The thing that struck me most about Julie Bishop’s latest homage to herself was the revelation that 17 of her colleagues lied to her.
No-one goes into a leadership spill not having canvassed the numbers. Obviously, some of them are not very good at it – whoever thought Peter Dutton was a good idea needs help – but Bishop was very specific – she thought she had 28 votes wrapped up which should have been enough to see her through to the second-round ballot in the three-way contest.
As we all know, that support evaporated when the secret ballot actually took place with Julie only securing 11 votes. Her colleagues had lied to her. Whilst it may not be quite on the scale of how bad Hilary Clinton must have felt losing to Donald Trump, Julie was humiliated. She lost to a man who none of the electorate wanted, as polling showed, and who the bookmakers considered a very long shot as betting odds demonstrated.
Whether she would have been a good leader or not is debatable but not the point. She has chosen to leave after being betrayed by her own people.
Bishop should not have been surprised because lying has become second nature to the Coalition.
Whether it is Angus Taylor telling us emissions have come down, or Peter Dutton telling us people will be kicked off hospital and public housing lists if sick refugees access urgent medical attention, or Josh Frydenberg telling us that tax concessions are mainly utilised by poor people, or Barnaby Joyce every time he opens his mouth about anything, the lies just keep on coming.
For a democracy to function successfully, there must be checks and balances on power. Government decisions must be transparent and accountable. The electorate must be told the truth so they can make informed decisions about alternative approaches to address the challenges facing the nation.
Increasingly, the Coalition have removed our right to know and the protection for those who would inform us. They have deliberately sought out non-government agencies to produce reports that say what they want them to (the Minerals Council and the Properties Council are hardly independent advisors) yet refused to release genuine reports which might reveal what is actually going on.
How many times have we heard “it’s a report to government, not by government” as an excuse not to release reports they have paid for with public money? But even the reports by government are suppressed when it suits them. The Auditor-General has been silenced regarding defence contracts. The Agriculture Minister is sitting on the State of the Forests Report. NBNco demanded police raids when the truth was revealed about their lack of progress and cost blowouts.
Media have been threatened on a number of fronts. Have you noticed how articles always come with the caveat now that “The X news site is not suggesting any wrongdoing by any of the corrupt people we have just written about”. Certain topics will land journalists in gaol and whistleblowers who go to the media will be persecuted and prosecuted.
The ABC has been under continual attack and now, in a misguided attempt to appease those who accuse them of bias, give voice to a disappointing array of crackpots and allow politicians’ lies to slide by rather than offending them and being completely cut off.
Isaac Asimov once said “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
We are now in the territory of an election being fought on my lies are better than your truth.
PS Special mention should go to Matthias Cormann whose appalling judgement and despicable disloyalty should disqualify him from being trusted by both his colleagues and the electorate.
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