No matter how they try to spin things in their favor, the undeniable fact is that Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott lied about their plans for Gonski. How can I prove they lied? Because nothing has changed between now and before the election, when they agreed to a bipartisan approach to Labor’s Gonski educational funding model. They have not been forced to make a deal with a minor party to hold power. There has not been some huge budget black hole discovered that changes the funding commitment by the previous Labor government. The same person who made the promise to implement the Gonski reforms as Shadow Minister for Education, is now Minister for Education. This backflip is not about changed circumstances. This is about ideology around privilege, rich independent schools and the innate advantage that Abbott’s government thinks rich children deserve to have over poor children who go to publically funded schools. Gonski, the great equaliser, threatened this ideology. So Pyne and Abbott have lied. And they’ve wasted no time in doing it – which proves that they’re arrogant enough to think they can get away with anything, and they have total contempt for the people of Australia who voted for them, expecting them to be true to their word on Gonski.
As much as I could write about this huge porky of a dishonest, bald-faced, down-right scum-bag lie for this entire post, I’m not going to do that because that’s not what this post is about. What this post is about is our society, and particularly our media’s and minor party’s obsession with broken promises. When in actual fact, we should care little about broken promises. We should care little about ‘holding politicians to account’ to deliver what they promised. Did you hear that GetUp? What we should really care about, and what we should be passionately trying to defend is policy which is in the community interest. If someone promises to do something terrible, and then back-flips and does good instead, let’s congratulate them. Let’s not act like 5 year olds and point the finger and say ‘they lied, that’s bad’ without actually looking past the words and deciding whether the outcome is judged as positive or negative for us all.
Let me give you an example. The Abbott government should be judged harshly for lying about the Gonski education funding model. They have shown through their backflip that their support for this policy was a vote winning maneuver and nothing more. Yet, there are plenty of other policies of the Abbott government which I would support them lying about. They promised to ‘turn back the boats’. Turns out they can’t do this. But if they had come out after the election and said ‘we’ve decided it’s unsafe to turn boats back, so we’re not going to deliver on our promise to do this. Sorry about that bigots, but we have to do the right thing’, I would applaud this. If they had taken over government and suddenly decided it was time to become responsible human beings and take seriously the warnings of climate scientists, I would have applauded them. If they lied about cancelling the Carbon Tax, sure, I would be pretty miffed that they won an election by mobilizing the selfishness of our most petty and immature Australians to win government, but as long as I ended up with a price on carbon, I would be happier than I would be to living in a country without one. Lie away! Save the planet! And if Joe Hockey was intelligent and brave enough to admit that the revenue from the Mining Tax is not something that can be raised by increasing taxes to our lowest income earners, and therefore broke his promise about getting rid of this tax, who wouldn’t respect this decision? Do you see what I’m getting at? It’s fine to be outraged with Pyne for lying about a policy which had huge benefit for our community. But if politicians lie so that they end up doing something good instead of evil, we shouldn’t be ‘holding them to account’. We should be shaking their hands.
I know you saw this one coming, so here it is. The obsession with Julia Gillard’s Carbon Price lie falls into the category of a ‘backflip which should be welcomed’. But the immature media, the screaming Liberals, the far too easily conned electorate, never gave the policy enough thought to get past the ‘she said she’d do one thing before the election, and then did something else! JULIAR!’. No matter that the policy was actually a carbon price, not a carbon tax, which taxi drivers were not going to pay – just companies who profit by polluting the atmosphere. No matter that the Carbon Price policy was just a transition into an Emissions Trading Scheme, which Gillard did promise to implement before the election. This wasn’t even an official backflip. It was a half-pike at best. No matter that the only reason Gillard didn’t do as she promised was because of negotiations with the Greens to form a minority government (she wasn’t expecting a hung-parliament). No matter all of these things, Gillard was crucified for lying, when really she should have been congratulated for doing the right thing. The Carbon Price was in our community’s interest, whether huge numbers of our community wanted to admit this or not.
So yes – let’s maintain the rage about Pyne’s lie – but only because he is taking something from us that was hugely beneficial. But if Abbott’s government chooses to lie about any of the Liberal’s other policies, which are quite easily judged as being bad for our country, let’s not discourage back-flips. Let’s hold people to account for doing something in our interest, not for ‘sticking to their word’, a word that was used to manipulate scared and petty people into doing the wrong thing for everyone. Let’s encourage people to act as adults. And let’s act as adults ourselves and hold politicians to account for doing the right thing. Full stop.