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Ken Borough 27th Aug 2013 03:14

From today's press

Why we should not trust Tony Abbott

''We will be a no surprises, no excuses government You could trust us in opposition and you will be able to trust us in government This election is all about trust.''
- Tony Abbott, policy speech, Sunday

OK, we can't trust Kevin Rudd. But should we trust Tony Abbott? Could we trust him in opposition? Will we be able to trust him in government?

Abbott has set the bar high. ''We will be a no surprises, no excuses government,'' he declares. He has ruled out any tax increases - although on a rare interview with Fran Kelly on Radio National, he refused to rule out bigger spending cuts than those to be (eventually) outlined in the campaign.

It's a message of reassurance, aimed at blunting comparisons with the Howard government and Campbell Newman's government in Queensland. Howard said he would cut 2500 public service jobs, then wiped out 30,000 of them. Newman promised no public service cuts, then cut 14,000 jobs. With the honourable exception of Ted Baillieu, recent Coalition governments have treated campaign promises as something you use to win elections, then discard once you're in power.

In pledging to repair ''the trust deficit'', Abbott is aiming at Kevin Rudd's weakest point. Last week's Age/Nielsen poll found only 36 per cent of Australians see the PM as trustworthy; 59 per cent view him as untrustworthy.

But most Australians also distrust Abbott. Only 43 per cent consider him trustworthy, and 53 per cent as untrustworthy. The least trusting are women of childbearing age; they are also the most hostile to his paid parental leave policy, perhaps because most would get far less than the $75,000 payouts that well-off women will receive.

Trust is a big call. In my experience, politicians on both sides tend to work out what's in their interest, then tell us that they're doing it just for us. What drives them is the politics of the issue, not its merits. Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott are typical.

An example: Abbott's frequent claim, repeated in his policy speech, that Australia has ''20,000 more public servants than in 2007''.

We have three data sources. The number of public servants is tracked by the Australian Public Service Commission. Between June 2007 and June 2012, it says, public service numbers grew by just 13,156. A third of that growth was in 2007-08, under the Howard government's last budget. From 2008 to 2012, they grew by just 8840.

The Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Finance track government employment, which includes the Defence forces and military reserves. The bureau says that grew by 17,800 between June 2007 and June 2012. Of them, 4700 were added in 2007-08, and just 13,100 since June 2008.

The Finance Department estimates that between June 2007 and June 2013 total staff grew by 18,753. But 8150 of that growth was in the military and defence contractors.

Take them out, and the rest grew by 10,603. Of that, 7934 was in 2007-08, but just 2669 since, with a net 4305 jobs wiped out since 2011 as Labor has cut agencies' budgets.

There never were 20,000 extra public servants, and Abbott knows it. It is a line that goes down well with the focus groups, so he keeps repeating it. But it is untrue.

Take climate change. As David Marr recounts in Political Animal: the Making of Tony Abbott, Abbott supported an emissions trading scheme, if erratically, until Nick Minchin persuaded him that ''the only way to avoid a catastrophic split inside the Coalition was to reject the ETS''. Four months after writing an op-ed piece to support emissions trading, Abbott challenged and overthrew Malcolm Turnbull because he refused to abandon it.

''Abbott positioned himself with enough wiggle room to put the science aside and only play the politics,'' Marr writes of his transformation to crusader against a carbon price.

Soon Abbott was telling us that a carbon price ''will make every job less secure play havoc with household budgets hit every Australian's cost of living ''

Could we trust that? No. Treasury forecast that the carbon tax would raise prices by just 0.7 per cent, and Westpac economists estimate the reality was even less. Inflation in 2012-13 was just its usual level, 2.4 per cent. Most households received more compensation than they paid in extra cost.

Nothing has worked better for Abbott than his success in persuading Australians that the carbon tax would make them worse off. But it was a phoney scare campaign, nothing more.

Refugee policy is outside my beat, fortunately, because I see no solution that does not break one or other cardinal principle of policy. Either we turn our backs on people with good reason to flee their country, or we surrender control of immigration policy.

Father Frank Brennan believes there is a solution but it will take time, patience and quiet diplomacy. In his recent Barry Marshall lecture at Trinity College (on the ABC's religion webpage), he argues:

''The only way to stop the boats ethically is to negotiate a regional agreement with Indonesia and Malaysia this would take a considerable period of time, a good cheque book, and a strong commitment to detailed backroom diplomatic work avoiding the megaphone diplomacy which has marked this issue of late.''

Abbott has recognised this by declaring that, as prime minister, his first overseas trip would be to Jakarta - and it's obvious why. Whatever new policies the Coalition tries, they will work only if Indonesia co-operates.

I hope he understands that Indonesia has 10 times Australia's population, a bigger economy, and a future as one of the key countries in the world. We need it more than it needs us. We can't tell it what to do.

The real disappointment of Abbott's campaign is that he doesn't trust us. Economists estimate the funding gap in the Coalition's promises at $30 billion to $35 billion over the next four years. But Abbott won't tell us how he will close that gap until the final days, fearing we would be less likely to vote for him if we knew what he plans to do.

How can we trust anyone who won't tell us how he will make us pay for his promises? Let buyers beware.

Tim Colebatch is economics editor of The Age.

Control Your Financial Situation. Find A Qualified Planner Near You!

Worrals in the wilds 27th Aug 2013 03:19

Kev got caught out this morning with some paid stooges pretending to have their kids in the local pre-school.
They should sack whoever's organising this stuff. Between that and the 'nurse' actor who's actually a lawyer, they're destroying what little integrity the ALP had :ugh:.

With a political campaign to an Aussie audience you're always better off using the daggy real thing than hiring the best looking, most charismatic fake in the world. Maybe it's different in the USA (this may be the work of the latest imported spin doctors :rolleyes:) but IMO it doesn't work here.

Abbott may not be trustworthy either (and the Liberal Party even less so :suspect:) but he doesn't have to be. He just has to be more trustworthy than Rudd, and these campaign own goals are making it even easier for him.

Dark Knight 27th Aug 2013 03:45

OK, we can't trust Kevin Rudd

There is your answer!

Buster Hyman 27th Aug 2013 03:54

Why we should not trust Tony Abbott
Independant. Always. :rolleyes:

bosnich71 27th Aug 2013 04:18

I can't believe that anyone listens to Marr never mind reads anything authored by him.

RJM 27th Aug 2013 04:35

His mum used to read his stuff...

Cactusjack 27th Aug 2013 04:59

Article in the SMH says Rudd wants to spend billions to relocate the Navy to Brisbane, Darwin, Cairns and Townsville.
Makes sense you say with the biggest threat coming from the North? Perhaps. But why now? Where will the billions come from? Wankers! He said the current infrastructure in Sydney needs replacing. No shit Sherlock! Most of our countries infrastructure is rooted.
He has also been spruiking billions for high speed rail and billions for a Sydney airport where incredibly he said 'if we don't have the proper infrastructure the economy will stall'!! No shit Sherlock! Too late you bunch of arse clowns. We ARE stalled. And maybe he should add a commitment to the Bruce Highway which is also 30+ years past its use by date and needs urgent upgrading from top to bottom.
You know each election becomes nauseating. Every 3 years sees a litany of broken promises and a decline in our living and operating standards due to successive governments sitting on their thumbs. Those not sitting on their thumbs are playing hand puppets below the boardroom table in Parliament House. I can't believe we have to endure this shit. As a tax payer I am infuriated by how much I late each year and what I get in return - SFA.
Why can't we do what the French did and if they break their promises or don't stop loading there own pockets while us peasants get shat on we just hang them from a stake?

Ken Borough 27th Aug 2013 05:05

Que? :zzz:

Buster Hyman 27th Aug 2013 05:13

The Age - Business, World & Breaking News | Melbourne, Australia


500N 27th Aug 2013 05:13


The Naval infrastructure doesn't need replacing. Yes, it needs some
money spent it but the basic port is fine for habouring big navy ships.

The real reason he wants to shift everything to Brisbane is because
they want to sell the land at Garden Island.

Brisbane does NOT have a deep water port to handle Navy ships.
Cairns and Darwin already host Patrol Boats and the res of the fleet
is located at the East and West Coast bases of Perth and Sydney.

From those two locations you can sail anywhere you want including
north if required if the Patrol Boats can't handle it.

The whole concept is BS.

bosnich71 27th Aug 2013 05:20

RJM ........ well you learn something new every day, Marr had a Mum. Thankyou for that.:)

CoodaShooda 27th Aug 2013 05:36

The least trusting are women of childbearing age; they are also the most hostile to his paid parental leave policy, perhaps because most would get far less than the $75,000 payouts that well-off women will receive.
So they would all prefer to receive labor's average weekly earnings rather than their possibly higher wage? Pulleeeaaassse.

Speaks more of the attitude of the entitled class than anything else.

Ken Borough 27th Aug 2013 05:37

Sorry Buster but my observation/question is obviously a wee bit too subtle for you. I guess you missed Media Watch last night when it reported on the 'objectivity' of Murdoch's tabloids? I would debate with anyone that the SMH and The Age are far more independent and objective than any of the trash that comes from News Corp or whatever it's now called. I will however concede that the Hun offers superb footy coverage when compared with what used to be 'the big paper'. :ok:

bosnich71 27th Aug 2013 05:39

Ref. the Fish heads moving up to Darwin .... another site has a report of O'Farrell barging into Rudd's press announcement and giving the great leader an ear bashing. Is this Kosher ? Anyone heard anything ? :D

Buster Hyman 27th Aug 2013 05:42

Media Watch. That's on the ALPBC right? Must've missed it.

Anyway, it appears that I'm not the only one to miss the subtlety....

500N 27th Aug 2013 05:50


How long has the Age had

"Independent. Always" under it's mast head ?

I noticed it the other week.

Andu 27th Aug 2013 05:57

Article in the SMH says Rudd wants to spend billions to relocate the Navy to Brisbane, Darwin, Cairns and Townsville.
Rudd has achieved his purpose with this supposedly 'shoot from the hip' fanciful statement - distraction.

Every man and his dog in the media is running with it and therefore staying away from topics KRudd would rather avoid. Even if it lasts only 24 hours, (and it will probably have longer legs than that), he's bought himself 24 hours (or whatever) of airtime free from embarrassing questions about his myriad other debacles.

The Yanks are earning their keep - and far more professionally than the Scots/Pom clown who STILL won't go away because they remain faceless and nameless - as true spin doctors/PR professionals should.

CoodaShooda 27th Aug 2013 06:15

O'Farrell apparently fronted Rudd at a press call and commented that various past PM's would have at least called him to tell him in advance of the proposal to shift the Navy.

It seems that Kevni is having PR problems whenever he steps outside these days. Must be time for more Syrian briefings to keep him in his Canberra office.

There was a report somewhere recently that an academic has completed a study demonstrating Fairfax headlines to be more biased than Murdoch's.
But it was probably published by the Murdoch press.

500N 27th Aug 2013 06:19

Actually, O'Farrell is spot on, defence might be National
but it is normally common courtesy to involve the State

Then again, Rudd knows it is BS so probably thought why
waste the time letting him know :O

Ken Borough 27th Aug 2013 07:10


I didn't see that report though the Fairfax media is also imperfect.

Could I suggest that if anyone wants to see some comments as to the Murdoch objectivity, take a look at last night's Media Watch

ABC iview

Yair, I concede that the ABC is also imperfect but at least the broadcasters on its network are not perpetually shouting at their listeners like some of the commercial radio 'shock jocks'. And unlike commercial radio and television, the ABC does a pretty good job by offering intelligent debate on current issues.

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