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The relief of being relieved of a liar

(This is an update of a piece I posted in November 2014).

Wednesday September 16 2015.

ABC News: We asked how you felt about Malcolm Turnbull replacing Tony Abbott as prime minister and the response was overwhelming. The morning after the challenge almost 25,000 readers told us their mood and one word stood out – relief.


“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.” Tony Abbott, August 22, 2011

Every time Abbott lies to the citizens of this country we become increasingly disaffected, and not only from our Prime Minister, but from the institution he represents. Abbott has normalised the discourse of lies. He has taken the dishonesty of politicians to a whole new level. We barely expect anything else from him, and from his fellow politicians. Under the leadership of our mendacious Prime Minister, we have increasingly abandoned hope of fairness, straightforwardness, belief and trust. Our Prime Minister doesn’t think we are deserving of the truth.

One of the many unpleasant effects of being lied to is that the liar insults and patronises me by creating a false reality that I have to inhabit, until I discover I’m the victim of deception.The liar denies me the right to know the truth, a serious offence against me, because truth is something no one has the right to deny me.

Whether it’s on a personal or a political level, lying to me signifies the liar doesn’t consider me as entitled to the truth as is he or she. This infantilises me, is disrespectful to me, and denies me the knowledge I need to make informed decisions about my life. There’s little more insulting than being lied to, kept in the dark with lies of omission, and intentionally misled because the liar doesn’t consider you capable of handling the truth, or is acting entirely in their own self-interest because you knowing the truth will in some way threaten them.

The Prime Minister of our country, Tony Abbott, has never made any secret of his ambivalent relationship with truth. There is his notorious assertion that nothing he says is “gospel” truth unless it’s written down.

There’s his prescriptive declaration that “It is better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.” While this isn’t necessarily an endorsement of lying, it is a ruthless and callous prescription for relationship with one’s fellow humans. It recommends that one do that which one desires, and if it backfires, apologise, but it isn’t necessary under the terms of Abbott’s prescriptive to negotiate with or communicate intention to others, prior to taking an action. This has a similar effect to lying, in that it assumes an inferiority of some kind on the part of another that doesn’t require Abbott to enter into an equal, respectful relationship in which another’s opinions and wishes count for the same as his own.

We have a liar for a leader. When the lies start at the top, there’s little hope truth will ever see the light of day. Abbott is leading us into an abyss of normalised deception that will damage every one of us, because when dedicated liars are in power, the country will inevitably lose its way.


It makes perfect sense that relief is the feeling described by so many after Abbott was relieved of the prime ministership earlier this week. There is little more psychologically disturbing, both personally and politically, than living life under the pernicious influence of a liar. The toll this takes on individual and collective well-being is often not recognised until the experience is over. Abbott trashed the unspoken social contract that allows civilised society to prevail over anarchy and chaos: most of us will, to the best of our ability, strive to be truthful to one another.

We will not, as did the former Prime Minister, adopt dishonesty as a way of being and publicly justify that choice. Once a person has admitted their penchant for and comfort with lying, it is not possible to establish or maintain a healthy relationship with them. While all politicians lie to some degree, as does everyone, Abbott made the lie the foundation from which he attempted to govern.

We are well rid of this lying little man. There was not one issue on which we could trust his words. In itself, this creates a climate of fear and apprehension in the country, as the worst kind of uncertainty prevails. What we most value in one another, what we most take for granted in our society and without which we will crumble, the will to truth, was contemptuously dismissed by the country’s leader as counting for nothing.

Good riddance to the liar.

This article was first published on No Place For Sheep.



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  1. Kaye Lee

    I too felt an overwhelming sense of relief but it is quickly being replaced by a sense of trepidation.

  2. Jexpat

    Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

  3. Tony Wood

    All true.
    But it wasn’t just Abbott who was lying.
    It is the whole of the LNP.
    And if they don’t go back and correct the lies then they will just build on them.
    It’s the party that’s corrupt.

  4. Ross in Gippsland

    Tony Abbott?
    Wasn’t he the one who ………. it’s on the tip of my tongue, just give me a moment.
    No, can’t remember him.

  5. Troy

    On Norfolk Island Abbott stripped away our democratic government so he became in a way ‘king’, with no accountability, no representation, no State or Local Government to protect us (we don’t vote in Australian elections). When Norfolk’s government held a vote on his plan before our government was dissolved 70% of the island voted to choose their political future and not go ahead with Abbott’s plan. Abbott just ignored it and I have even heard his minister Jamie Briggs say that most of Norfolk Island people are on board. Can Turnbull turn this kind of lying and contempt for people around, lets hope so but we will see.

  6. john victoria

    Lnp still have no credibility, need a massive cleanout top to bottom and at least back to original principals.

  7. Bronte ALLAN

    For a so-called “Christian”, Tony Abscess was a world-class liar, teller of untruths & a speaker of misleading comments–boy will I miss him! NOT!! My only wish now is that Malcolm Talkbull does not exhibit the same traits. Sadly he is a politician & and a Liberal so he already has two black marks against him.

  8. gangey1959

    Here’s a song about ‘tony rotten’.
    Not quite gone but he’s all forgotten.

    Piss off back to england you slimy lying pommy bastard piece of excrement.

  9. RosemaryJ36

    I still maintain that the ability to confess and then go and do it all over again is at the root of the problem

  10. Kevin Kowlessar

    He got his Daughter a scholarship,on some Liberal deal. He got paid for all his keep fit bike riding at the Tax payers expense. He showed us the public what True Liberal thinking is all about . He has shown us what the real agenda of a politician is all about. Then he calls the National card and expects my children to die for his lies in the line of his lies. he Puts our soldiers on the battle field on a LIE.He doesn’t even understand That America is selling Arms to ISIS and willingly puts yours and mine children up to fight them. Well done Tony you are a bigger $ coin than me. Tony ?Tony ?Tony?

  11. Wayne Turner

    YAY Tony Lying Idiot Abbott is gone.

    NOW we just need this whole Liberal party gone,because they ALL went along/agreed with Abbott’s LIES and crap policies.Talking of crap policies – These Libs have stuck with them.We now just have Malcolm Abbott as PM – Speaks better and more intelligent (Seriously who isn’t?).But with the same crap policies and same crap supporting cast.

  12. Wayne Turner

    It’s clear Malcolm Abbott totally sold out on what he believes for the leadership.Dropping his real policy views,and sticking by the LNP and Abbott’s dud policies

    Will the REAL Malcolm Turnbull please stand up? Or stand down.

  13. jim

    Once we Aussies used to say “i just cannot stand for lying” thats all gone aided by rabbit and the LIEbrial Party, the biggest problem is that we have the MSM and Murdoch the biggest Liar, doing the Liars work, where will this all end? thanks for the AIM at least.

  14. leonetwo

    Of course, Turnbull never, ever lies………

    Same old, same old. Meet the new boss, just like the old boss. The Liberal Party should choose a new name. How about ‘Lies ‘R Us’?

  15. leonetwo

    Consider this, if you believe a politician’s religion influences the way they think and act. Turnbull is a Catholic. He was raised Presbyterian, converted to Catholicism after marrying Lucy. He takes his religion seriously and attends mass regularly. When he was facing the Abbott leadership challenge in 2009 he consulted a Jesuit priest, as did Abbott and Hockey.

    If you believe that Abbott deliberately lied, knowing his sins would be cleansed through confession and penance, then Turnbull, too will be able to lie his way through his time as PM and have it all washed away by the same process.

  16. randalstella

    On his reassurances to his pack of monstrous gangsters, Tony Turnbull is already worse than Malcolm Abbott.
    He has destroyed the NBN. Now he hands the River Murray over to the National ‘not a joke’ Joyce, to destroy that.
    Prediction: he will smirk all the way through it. . Bring back the thug. As even the public were uncomfortable with him, that was a very big plus.

    On his own presentations, it looks as if there is now a complete psychopath in charge of a bunch of loonies. He has to feed environmentalists to them, or they will turn on him.

  17. silkworm

    Unlike Abbott, Turnbull is not a complete sociopath. Turnbull is a narcissist, but a highly functioning one. He lies without conscience, but he knows and cares what intelligent people are saying about him. Unfortunately for Turnbull, he is in the grip of the Fascist right-wing, and cares also what they are saying about him. He’s made it to the top. Where to now, Malcolm?

  18. randalstella

    How is it ‘unfortunate for Turnbull’? Does he look out of luck? Who’s in whose grip?
    I don’t want to argue with you over pop psychology but the present incumbent is much harder to deal with in terms of conscience and the truth. He looks unflustered because issues of the truth do not seem to bother him. They certainly bothered Abbott, repeatedly.
    The means in which the NBN was trashed as a universal provider of highest quality service for everyone required a liar above the plane of usual liars. And a very stupid electorate.
    I am saying how Turnbull appears to me, how he behaves in public. It is not a diagnosis.
    But presently he is much worse for progressive politics than Abbott. The context is an irresponsible feckless public.

  19. eli nes

    turnbull is prepared to give us copper and get us to pay for his fibre that qualifies him as a slimy liar.
    The rabbott,as opus day, never lied all catholic women i know believe that no matter what is presented to the contrary.
    The positive is his…. i’m thinkimg, still thinking, help anyone?????????

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