There are some cynics who argue that Tony Abbott is a lying scumbag who wouldn't know the truth if it was tattooed on Rupert Murdoch's arse. Or, to put it another way, if it was right in front of his face.
But this is demonstratively false, because Abbott told us in his February 1 YouTube video “Delivering on Our Promises” that “not a single illegal boat has arrived since mid-December”.
This statement is perfectly true. The boats that there is plenty of evidence have arrived since mid-December were, as Abbott correctly points out, not illegal. Rather, they carried people using their right under international law, according to a refugee convention Australia has signed, to seek asylum.
Now I don't want to accuse Abbott of a sudden outbreak of deliberate honesty. The truth in his statement was purely accidental. It came as a result of telling too many lies.
Abbott could have simply lied that the boats were illegal, or lied that none had come. But combine the two and they cancel each other out, the way a double negative makes a positive.
Abbott's rate of lying is impressive, however. The phrase “no illegal boats since mid-December” is only five words long, but it contains two big lies. That is just over one for every two words, an average that is surely world-standard.
Abbott's commitment to lying goes so far as to declare seeking the truth to be “unAustralian”. So when asylum seekers — who, if we take Abbott's word, mustn't exist as they claim to have reached Australian land on New Year's Day — accused the Australian Navy of torturing them, Abbott took to the airwaves to slam the ABC for its lack of patriotism for reporting the claims.
With the threat of a “review” of its resources hanging over its head, a cowed ABC issued an “apology” for not taking the navy's word for it, but unfortunately, it seems the unAustralian rot is deep in the media. The Fairfax press then began running fresh allegations from the asylum seekers of abuse at the hands of the Navy.
Shockingly, they were joined in this unAustralian activity by the Jakarta Globe and even the BBC! What are we coming to when the world's media can be so unAustralian as to refuse to simply take our navy's words at face value?
There are times, however, that the federal government is genuinely, even shockingly honest. For instance, with its 18-page comic aimed at asylum seekers from Afghanistan that has been produced by the Customs and Border Protection Service.
It seeks to deter Afghans from trying to come to this country by pointing out they will be intercepted by a sinister and threatening Australian Navy, placed behind barbedwire and then flown to a worse prison camp on an isolated island, leaving asylum seekers in utter despair and misery.
Which is all quite true, but you have to give the Abbott government points for its unique approach. Few governments go about promoting themselves around the world on the basis of, “Trust us, we truly are a bunch of utter pricks”.
This charming comic is combined with a new page on the immigration department's website directed at would-be asylum seekers that features map with Australia crossed out.
Alongside this image, taken directly from the infamously racist “Fuck off, we're full” bumper stickers, are the words in big, red writing: “NO WAY”.
The tag line reads: “They will not make Australia home.”
Let's not forget this message is directed at desperate people in dire need of assistance, fleeing such horrors as the Taliban or the genocidal Sri Lankan regime. With that in mind, I'll say one thing for this government ― it almost makes the KKK look good, on the grounds that at least those racist thugs have the basic common decency to hide their faces.