Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Tony Abbott's "trouble with the truth" started long ago

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is well-known for admitting to a very flexible relationship with the truth.

Looking back, it is also possible he even displays a unhealthy capacity for self-delusion.

Here is one political commentator ruminating over aspects of Abbott’s character.

Writing in The Monthly on 16 December 2014 Russell Marks observed:

In The Monthly on 27 May 2014 Marks looked at what Abbott had said and when (about himself, his party and the government he expected to lead) and, here are some of those quotes:

“We are the party of political honesty.”
-ABC TV’s Q&A, 19 March 2009

“The Coalition is against new taxes.”
-Interviewed by Madonna King, 612 ABC Radio, Brisbane, 25 January 2010

REPORTER: “Mr Abbott, how can you be taken seriously when you’re talking about lower taxes but one of your first major policies was paid parental leave to be funded by tax on business?”
TONY ABBOTT: “Well, it’s a temporary – what I hope will be a temporary levy on a very small number of businesses. It’s very important, as the Howard government acknowledged, sometimes when your fiscal circumstances are tight, to do what is absolutely necessary there may have to be levies or charges. This is not something that I take any pleasure in.”
-Doorstop interview, Sydney, 30 March 2010

“The Coalition is allergic to new taxes.”
-Interviewed by Michael Bailey, Radio 4RO, Rockhampton, 18 May 2010  

“We have well and truly learnt our lesson. The last thing we want to do is expose ourselves to the wrath of the Howard battlers.”
-ABC TV’s Q&A, 5 April 2010

“What you'll get under us are tax cuts without new taxes.”
-Doorstop interview with Greg Hunt, Pure Solar, 14 March 2012

“All of the commitments that we make will be designed to promote the national interest, not to try to curry favours with any particular group.”
–Joint doorstop interview with Nigel McKenna, Adelaide Ice, Regency Park, Adelaide, 26 April 2013

The carbon tax will go, but no-one personal tax will go up and no-one's fortnightly pension or benefit will go down.”
-Budget reply speech, House of Representatives, Parliament House, 16 May 2013

“The great thing about the Coalition is you know exactly what you will get from the Coalition.”
-Interviewed by Chris Uhlmann, ABC TV’s 7.30, 8 July 2013

“We will be a consultative, collegial government. No surprises. No excuses.”
-Interviewed by Chris Uhlmann, ABC TV’s 7.30, 8 July 2013

“I can promise that no school would be worse off under the Coalition.”
–Joint doorstop interview with Russell Matheson, Camden, NSW, 15 July 2013

“I won’t be doing deals with independents and minor parties.”
-Press conference, Parliament House, Canberra, 4 August 2013   

“In order to ensure [education] funding certainty, we will honour the deals that the government has so far made and we will match the offers that the government has so far made in terms of funding.”
–Interviewed by Sabra Lane, ABC Radio’s AM, 5 August 2013

REPORTER: “All your promises that you're announcing during this election campaign, they will be implemented in full. That is a rock solid commitment?”
TONY ABBOTT: “I will do what I say we will do. I want to be known as someone who under-promises and over-delivers.”
–Joint press conference, Colo Heights, NSW, 13 August 2013

REPORTER: “The condition of the budget will not be an excuse for breaking promises?”
TONY ABBOTT: “Exactly right. We will keep the commitments that we make. All of the commitments that we make will be commitments that are carefully costed.”
–Joint press conference, Colo Heights, NSW, 13 August 2013

“I want to be known as a prime minister who keeps commitments.”
-Joint press conference, Colo Heights, NSW, 13 August 2013

“I’ve seen the disaster that this government has done for itself by saying one thing and doing another, Jon. I don’t want to be like that. I really don’t. If we do win the election and we immediately say, oh, we got it all wrong, we've now got to do all these different things, we will instantly be just as bad as the current government has been and I just refuse to be like that… Before polling day you’ll know exactly what we’re going to spend, exactly what we’re going to save, and exactly how much better the budget bottom line will be under the Coalition.”
-Interviewed by Jon Faine, ABC Radio 774, Melbourne, 30 August 2013

“No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.”
-on SBS TV on election eve, 6 September 2013

“In a week or so the governor-general will swear in a new government. A government that says what it means, and means what it says. A government of no surprises and no excuses.”
-Election night victory speech, 7 September 2013

 During his election night victory speech in September 2013, Tony Abbott made the following commitments:

“I now look forward to forming a government that is competent, that is trustworthy and which purposefully and steadfastly and methodically sets about delivering on our commitments to you, the Australian people.”
“In a week or so the governor-general will swear in a new government. A government that says what it means, and means what it says. A government of no surprises and no excuses. A government that understands the limits of power as well as its potential. And a government that accepts that it will be judged more by its deeds than by its mere words.”

“I give you all this assurance – we will not let you down. A good government is one that governs for all Australians, including those who haven’t voted for it. A good government is one with a duty to help everyone to maximise his or her potential, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and our forgotten families, as well as those who Menzies described as ‘lifters, not leaners’. We will not leave anyone behind.”

–Election night victory speech, Sydney, 7 September 2013

It is hardly surprising that in 2015 Abbott has an entrenched reputation for political dishonesty and failure to keep election promises.

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