It seems that in politics telling lies, fabricating half truths and being wilfully misleading is now par for the course in this game of crazy golf.
Trump has turned it into an art form ; that is, if you are not much of a connoisseur when it comes to modern art : which reminds me of the true story of an attendant at the Museum of Modern Art in New York who had to inform a group of people staring transfixed at an item adorning a wall that, what they were looking at was in fact an air conditioning duct. That may or may not be a true story : you be the judge.
In the past couple of weeks, our new prime minister has been flailing around looking for a policy or at least something to wack Bill Shorten over the head with. Inevitably it has come down, once again, to the dire consequences facing Australia and possibly the planet if Labor gets into office and does away with negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions currently available to those who engage in churning existing housing stock at the expense of new home buyers. It seems to add some weight to Scomo’s argument to paint these property speculators as mums and dads and he frequently mentions nurses, ambulance drivers, police and other such ordinary people. So far he has stopped short of suggesting that homeless people will have their investment opportunities curtailed by not being able to negatively gear their investment portfolios.
Morrison fails to mention that the Labor proposal will only affect existing housing stock and thus should encourage investors to put their money into building new houses and apartments which is generally seen as a good thing. He also overlooks the fact that the Labor policy will not impact existing negatively geared investments : they call it grandfathering.
They also put their fingers in their ears and sing lah lah lah whenever they are referred to the observations of their former Treasurer Joe Hockey who, in a moment of economic clarity, which coincided with him leaving the parliament for a cushy job in the USA, told us that :
“negative gearing should be skewed towards new housing so that there is an incentive to add to the housing stock rather than an incentive to speculate on existing property.”
So, lying also takes the form of obscuring or rewriting historical fact to suit changed or changing circumstances or to fit in with the narrative that you have chosen for the day. Malcolm Turnbull was recently on Q&A embellishing his legacy and throwing in a couple of curved balls for antiquity :
You know, think of the big social reforms, legalising same-sex marriage. I mean, what a gigantic reform that was, I was able to do that … I legislated it, right? So I delivered it.
Well, that was a big fib because, as we all know, Malcolm allowed a noisy group of nut-jobs to divert the parliament from its proper course and forced upon a reluctant nation a postal plebiscite. A plebiscite that would not be binding on the parliament, would cost a fortune and the financing of which was never approved by our parliament (in fact it was knocked back in the Senate) and which proved to be socially divisive.
A big fib can have consequences if spotted by a dogged fourth estate of investigative journalists and media hounds dedicated to uncovering the truth (and I wouldn’t wish to imply that this is the business model of Fox, Sky-after-dark or news Corp). Richard Nixon found this out and he was ultimately brought down over a fairly innocuous raid on the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate Hotel in Washington. The raid was engineered by the Republicans for the purposes of planting listening devices which it was hoped would assist the party and Nixon in achieving their re-election ambitions. What brought down Nixon was not the raid but his emphatic denial of any knowledge of the scam and subsequent revelations that proved he had been fibbing.
Secret raids, listening devices, political advantage, doesn’t that ring a bell and bring us closer to home ? Our very own Watergate involving government authorised bugging of the Timor Leste parliament offices for political, commercial and territorial gain during the reign of John Howard and his Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer. When the scam became public the leading protagonists covered themselves in a blanket of national security and once again, stuck their fingers in their ears and sang lah lah lah in unison. To add a very Australian twist to the story, they decided, in an act of cold-blooded retribution, to prosecute the whistleblower and his lawyer for telling the truth and are currently trying to have the matter heard in secret : national security and all that dont’cha know !
Then you have what Winston Churchill referred to as Terminological inexactitudes which are still lies but are dressed up in their Sunday Best so as not to look like a bare-faced lie. For instance, former President Clinton said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky”. Well, that may well have been technically true depending on how you define sexual relations but it’s obviously not an excuse that, say for instance, Barnaby Joyce could have volunteered, is it ?
In recent days we have observed a sudden need for a show empathy towards asylum seekers on the part of former hard-nosed immigration ministers. Purely it seems for political purposes as the mood of the nation changes and as a federal election beckons. This, after five years of name calling with racist overtones directed towards Illegals, requires some deft gymnastic backflips in what amounts to the weaving of what the Brits would call a tissue of lies and a veil of deception.
The spinmeisters for former Immigration ministers Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton have been working overtime : yes, they do still get penalty rates as political advisers !
So, we have been told by Peter Dutton that :
“I think in the Immigration portfolio, you are defined by Nauru and Manus. Now, I didn’t put any people on Nauru and Manus, I got people off. I would love to get everybody off there tomorrow — if I could have brought them to Australia in a charter flight overnight I would have”.
and from Scott Morrison, who said he has :
… cried ‘on his knees’ for the plight of asylum seekers held offshore.
Speaking at a lunch organised by suicide prevention service Lifeline, Mr Morrison said he had prayed for the children still on Nauru, confirming there were still just over 30 on the Pacific island.
Morrison said he had prayed for the children in detention on Nauru and he hoped it had made a difference.
I don’t know about you, but my heart bleeds for these two men who have been so deeply conflicted between their obvious compassion as Christians for refugees and asylum seekers and the demands of their political antennae. If I was either of these two blokes and if I know anything about Christian Gods, I would be watching out for thunder-bolts from above after those elaborate and breathtaking fabrications.