Ok, let me state at the outset that I realised my tautology straight away but headings are hard to change. A tautology is when you repeat the same thing in an unnecessary way, like “past history”, “morning sunrise” or “mistaken National MP”. It is not the same thing as an oxymoron which is when you combine contradictory things like “open secret”, “deafening silence” or “calm Christopher Pyne”.
So, yes, I know that “true facts” is a tautology. If a thing is false it’s not a fact. It’s what is called “wrong” or “a lie” or “Liberal Party’s Real Solutions booklet”. “Alternative facts”, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as ridiculous as it was portrayed. After all, you can give me a fact like I’ve had too many glasses of wine and I can give you an alternative fact such as the moon is not really made of green cheese. Both things may be true. This is something that various politicians have used for ages. “We need to do something about climate change” is often countered with an alternative fact like “The economy is important” or “I want to be praised by Andrew Bolt so I don’t care about the truth.”
We saw a great example of facts and alternative facts when Leigh Sales asked Josh Frydenberg about the lack of process in awarding of the $440 million to Great Barrier Reef foundation. He replied with the alternative fact that it was the largest amount ever given for action on the reef. Yes, Josh, this may well be true. I think that’s why there’s so much concern about the process. I mean, if they’d been from some charity – apart from that IPA one – and the government had merely handed over taxpayer funds worth $1000, I don’t think anybody would have wasted breath on the whole thing. Part of the problem is the size of the donation to an organisation which had less people working for it than the AIMN has writers.
But leaving all the semantics to one side, I have tracked down the story behind the donation. And by that I mean I tracked it down just like the media did when they managed to track down all those anonymous Labor sources that told us that there’d be a challenge to Bill Shorten: I have had somebody tell me, off the record, exactly what happened. So by “true facts” I mean that this is what someone assures me happened, so I don’t need to ask the PM’s office for comment.
PRIME MINISTERS OFFICE – Malcolm and Josh are chatting. There is a knock at the door and two people enter. They shake hands and greet the PM and Minister For Energy And Environment
MALCOLM: And where are you from?
STRANGER 1: Oh, we’re from Queensland
MALCOLM: The Queensland government?
STRANGER 2; No, no. we’re nothing to do with the government…
MALCOLM: Excellent. So, what are you doing all the way down in Canberra?
STRANGER 1: Well, as we said we’re from Queensland
MALCOLM: Ah, Longman.
STRANGER 1: Sorry?
MALCOLM: Longman’s in Queensland, isn’t it?
STRANGER 2; Yes, it is.
JOSH: Definitely. you were there just the other day, Malcolm. Remember?
MALCOLM: How could I forget? Lovely place Longman. Great local member. Ok, $300 million.
STRANGER 2; Sorry?
MALCOLM: All right, $400 million. You drive a hard bargain.
STRANGER 2: You don’t seem to understand…
MALCOLM: Ok, $440 million but that’s as high as I go.
STRANGER 2: I think you’re confusing us with somebody…
STRANGER 1: Sh. Let the PM speak.
JOSH: So what were you actually needing the money for?
STRANGER 2: Fixing up the Great Barrier Reef.
MALCOLM: Oh, is that in Longman.
STRANGER 1: Well, not actually. I mean, the Great Barrier Reef is in the sea, but it’s all Queensland, eh?
MALCOLM: Of course. Josh, draw up the press statement and get these people the money as quickly as you can.
JOSH; Yes, Prime Minister.
Mm, why did the phrase “Yes, Prime Minister” give me a feeling of deja?