Lies, damned lies and sour grapes
By Barry Tucker
Tony Abbott almost won the 2010 election. He almost won the negotiations with the Independents. But he lost both and he’s been pissed off ever since.
The two NSW Independents didn’t ask Mr Abbott to agree to a carbon price scheme. In his election campaign, he said he wouldn’t do it. Some time well before the election campaign he said if you want to price carbon, why not do it with a simple tax? He also said he believed “… the science of climate change is absolute crap”. Some obvious confusion there, but … let’s move on. NSW Independents Tony Windsor and Robert Oakeshott rejected Mr Abbott on the question of “trust” — they feared he would quickly move for a double dissolution in a bid to gain control of both House of Parliament.
If someone hadn’t agreed to the Independent’s demand for the introduction of a carbon pricing scheme I don’t know what was supposed to happen. I think the nation would have been marching back to the polls. So, that wicked woman Julia Gillard said “Yes”, and Mr Abbott lost his mind. Mr Abbott, a former wannabe priest, is known in some circles as The Mad Monk. Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese says: “In your guts, you know he’s nuts.”
Mr Abbott wanted the Prime Minister’s job so badly he “begged for it”, Independent Tony Windsor told the House. He not only begged, he said he would do anything short of “selling his arse”. Listen carefully because the remark is almost drowned out by the howls of protest from the Opposition benches and the Speaker calling for order.
There you have it, perhaps the most revealing address in the House since the 2010 election. By that time Mr Windsor had heard enough of Mr Abbott’s lies and deceit regarding the carbon price and its effect on electricity bills. Recall how Mr Abbott rolls about and laughs as Mr Windsor reminds him of what he said. It’s in Mr Windsor’s BlackBerry. There’s no denying it, but Mr Abbott tries to laugh it off. Where is his sense of reality?
What happened after he failed to win the Independents’ support tells us all we need to know about Mr Abbott’s character. He took an honest statement by Julia Gillard and condensed it into a lie, a forerunner of his annoying three-word slogans.
Ms Gillard had said this: “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead but let me be perfectly clear, I will introduce a price on carbon and move on to an emissions trading scheme.” And this: “I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism,” she said of the next parliament. “I rule out a carbon tax.” Mr Abbott condensed it into this: “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.” He then claims the Prime Minister has lied to the people and misled the Parliament. She is not a fit person to be Prime Minister, he says. Mr Abbott makes the claim again and again and the mainstream news media (MSM) lets him get away with it.
(Relevant remarks begin at 2.12 mark. Also see this report in The Australian on 2010 election eve.)
Mr Abbott goes on to claim that the carbon “tax” (another lie; it’s a price, stage 1 of a trading scheme) will destroy businesses, increase the cost of everything and some places, like Whyalla, will be “wiped off the map”. Once again the government struggles to counter Mr Abbott’s ludicrous prediction, until the fatal day, July 1, 2012, when the carbon price comes into effect.
At last, and at great personal risk to his own credibility, Trade Minister Craig Emerson highlights the absurdity of Mr Abbott’s lie/fear campaign. The MSM doesn’t think much of Mr Emerson’s song and dance routine, but Whyalla survives and Mr Abbott’s career takes a dive. One more lie exposed for what it is.
It wasn’t long before Mr Abbott was presented with another opportunity to destroy the government – if only one brick at a time. The brick in this case was Peter Slipper, a seasoned LNP campaigner, an old friend of Mr Abbott’s who had been sidelined in favour of another Liberal candidate. He’d also been recruited by Ms Gillard and elevated from Deputy Speaker to Speaker, a stunning move that won the government another vote and brought on the absolute fury of the Opposition. Half clever, half fraught with danger, the move served only to provide Mr Abbott with more muck to throw at Ms Gillard. Behind the scenes, machinations were under way to finally destroy the Speaker. Mr Slipper ended up facing allegations of sexual harassment by a former male employee and he stood aside.
When some of Mr Slipper’s nasty text messages were released by the court Mr Abbott pounced. He moved another in his series of Suspension of Standing Orders so that the House could debate his motion to dismiss the Speaker. The government fought back on two grounds: 1. the matter was still before the court; 2 dismissing a Speaker would set a dangerous precedent. Debate on the motion reached a climax in Ms Gillard’s now famous “misogyny speech”. The Prime Minister was finally making some ground against Mr Abbott’s campaign of lie/fear/smear.
With his attack campaign failing, Mr Abbott ruffled through the Opposition’s Dirt File (which they deny having; it’s only a folder marked Gillard/AWU with some papers inside) and comes up with something that happened 20 years ago: unproven allegations about Ms Gillard benefiting from the misappropriation of funds from the AWU Workplace Reform Association’s bank account, or “slush fund”.
Under our legal system the burden of proof rests with the accuser. A mere inconvenience. Mr Abbott (aided and abetted by outside sources also keen to destroy the government) decided to regurgitate old unproven allegations. It’s a time-honoured (but dishonourable) parliamentary principle of flinging mud in the knowledge that some of it always sticks. For the next few months we had to put up with the boring revisitation of this furphy and, again, Ms Gillard’s inability to knock it clean out of the ring.
However, in the last sitting week of Parliament Mr Abbott again proved what a boofhead he is by managing to punch himself in the head, and he even managed to take out his Deputy Opposition Leader, Julie Bishop, at the same time. Fearing further damaging claims of sexism and misogyny, Mr Abbott handed the attack to Ms Bishop. For three days Question Time consisted of one question after another from Ms Bishop regarding matters surrounding the slush fund. Then Ms Bishop slipped up in a confused tale about who she accidentally bumped into, or spoke to, or when, or for how long. “She cannot remember who she spoke to last week, but expects me to remember what I did or didn’t do 20 years ago,” Ms Gillard said.
Time for Mr Abbott to take over again, reluctantly. On the morning of the final day he made a fatal error. Appearing on Nine’s breakfast show, and quoting from the Fairfax press, he accused the Prime Minister of misleading the WA Corporate Affairs Commission, a criminal act, a crime. And he said it outside the House, outside the “Coward’s Castle” that provides immunity for politicians, for the purpose of revealing matters that are in the public interest. Unfortunately for Mr Abbott the newspaper report was wrong and had been corrected on the Fairfax website.
Now it was Ms Gillard’s turn to strike back. She beat Mr Abbott to the punch, moving for the Suspension of Standing Orders so that Mr Abbott could provide proof of his allegation of criminality and, if he couldn’t, to apologise. He couldn’t and he didn’t apologise, but he backed down from “criminality” to “conduct unbecoming”.
Conduct unbecoming. The constant lies, the distortion, the deceit, the hypocrisy, the contempt Mr Abbott has for the Prime Minister, for the Parliament, for the news media, for the people. Two years of “conduct unbecoming”. Two years of sour grapes instead of a fair dinkum debate on why my policy is better than your policy. Two years of proof that Mr Abbott is not a fit and proper person to be the Prime Minister.
Mr Abbott’s lie/fear/smear campaign has been exposed for what it is. He has been exposed for what he is. Now his Parliamentary Liberal National Party Coalition risks being exposed for what it is. If there is any decency in the Coalition it must replace Mr Abbott and his leadership team. If not, I am sure the electorate will dish up its own contempt at the next election.