Tony Abbott, we are sick of your lies

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Sunday, 19 February 2012 18:03 by Ad astra
It is absurdly ironic that you, the one who has admitted on national TV that sometimes you do not tell the truth, should spend so much of your time and energy demonizing Julia Gillard as an inveterate liar, not to be trusted, even picking up on your favourite shock jock’s tag: ‘Ju-liar’. You have been relentless in labeling her a liar while day after day you lie bald-facedly to the Australian public.

Alcoa lies
Only last week you lied by attributing Alcoa’s decision to review the viability of its Point Henry aluminum smelter to the carbon tax, although the MD of Alcoa had specifically said that the carbon tax was not a factor. Later you said that Alcoa’s problems made it the worst time to introduce the tax, maybe afraid you had gone too far. But not willing to let the matter lie, you and the Leader of the Nationals both asked the same question of the PM in Question Time last Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, selectively quoting from a Treasury assessment which mentioned that over a 60% reduction in aluminum output could occur consequent to the carbon tax, but failing to mention that the compensation to the industry for the carbon tax would reduce the cost to it to no more than a one cent rise in the Australian dollar. You failed to acknowledge what the MD of Alcoa had said was the real cause of the company’s difficulty: the high Australian dollar, low aluminum prices and the high price of the commodities used in production.

On Wednesday, you attributed the delay in the $3 billion upgrade of the Alcoa alumina refinery at Wagerup, WA to the upcoming carbon tax, but the PM read out a statement from Alcoa to the contrary, stating it was due to its inability to obtain a satisfactory supply of natural gas. By omitting those facts you set out to deceive – you lied. Still not satisfied you had done enough damage, you then sent out Eric Abetz on Lateline on Thursday to insist that the job losses foreshadowed by Alcoa and also those announced by Qantas and other companies, were ‘preemptive action’ by these companies in anticipation of the carbon tax. No evidence of this was evinced. Your lies multiply. We are tired of them. When are we ever going to hear the truth from you? You are a political opportunist to whom telling the truth is irrelevant.

Budget lies
You, and your two other finance spokesmen lied about your budgetary goals. You seemed unable to agree whether you would produce a surplus in your first budget. You and the other two vacillated until you were reduced to saying that if Labor can produce a surplus budget, the Coalition would. But we still have Andrew Robb being non-committal and insisting the debt be paid off before committing to expenditure, Joe Hockey loudly proclaiming there will be a Coalition surplus budget despite giving tax cuts and foregoing revenue, and you having a bet both ways. Who is telling the truth? We know you all lie, but why not at least lie consistently?

The Howarth ‘audit’ lies
You lied to us about your so-called ‘savings’ that would enable you to reach your budgetary goals. The $50 billion savings you trumpeted at the time of the last budget was shown to have a $10.6 billion so-called ‘black hole’, which you and the others steadfastly denied, citing ‘the fifth largest accounting firm in Australia’, the Perth-based WHK Howarth, as having certified the correctness of your figures in an ‘audit’. That was a lie. Howarth did not do a proper audit. All they said was that they reviewed the Coalition’s costing estimates and that ‘based on the assumptions provided’, they were satisfied they had been accurately prepared and could be funded from the 2010-11 budget.

Subsequently, the professional conduct tribunal of the Institute of Chartered Accountants imposed fines of $5000 each on Geoffrey Phillip Kidd and Cyrus Patell of WHK Howarth after a complaint over a report they compiled about the Coalition's 2010 election costings. You knew that the assumptions upon which your figures were based were to be kept secret so that neither Treasury nor anyone else could check them. Yet examining assumptions is a normal part of an audit process. You and Joe Hockey insisted it was a proper audit, and when challenged by economically literate journalists, Hockey fobbed them off by accusing them of engaging in a semantic argument. Even after the finding of improper conduct by WHK Howarth accountants, you still insisted on the validity of these costings of your election promises, and you still perpetuate the lie that they have been audited and are accurate. You even say that you are proud of them.

The $70 billion budget black hole
The lies go on. You claim that you have made savings of $70 billion in the context of this year’s budget, but we have seen no details. How can we believe you? The figure is in question; some of your finance troika go along with it, others don’t. When will you give us the details of the amount and how it is constituted? Will it be subject to the same shonky ‘audit’ as last time? You refuse to use the independent Parliamentary Budget Office, no doubt out of fear it will expose flaws in your costings. Economists ask how $70 billion can be removed from the budget without severe reductions in services, while still giving tax cuts and other benefits. You don’t answer. You seem to expect the people to just take you at your word that all will be well – magic pudding style!

’Demolishing the NBN’ lies
You continue to claim that by ‘demolishing the NBN’ you will save the cost of the network, although you know this does not contribute to the bottom line of the budget. It is a capital expense and an investment that will yield a dividend for the government. Yet you still claim ‘scrapping it’ will be a ‘saving’. That is a lie, and you know it.

While we are talking about the NBN, you still insist you will halt work to save money and add to your ‘savings’. You know you won’t do that. It will be too far advanced. Only someone disinterested in the damage that might do to our economy would even contemplate this, but you say you will. What about the 37,000 jobs that a fully operational NBN will create? What about the boost to the new digital economy it will provide, with all the jobs that implies? How can we believe you when you talk about demolishing the NBN?

The Home Insulation Program lies
Your lies traverse all areas of government. Take the Home Insulation Program that you have demonized from the outset. JohnL has exposed your lies on The Political Sword in his two part piece: Absurdities abound as Abbott wages a crass war and Abbott’s amazing amnesia on insulation inquiry. You said: “There were the pink batts that this government could not put into roofs for free without houses catching fire right around Australia”. That was a lie. Official records show that there were no fires in 99.98% of the million ceilings insulated. Two in ten thousand (224) had fires and just thirty had structural damage. This rate of fires was less than occurred prior to the HIP. Yet you pilloried the Government, and also made them out to be killers of insulation workers, although you knew full well that OH&S is a state responsibility, that it was breaches of OH&S that were responsible, and that no blame is attributable to the Federal Government. You and Greg Hunt even accused the responsible minister, Peter Garratt, of ‘industrial manslaughter’, a monstrous charge, which you had no compunction in making.

All we have heard from you about the HIP is lies, lies, and more lies. You said “No good government would ever spend more than a billion dollars putting pink batts into roofs and a billion dollars to take them out again.” That is a lie. You know perfectly well that the cost of rectification of faulty insulation installation is nowhere near that figure. Around twenty percent of ceilings had inspections but only 4.2% had rectification works to make them safe. How could that cost ‘a billion dollars’? That was a lie and you must have known that it was, but you said it over and again.

You and Greg Hunt insisted that there must be a Royal Commission into the ‘scandal’, and that you would institute it once in office. But there was no mention of it in your election speech. Did you ever intend to conduct one, or was this just another of your lies?

The Building the Education Revolution lies
The Building Education Revolution was another fertile ground for your lies, aided and abetted by Matthew Franklin, who got his teeth into it with relish, and The Australian, which ran a special section week after week to highlight the BER’s ‘waste and mismanagement’. You knew that speed of rollout was essential to achieve a stimulatory effect during the GFC and that in such circumstances there was bound to be some overcharging. But of course you never allowed for that when you condemned the Government’s effort to save construction jobs, stimulate the economy, and in the process replace or add to ageing school infrastructure that had ran down during the Howard era. You labelled some of it ‘Julia Gillard Memorial Halls’, yet your Liberal parliamentarians were at openings of them, enjoying the accolades these fine new buildings evoked.

You persisted with the ‘waste and mismanagement’ mantra even after three comprehensive reports from the BER Implementation Taskforce chaired by businessman Brad Orgill showed over 97% satisfaction with the program. The report said: “Overall, the Taskforce found that the majority of education authorities attained value for money and delivered quality education facilities. The Final Report notes that the program has touched every community in Australia, and has delivered substantial stimulus.” There was some overcharging, mostly in NSW where the rollout was fastest. There was some waste, but overall there was value for money, not billions of dollars wasted as you asserted. Your lying propaganda so convinced the public that a recent survey showed that an overall majority went along with your mantra. But the majority of those who had children at the schools where improvements had been made were well satisfied with the program, a significant finding. Those who benefited praised the program; those who didn’t benefit directly believed your lies, and went along with you. How do you feel about deceiving the electorate so blatantly?

Global Financial Crisis lies
Let’s go back a little further, to the Global Financial Crisis. The view of almost every reputable economist, here and overseas, is that the Rudd Government did a sterling job in shielding this nation from the crisis. Wayne Swan has been named ‘World’s Best Treasurer’ by Euromoney magazine, the IMF and World Bank continue to laud Australia’s efforts, and governments around the world indicate how they envy our position: our low debt, our low inflation, our low interest rates, our growth close to trend, 200,000 jobs protected during the GFC leading to low unemployment (now 5.1%, resulting in more Australians being in work than at any time in our history), our jobs creation (46,300 in January and 760,000 since the Labor Government was elected), and they say so repeatedly.

For the first time in our history, Australia has triple A ratings from all three rating agencies. Yet you, and your shadow Treasurer have the temerity to attempt to discredit what the Government has achieved, to attribute our strong situation almost entirely to prior reforms legislated by previous governments, previous Howard Government surpluses, a strong well-regulated banking system and Reserve Bank monetary policy that reduced interest rates to record lows. Of course all of these factors are relevant, but to deny the value of all the other actions the Government took – bank guarantees, cash supplements to promote retail trade, and targeted stimulus programs such as the HIP and BER to support the construction industry and local suppliers, is not just mean-spirited, it is another disingenuous tissue of lies with which you smother every good thing this Government does. Joe Hockey even queried whether the crisis ever existed when he said: “What recession?” You never give credit no matter how deserving; instead you lie, even though this flies in the face of informed opinion. We are sick and tired of your lies.

The minority government failure lie
One of your most laughable lies is that the minority government ‘experiment’ has been a failure. You assert this over and again despite the Gillard Government having so far passed 269 pieces of legislation without one failure, despite trenchant opposition from you and the Coalition at every step. Some failure! Some lie!

Changes to the private health insurance rebate lies
‘Addicted to tax’ is one of your favourite slogans to characterize the Government. In last week’s debate about the health rebate changes, you even chose to affix the tag ‘health tax’ to this measure. I noticed that you soon dropped this deceptive description, but I bet it reappears in your election campaign to push your line that the Government is ‘addicted to tax’. Your health tax label applied to the levy, one that was in your legislation, that was applicable if wealthy people refused to take out private health insurance, a stick the Howard Government introduced to push the wealthy into insurance instead of sponging on the public health system. The new legislation simply adjusted that upward. But to you it was a ‘health tax’. Another lie. Last time legislative changes were made to the rebate, Joe Hockey predicted a million would leave private health insurance; since then 800,000 have joined. Another lie, or a major miscalculation?

You threaten to reverse the legislation if you are elected, but say nothing about how you will manage the loss of $2.4 billion from your budget bottom line over the forward estimates, a loss that will amount to $100 billion by 2050. You are now using the qualifying words ‘as soon as possible’ no doubt realizing that you would be cutting off your nose to spite your face, all for a few votes, most of which would come from your supporters anyway. So already you are promising something you have no intention of delivering, as you know full well you will need every cent to balance your budget and achieve a surplus. This will be shown to be another Abbott lie.

Boat people lies
I could go on and on, but let’s touch briefly on your lies about the processing of asylum seekers. Both the Coalition and the Government favour offshore processing, which could begin if only you voted for Government legislation to allow any government to select its own offshore processing arrangements. But you refuse, insisting it has to be your preferred approach – incarceration on Nauru. You insist that this, TPV’s, and turning boats around will ‘work’ in deterring boat arrivals, as you assert they did during the Howard era, when arrivals did fall. You refuse to acknowledge that circumstances in world migration now are radically different from that in the Howard years; you refuse to accept expert advice that Nauru will no longer be a deterrent, you just press on with your deception knowing that much of the electorate will swallow your paltry reasoning.

You claim that within weeks Nauru could be ready for receiving boat people, although you know it is partly derelict and is currently used for other purposes. You know about the water shortages, and the substantial costs of readying the venue, but you are in denial. You get a ‘catering firm’ to give you a quote on the cost of restoration of Nauru, which you will not expose to scrutiny. It is much lower than experts from the public service have estimated. You know the quote is shonky, but you don’t care, so long as it makes the Government look incompetent. If you get into Government you will simply bury your miscalculations.

What about your threat to turn the boats around? You say it was done before and can be done again. Yet you know how many boats were disabled to avoid return, you know of the tragic deaths from such actions, you remember the 353 who died on SIEVX, but you still insist you will turn them around. That is a lie. You won’t because you can’t. Will you use your ‘boat-phone’ to instruct naval commanders to ‘turn them around’? Will you back off if they say that would be dangerous? I bet you will. Your hairy-chested threat is a charade, another lie to elicit redneck support.

Tell us why turning boats around and returning them to Indonesia is legitimate when that country has said it doesn’t want them back? Do you care about the damage such action would do to diplomatic relations with Indonesia? You threaten to send the boats back but you know that Indonesia is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, although that is the very reason you state you won’t support Labor’s Malaysia arrangements. What rank hypocrisy.

To cap it all off you then seized on a recent media beat-up that boat people in detention were being provided with ‘luxury items’ such as TV sets, which Chris Bowen explained were just basic items for living, not for the individual, but for the dwelling. You insisted that this was sending the wrong message by ‘rolling out the red carpet’. You know this and all your utterances about boat people are designed to garner votes, and are simply a bundle of lies.

Lies about the ‘tax repeals’
This piece is already long enough, so let me finish by referring to the carbon and minerals taxes, which you have given a ‘blood oath’ to repeal. You insist you will do that, as well as reversing last week’s changes to the private health insurance levy, thereby sacrificing many billions of dollars of revenue, but you insist you will still give tax cuts and introduce your extravagant PPL scheme. This is where your $70 billion in ‘savings’ will come into play. You know you can’t make the sums add up, but you still persist, although I hear you now conceding that ‘it won’t be easy’. No doubt this is a prelude to claiming that Labor has left the budget in such a state that you cannot keep your promises and a surplus budget in your first year – core and non-core promises all over again! You say you will take away the tax breaks to families and businesses and the pension increases that accompany the carbon tax, along with the increases in superannuation, but you know you won’t and certainly can’t without a double dissolution election. You know the electoral backlash would be so severe that despite all your hairy-chested ‘promises’, you will go to water and blame Labor for your default.

We are sick and tired of your lies, your misrepresentations, your deceit, which you perpetrate day after day because virtually no one in the MSM has the guts to confront you with your deception, and when a marginally less timid journalist tries, you avoid giving an answer and close down the questions. Without a compliant MSM you would not be able to get away with your disingenuousness; you would be exposed for what you are.

To return to the beginning, the irony of you of all people lambasting our PM for lying is risible. It is not just a simple case of the pot benignly calling the kettle black, it is a premeditated, venomous, ongoing personal campaign to discredit our PM, to burn into the public psyche the belief that she is a lair, not to be trusted, and therefore to be thrown out of office because this renders her ‘incapable of governing’, despite her having passed 269 pieces of legislation. It is reprehensible in the extreme, based as it is on a long trail of lies and misrepresentations.

Finally, should any pro-Coalition reader wish to label this piece ‘the rant of an old lefty’, as I suspect some might, respond by exposing any facts in this piece you consider incorrect. To echo the words of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, you are entitled to hold a different opinion from mine, but you are not entitled to your own facts.