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When is it OK to lie? Don’t ask a politician!

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.


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  1. New England Cocky

    Our Churchianity practitioners in Federal Parliament cherry-pick the Christian principles they choose to live by according to the personal pecuniary interest that they will accumulate when they choose them.

  2. helvityni

    So Scotty, are you saying that we don’t need PM’s (you) or Governments at all, all we have to do is to sink onto our knees and pray to God, and he/she will take care of the children on Nauru, Manus, and all hungry homeless children in Oz or anywhere else…and the ones abused by our very own ‘god-fearing’ churchy people…

    I have to learn the art of praying again, I’m sure God will not mind if people with iffy knees do their praying in a sitting position, maybe even lying down…

    What worries me is that there is so much misery in the world that it might get a bit to much for God to fix it all by himself….So Scotty, could you help God when it comes to sorting OUR (Oz) problems..?

  3. Kronomex

    Scummo only has lies to fall back on regarding Labor because Shorten isn’t giving them anything that they latch onto. He’s sitting back, with a bag of chips and a beer, watching as the Lying Nasty Party continues to self destruct. As with the debacle that was Turnbull as PM, Scummo is life imitating life in his desperate need to stay leader.

  4. DrakeN

    Kronomex, you are quite correct.
    Just quietly gathering more and more ammunition provided by the present ‘government’ with which to sink their ‘ship of State’ at the forthcoming elections is a very astute decision.
    Labor will need a very large data bank in which to record their lies and prevarications, together with some clever algorithms to collect and collate appropriate material for each and every need.
    Get busy with the IT, Labor and Greens – the possibility of having a magnificent ‘Field Day’ at the expense of the NeoLiberals currently holding tenuously onto control boggles the mind.
    Mass publication of the right-wing mendacity, across all of the media not controlled by the traditional publishers, would have a huge impact on the public.

  5. phil

    Father Rod Bower is a Christian. Morrison is what I call hypo-christian – one who uses Christianity as a prop to mask bastardly and character weakness.

  6. Annette Spendlove

    Great comment phil! (@3:19 pm)
    Exactly. i love the new word – hypochristian. Brilliant.

  7. helvityni

    I like New England Cocky’s new word “Churchianity”…

  8. Matters Not

    Sometimes lying is compulsory – necessary for survival. For example, how does one answer this question:

    Does my bum look too big in this?

    More seriously, lying may always be wrong (deontological ethics) but can be justified if it achieves a greater good (teleological ethics). Lying to protect a life is one obvious example. Lying to prevent hurting the feelings of the other can also be justified. The intention becomes important.

  9. Kronomex

    The Potato is Australia’s Lavrentiy Beria and is just as frightening –

    The only difference, for the moment at least, is we don’t have the 2 o’clock in the morning raid when (after a neighbour dobbed you in for saying nasty things about the LNP) the jackbooted thugs batter the door down and drag you away.

    Phil, I would use the word “ersatz” instead of “hypo” regading Scummo and his christianity.

  10. Zoltan Balint

    Truth is what will get you through life and keep you happy when you go to sleep. BUT if you want more than you deserve and think that the stupid people of this world deserve to be ripped off … good article Terence but who do you think will read it.

  11. desert nomad

    The principle that it is ok for politicians to lie to people was (again) instigated by non other than John howard after the 1996 election, citing matters of national security. I remember a media organisation (may have been the abc or the smh) ran a public survey asking people if they agreed with this and surprise surprise the majority who responded to the survey did agree with him. Personally I believe Howard marks the beginning of the degradation of politics of which the present state of stupification and indecisiveness on crucial matters (such as climate change and extinction events) is the outcome. That Howard’s form of conservatism has come to define politics in Australia will go down as the greatest tragedy after the invasion by Europeans that this country has ever faced. However there has to be serious question about whether anyone will be around in 50 or 100 years to write this history.

  12. john lord

    “Do you shape the truth for the sake of good impression? On the other hand, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down the view people may have of you? Alternatively, do you simply use the contrivance of omission and create another lie. I can only conclude that there is always pain in truth but there is no harm in it”

  13. Zoltan Balint

    To shape the truth for a good impression is to lie. There is never pain in the truth only when a lie is found out. I use to tell people working for me that if they made a mistake tell me about it and we will fix it. But to lie about it and I Find out after wasting time, that is when their problems begin.

  14. Kaye Lee


    I just heard Scott Morrison saying mental health problems were no excuse.

  15. Kronomex

    That’s a new low even for Scummo!

  16. Kronomex

    How low does the LNP under Morriscum have to sink in the polls before the daggers are going to be taken out from under the togas and sharpened in anticpation of removing yet another PM? It’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

  17. dead toad on the road

    The deeper the LNP dig tthe lower the quality of the individual. Scott Morrison as leader in itself strikes a new low – even for the LNP – but that doesn’t matter if winning the race to the bottom is what counts. Phillip Adams did an interview with someone who wrote a biography on Billy McMahon in what can only be seen as a slight about present leader’s capabilities. Enter Mr Dutton to fix the mess! Or will we see a re-emergence of that messiah waiting in the wings in the shape of an Abbott. What can you say about this lot. They even make Australian cricket look good.

  18. Kronomex

    Straight away this rings alarm bells –

    My favourite line is, “…conservatively priced at $2 billion.” Which in reality means at least $4 billion.

    If there is no more “budget crisis” why does all the moving around and stripping of money to pay for other things by Scummo and Co. have a smell of “Budget crisis.” I thought we were awash in millions of extra dollars? Could it, gasp, be a lie?

    Oh wait, I forgot that the LNP is in election mode and the pastor is in desperation mode. Silly me.

  19. Zoltan Balint

    Try telling the legal profession that mental illness is no defence.

  20. Zoltan Balint

    Morrison is running out of ideas of how to get the LNP re-elected. No policies or ideas of how to guide us into the future. So, it worked in 2013, Tony hammered the budget defecit thing and said that only the LNP CAN FIX IT , and they will do it by 2015. The budget turned positive because of changes in the world finances getting better and kicking welfare recipient off payment and unemployed off payments and pension Recipients to expect less … in 2017. Well, if Morrison can convince Australians that there is another budget crisis on the way and the ALP will only make it worse, what else does he need to do. It worked in 2013.

  21. Diane

    And then ProMo and the Leader of the Victorian LNP had the barefaced cheek to turn up at the cafe of the poor man that lost his life in the Bourke Street attack and try to make it about them! Are there no depths too low for them?

    As one genuine patron of the cafe says in that article “They can’t help themselves can they?”

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