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Tony Abbott's name is mud

Date

Mike Carlton

<i>Illustration: Glen Le Lievre.</i>

Illustration: Glen Le Lievre.

Well, I can understand why just at the moment politicians aren’t much trusted because we’ve had too many politicians who say one thing before an election to win votes and then do the opposite after the election…

Tony Abbott, Newcastle radio, June 13, 2013.

The Prime Minister is a liar. There is no point mincing words. We have never seen anything like it.

With this budget he has shown himself to be cynically dishonest on a scale unprecedented in modern politics. Although Abbott is not the first political leader to break an election promise and will not be the last, no prime minister in memory, Liberal or Labor, has come even close to his contemptuous deception of the electorate he sucker-punched on Tuesday.

To a point, this is not surprising. All my adult life I have been lied to by the Tories, from the Vietnam war on down to John Howard's invention of the non-core promise. I was therefore expecting duplicity from Abbott. It's what people like him do, how they think, how they govern.

But it was genuinely shocking to see his wholesale abandonment of the bargain of candour to be expected between leader and people. Almost every significant commitment he made in the election campaign last year has been flung overboard or distorted beyond recognition.

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.
Tony Abbott, SBS NEWS – September 6, 2013

There are five separate betrayals in that lot alone. The most heinous is his full frontal assault upon Medicare, with even the poorest families forced to fork out a $7 "co-payment" – as the euphemism goes – to see their GP, to get a pathology test, to have a CT scan, to fill a prescription. It's a tax from a government that promised no new taxes. Pay it, or join the ever-lengthening queue at your local hospital's emergency department, where Abbott has given them the green light to charge you as well.

In education, university fees will soar as they are thrown onto the open market. Stand by for the $120,000 arts degree. This, despite Christopher "Poodles" Pyne's promise to Sky News on November 7 last year that " we're not going to raise fees ... I am not even considering it because we promised that we wouldn’t."

But these two hits – gross as they are – pale against the enormity of the biggest surprise in this no-surprises budget, the government's decision to unload $80 billion of health and education spending onto the states in the coming years.

It is the end of the Gonski education reforms. It is the shredding of the health care safety net by a Prime Minister who just weeks ago could proclaim, without batting an eyelid, that he was "the best friend Medicare has ever had".

The state and territory leaders – Tories all bar one – are livid. Mike Baird rightly called it " a kick in the guts for the people of NSW," and Queensland's Campbell Newman demanded an emergency COAG meeting. At which, no doubt, the states will howl for an increase in the GST. Eventually they will get it, expanded to catch food and anything else it does not hit now, and then hoicked to 12.5% by a prime minister who could boast in opposition:

"We are about reducing taxes, not increasing taxes. We are about getting rid of taxes, not imposing new taxes. This is my whole reason for being in politics, in the Parliament."

Tony Abbott, November 20, 2012.

And on it goes. Up with the fuel excise, hitting you at the servo. Old people will fall back in the race against inflation. Eventually they will have to work to 70 to get the pension ; OK, perhaps, if you're an office worker. Frightening if you're on the tools, driving a truck, teaching infants, or nursing in intensive care.

The young unemployed are savagely bashed with the refusal of the dole for six months. The disabled are to be interrogated, yet again, to determine if they are cheating. The ABC, bludgeoned as well, will be forced to shed staff, cut programs and very probably close some of its foreign news bureaus. And that's before the so-called "efficiency dividend" is imposed. Goaded by the Murdoch press, the Liberals make no secret of their loathing for the ABC as a nest of lefty traitors. It is punishment politics at its most vindictive.

This is a fair budget, everyone is doing his or her bit, including, dare I say it, politicians.”
Tony Abbott, Channel Ten, May 14.

If Labor had brought in a "deficit levy" on the wealthy – yes, another tax – the Tories and their claque of media toadies would have shrieked blue murder about socialist class warfare. Instead, they portray Abbott as a strong leader taking tough decisions to end a budget "emergency" they themselves invented.

Actually, someone on $200,000 a year would pay around an extra $210 in tax, the cost of a business lunch. And the politicians' wage freeze is derisory. On $507,000 a year, Abbott is one of the world's best paid leaders, doing rather better than Barack Obama earning the equivalent of $425,000 or, say, the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who scrapes by on $161,000.

With Orwellian deceit, Abbott insists that "we have fundamentally kept faith with the Australian people". In fact, he and Smokin' Joe Hockey have brought down an oppressive, grasping budget. It is not so much a fiscal document as a political tract, driven by a brutal conservative ideology in which ordinary people are lashed to the wheels of "the market" and conscripted to serve an economy which should be serving them.

It is a delicious irony that Abbott has destroyed the faith the voters placed in him. Endlessly blackguarding Julia Gillard for her broken carbon tax promise and trumpeting himself as a paragon of probity, he raised the bar.

On Tuesday he fell beneath it, face down in the mud, and will never be trusted again.

Twitter: @MikeCarlton01

1024 comments so far

  • The gall of Tony Abbott.

    Hounded Gillard relentlessly for nearly three years for her alleged dishonesty, and then turns around and lies,

    and lies,

    and lies

    through the back teeth.

    But even that pales by comparison with the sheer bald-faced hypocrisy of this budget - you know - the one where everyone is supposed to share the pain - but in reality where the rich are slapped merely with a trifling temporary tax, while the poor are kicked repeatedly and mercilessly.

    Yep, start building more prisons, coz this is going to get ugly.

    Commenter
    Gobby Dirndl
    Date and time
    May 17, 2014, 12:26AM
    • I'd be willing to bet they win another term. People have short memories. Idiots.

      The amount of people who couldn't see the difference between the parties before the last election was astounding. "They are just as bad as each other" Uh, no. They are not. Yes, lets take away the tax on huge companies making massive profits and cut payments to struggling single parents instead.

      Labor let us down badly, they need to get organised, get rid of the infighting and properly sell their policies to the public. Or Abbott will get in for another term, like he did last time on the back of a few people arriving by boat. Now that those ridiculously overblown stories of 'boat people' are out of the news the real consequences are laid bare. Education, health, pensions..... It makes me weep, the stupidity of it all.
      .

      Commenter
      Sherbert
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 6:39AM
    • So many knew he was a liar before the election but nobody would listen. Why we said the media was biased, could not believe how different the truth was from what people were told. there was ample evidence.

      Still some people repeat his lies.

      Who will pay? The next generation.

      Commenter
      grim
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 7:02AM
    • Joseph Goebbels is attributed with saying that if you repeat a lie often enough people (and yourself) will eventually believe it, Tony Joe and the LNP obviously subscribe to this method. What Goebbels actually said was "The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous."

      Commenter
      Dreyfus
      Location
      Grafton
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 7:05AM
    • +1

      Commenter
      Seano
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 7:18AM
    • Where was all this crying and despair for the poor when the carbon tax came in?

      Commenter
      Overthetop
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 7:19AM
    • I have to wonder what game Abbott is playing. He faces a hostile Senate. The result of the budget would be the same if he broke every promise or none. Its almost designed to be blocked as much as possible so that when the"budget crisis" isn't fixed they can blame it on Labor blocking them.

      I think they've well and truly underestimated the votes they've lost in the process though.

      Commenter
      paxxy
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 7:22AM
    • Talking to people that Abbott actually fooled into voting for him last election the general consensus is that they cannot believe how stupid they were to trust Abbott. They are so pissed off with Abbott and the LNP it's scary, these are people that prior to the election would not listen to reason or facts who blindly read the Murdoch lies, now so outraged they would probably abuse Abbott and any other LNP on sight. Abbott has sown the seeds of deceit now he will reap the whirlwind that is coming, And that whirlwind will be to give the LNP the LNP, Last Number Position on the ballot paper next election!

      Commenter
      HFR
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 7:23AM
    • Gobby, you aren't supposed to get the first blog...where's Hacka?! Perhaps even this is all a bridge too far to defend...?

      Commenter
      Huh?
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 7:30AM
    • Oh dear. Once again another diatribe from mike with no substance and just an opportunistic chance to put the boot into the side of politics he so obviously loathes. No mention of just how bad the last 6 years of labor profligacy and disastrous budget management have been. It's almost like Rudd and Gillard didn't exist. Sorry mike but the sensible people out here understand that we need to sort out the mess and get the country back on track and back to surplus. Something that labor could never and would never do.

      Commenter
      Hodster
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 7:33AM

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