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Lying is easy: Turnbull calls for less spin


Natalie Bochenski

Former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull.

Former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Malcolm Turnbull has called for less spin in politics, savaged the negativity of public debate and criticised lazy media during a public address at the Woodford Folk Festival.

A large crowd – including former prime minister Bob Hawke - packed the Concert Stage area of the festival to hear the shadow communications minister and one-time leader of the federal Liberal party.

“It's not a 24-hour news cycle, it's a 60-second news cycle now, it's instantaneous,” said Mr Turnbull.

“It has never been easier to get away with telling lies. It has never been easier to get away with the glib one liner.”

The prolific tweeter acknowledged he took a share of the blame in being drawn into negativity and the “game of politics”, but said politicians and the media were wrong if they thought they were “helping battlers” by using one-line sound bites.

“They are not respecting them, they are treating them with contempt,” he said, to a round of applause.

“It is our job above all in politics to tackle the big issues and to explain them, and have the honesty to say to people 'there are no easy solutions here'.”

He called on any web entrepreneurs in the audience to establish a “rigorous” fact-checking website, saying all public figures should be held to account.

“It is a disgrace how much misinformation has been got away with.”

Mr Turnbull said federal Treasurer Wayne Swan continued to accuse the Coalition of voting against measures to protect Australia from the global financial crisis in late 2008, when in fact it voted for them. Mr Turnbull was Liberal leader at the time.

“That never gets reported, because the media has got to the point where they are so cynical about politics that they do not expect politicians to tell the truth,” he said.

“So if politicians are not being held to account, why would they bother? What is the incentive for them to tell the truth?

“Well, of course, there should always be an incentive to tell the truth, which is doing right thing by the electorate.

“But truth-telling and responsibility have to be a key undertaking, a New Year's resolution for each and every one of us in our federal and state parliaments in 2013,” said Mr Turnbull.

He said the world was changing rapidly, with profound challenges ahead of us.

“We have to ask ourselves this question: in the face of a converging world ... how are we going to equip ourselves to deal with that?”


  • Quite right Malcolm.

    Swannie wins the gong of the year here but honourable mentions to Albo and of course Jules.

    Date and time
    December 28, 2012, 9:54AM
    • The point is obviously a bit subtle for you Hacka, but Turnbull's point was two-edged.
      While shaking his finger a Swan, he shafts the opposition's argument that the coalition would have done things so differently that, in Chrissy Pyne's words, they'd have had surpluses every year they were in government, Also makes Hockey, Robb and Abbott look like the 3 Chickens Little, doesn't it?

      Date and time
      December 28, 2012, 10:31AM
    • The Greens don't use spin or one liners, Malcolm forgot to mention that,

      this is why I vote green
      Date and time
      December 28, 2012, 10:47AM
    • Greens are as much "have your cake and eat it" as anyone.

      Date and time
      December 28, 2012, 10:58AM
    • Oh my goodness. PLEASE get this man into the PM's office. PLEASE.

      Huge respect for you Malcolm!!

      in your base
      Date and time
      December 28, 2012, 11:22AM
    • Malcolm Turnbull chose to treat his audience at Woodport with respect and made some intelligent observations about the prevalence and effects of lying in public life.

      Then out come the zombie comments to prove that he is spot-on and that the persistent spin has been very effective and that there are those who create their reality not by truth by by tribalism. Wouldn't it be great if Turnbull's comments were thought over and not used by the wannabe Swans and Mirabellas to have another go, another joust.

      We kid ourselves if we do not see that the pleasure or indifference with which we receive the spin and lies of political and business life is leading to the corruption of our country.

      Date and time
      December 28, 2012, 11:39AM
    • So Turnbull never engaged in lies o spin.

      Godwin grech?

      Date and time
      December 28, 2012, 11:41AM
    • @Regh, in fairness to Malcolm he was hoodwinked by Grech. It may have been gross incompetence on his part but not lies or spin.

      Date and time
      December 28, 2012, 11:45AM
    • Isn't the problem that we don't want our politicians to be honest? If they say anything they get pages and pages of criticism/comment on how wrong they are, and therefore they stay on the pre-scripted lines.

      Date and time
      December 28, 2012, 11:46AM
    • It's Woodfordia ....... at least get an internationally renowned festivals name right.

      Here's the Link to increase your knowledge :

      J. Fraser
      Date and time
      December 28, 2012, 11:54AM

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