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Did PM lie, change her mind, or get wedged?

June 3, 2013

smokestacks By Barry Tucker                   3 June, 2013

Australia’s federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, has had one thing on his mind since the 2010 election: the destruction of the federal Labor government. He has demonstrated that he will go to any length, including lying about the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to achieve his goal.

This contemptible man wants to be the next Prime Minister of Australia. How far will he go? He began by saying Ms Gillard “lied” when she said: “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.” Well, actually, she did say that and more. It’s on this Channel 10 news video:

Watch from the 2.12 mark — drag the slide across. The video is undated, but I think that news broadcast was a day or two before the election. But, note what the PM ALSO said in that video, about plans for a clean energy future.

On the eve of the 2010 federal election, the PM was interviewed by two reporters from The Australian. The reporters wrote: “… the Prime Minister revealed she would view victory tomorrow as a mandate for a carbon price, provided the community was ready for this step.”

“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.”

In an interview on ABC’s Insiders on the day carbon pricing took effect, July 1, 2012, Ms Gillard said the carbon pricing mechanism was “a kind of a tax. You could call it a tax”.

Watch the video or read the transcript on the ABC website.

The “kind of a tax” the PM is referring to is known as a Pigovian tax, after the French economist Arthur Pigou, who developed the idea. It’s a tax to compensate for market irregularities. Cf: Wikkipedia article.

Neither the Liberal National Party Coalition nor Labor won a majority of seats in the 2010 election. Forming government depended on winning the trust and confidence of three key Independents, AND agreeing to introduce a carbon pricing scheme.

Tasmanian Independent Andrew Wilkie rejected Mr Abbott because of an offer to build and fund a second hospital in Hobart. Mr Wilkie said the offer was over the top and he thought it was irresponsible.

New England (NSW) Independent Tony Windsor said Mr Abbott wasn’t asked to support a carbon pricing scheme. “If we had asked, you would have supported it too, Tony, you know you would,” Mr Windsor told Parliament. “You begged for the job. You said you would do anything, short of selling your arse, but you would have to think about that.” You can view the video of Mr Windsor making the House aware of this fact:

Mr Windsor and his colleague, Independent Rob Oakeshott, said they rejected Mr Abbott on “trust”, because they feared he would call a double dissolution election in a bid to gain control of both Houses of Parliament.

The real liar in this story is Tony Abbott.

In a news release posted on his website on 16 August, 2012, he said: “Two years ago today, Julia Gillard lied to the Australian people about her plans for a carbon tax. Julia Gillard’s pre-election promise ‘there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead’ was broken as soon as she made her deal with the Greens and independents. The passage of time does not diminish the seriousness of her actions or restore the broken trust with the Australian people.”

Mr Abbott must have known that Ms Gillard explained her intentions in the Ch10 interview. Her statement did not end with “… under the government I lead”. He must have known about the subsequent statement Ms Gillard made in the interview with The Australian’s journalists.

It would be farcical for him to claim he was not told about it because his media staff would be watching very closely every statement by the PM at this crucial time. It would have been noted and reported to him. So he knew, in August 2012, what the PM said on the eve of the election, on 20 August, 2010.

The history of the “lie” has been examined by the fact checking website PolitiFact Australia and you can read that story. PolitiFact concludes the statement (The Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says: Julia Gillard broke her promise that there would be “no carbon tax under the government I lead”) is “mostly true”.

Brisbane’s The Courier-Mail is a newspaper in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp stable. However, at least one of its journalists, Paul Syvret, does not knuckle under to Murdoch dictatorship. On July 9, 2012, Mr Syvret conducted an interview with a group of pro and anti people on a number of issues, including the carbon price. In an article published the same day, Mr Syvret wrote: “There is a gulf of difference between a broken promise in the context of altered circumstance, and a deliberate decision to mislead. “As such, to accuse Gillard of lying, to argue that the carbon pricing scheme is based on a deliberate, pre-meditated lie, in itself displays some towering mendacity.”

As far as I know, I am the only person to have asked what would have happened if neither major party had reached agreement with the Independents. It’s as much a key to events as the statements by the two party leaders.

The PM did what she had to do to form government, and carbon pricing was on her agenda anyway. The PM did not do a good job of explaining her position or her plan for carbon pricing. Since the victory of Labor in the Kevin ’07 election, Labor has been pathetic at selling its achievements and defending itself against its critics.

Every word I have written above is based on facts and you can find all of them on YouTube or by searching on Google. You will not find much mention of it in the mainstream news media because they would rather you forget.

It is important that on 7 September you do not forget the misery that Mr Abbott has subjected this country to for the past three years, or more. And please, ask yourself why this man wants total control of both of our federal Houses of Parliament.

See also Carbon Tax Myths, a Google site created by @delpjm, for a detailed summary of the history of carbon “tax”/pricing/ETS in Australia.

Update: Ms Gillard has spoken about her time as PM in two public interviews with journalist and author Anne Summers, on 30 September and 1 October, 2013. In the second interview, Ms Gillard admitted she made a political error in conceding the scheme she had introduced was a “carbon tax”.

“It is an emissions trading scheme with a fixed price for the first three years, and any iteration of an emissions trading scheme basically starts with a price that someone fixes,” she said.

The first interview, recorded by the ABC:

The second interview, recorded by Sky News:

Earlier proposals for a carbon trading scheme were put forward by economist Ross Garnaut. On the day after Labor’s carbon price became effective Garnaut was interviewed on the ABC’s  Business program. He makes it clear that what is referred to as Gilard’s “tax” is in effect a price on carbon. [courtesy @delpjm]

In his blog, Grog’s Gamut makes detailed reference to Gillard’s efforts to explain her intentions and what appears to be resistance from political journalists bordering on harassment. [courtesy @delpjm]

Former Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s focus on “carbon tax” robbed the public of the debate it should have been having on appropriate action on climate change. Former Independent federal MP Rob Oakeshott wrote about this deflection in an article for The Global Mail.

And, recently come to light, two articles, both with no by-line, from

Yes, I vowed no carbon tax [sic] — Julia Gillard

Petrol freeze mooted to offset carbon tax [sic]


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