s interest. How much have you read about the TPP, or the Leveson inquiry? As some have suggested, this borders on treason. The second point with this, of course, is the timing. Clearly, the ABC and The Guardian conspired together to wait until after the election. This story should have been published months ago when Labor was in power.

Of course, the media does have a set against the Liberals. As Andrew Bolt points out in his blog, there have been a number of articles in the Fairfax papers critical of members of the Abbott Government. Headlines like “Hockey blows $3b hole in budget” and “Barnaby Joyce says that rugby league expenses were official business” are clearly designed to create a negative impression on the reader. Nothing Barnaby says should be reported unless it’s first cleared by one of the adults.

(The ABC in particular keeps trotting out shows with ex-Labor ministers, and they even tried to make you see Julia Gillard in an affectionate light, with their program, “At Home With Julia” – a sit-com purporting to show Tim and Julia at home. But will they have something like “Hard Times With The Boys” – a sit-com supposedly showing what a ficticious Abbott is doing at the police training academy? I very much doubt it!)

We promised to stop you having to worry about boat arrivals being the front page of your newspaper every day. I don’t think anyone can accuse us of failing to deliver on that promise. But the media are upset because now they actually have to find other things to write about, but why should the Abbott Government get the blame for that?

Then there was the furore over Hockey’s request to raise the debt ceiling to a mere five hundred billion dollars. The way some of the media reported it, you’d think that debt was a problem in this country. Fortunately, many economists and other experts were quoted as saying that we don’t even need a debt ceiling. Unless, of course, Labor is in power, because they put things on the credit card and we have to pay it off, by borrowing more money, so they should have one, but a much lower one. We’ll only be using the increased borrowings to pay off the debts that Labor will be racking up over the next two or three years.

As for the recent attempts by the press gallery to suggest that the recent statements by Christopher Pyne on education were somehow a broken promise, I find it incredible just how stupid some of the media can be. What Pyne said before the election was that they had a “unity ticket” on Gonski and as we all know, just because you have a ticket, that doesn’t mean you have to go to the show. Some people might give their ticket to someone else. Or sell it. There is no compulsion for you to use your ticket and the Liberals can hardly be blamed if the media is too stupid to recognise that.

As for the statement: “you can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”, it’s easy to see that by “your school” what was meant was overall funding and not specifically your particular school. To try and argue that “your school” means “the school you send your kids to” is the sort of tricky word play that we’ve come to expect from Shorten and his mob, and really you shouldn’t be sucked in by it.

Finally, we have the inconsistency on complaints about foreign aid. First the bleeding hearts want us to help out other countries, then they complain when we give Sri Lanka a couple of boats to help save people from ending up in a place like Manus Island or Nauru. Not that there’s anything wrong with these detention centres. In fact, by the time we may even lease them out as holiday detentions once all the boats are stopped.

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