Five words sum up federal opposition leader Tony Abbott's response to some sharp questions put to him by journalist Leigh Sales in the August 22 episode of ABC TV's 7.30: Liar, liar, pants on fire!
If you need a good example of a person with a chronic disposition to lie, this is it. Read the transcript or watch the video, then imagine the same interview — except conducted after Abbott was given a dose of truth serum.
Perhaps it would go something like this.
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LEIGH SALES: You were pretty loose with the truth today, weren't you, when you said that BHP's decision to put the Olympic Dam project on hold was partly due to the federal government’s new taxes?
TONY ABBOTT: You’ve got me there Leigh. I was making it up to suit my party's interests. BHP has put this investment on hold because of the state of the world capitalist economy, which is in severe crisis.
It is in crisis because of three decades of unbridled corporate greed and decades of massive corporate speculation too — on a scale you’d never see in any casino. Now the world banking system is in trouble, and as BHP chief Marius Kloppers said, this has pushed up the price of raising capital.
The economies of Europe, Japan and the US are in the doldrums and that is finally having an impact on China and other newly industrialising countries. And then Fukushima has just about killed off the corporate nuclear dream. So basically, BHP is not sure it can sell all the copper, gold and uranium it planned to dig up from an expanded Olympic Dam.
LEIGH SALES: Tony Abbott, on the carbon tax you’ve been saying that it would be a wrecking ball through the economy ... Are you once again being a little bit loose with the facts there?
TONY ABBOTT: Totally loose with the facts, Leigh. That’s my job, you see. Truth doesn’t come into it, not at all. My job is to attack, attack, attack, blame, blame and blame the government again and again. The calculation is throw enough mud and some will stick.
If I was to tell the truth about the economy I'd have to admit that its future depends not on the carbon tax, the mining tax or any other tax for that matter — it all depends on the global capitalist economic crisis.
All the capitalist governments around the world have been trying to fix it by socialising the losses after decades of privatising the gains. The ALP government has been doing it here and if the Liberal National Coalition were in government, we would have done the same. But the problem, Leigh, is that it doesn't seem to have fixed the system.
Look, Leigh, it is against my party's policy and interests for me to say this, but this is the truth. The problem is the capitalist system. It has, excuse my language, fucked everything up.
The environment, communities, public services like health, education and housing and now even our own capitalist banking system. It's an incredible mess. I don't know how we are going to get out of it. It could lead to, God forbid, a new age of barbarism.
LEIGH SALES: Why have you referred repeatedly to illegal asylum boats coming to Australia? Do you accept that that's illegal and that seeking asylum by any means is legal?
TONY ABBOTT: What I normally say, Leigh, is that most of the people who come to Australia by boat have passed through several countries on the way and if they simply wanted asylum they could have claimed that in any of the countries through which they’d passed.
This is why Australia has absolutely no legal obligation to treat them like asylum seekers, with the rights Australia agreed to respect under the UN refugee conventions.
But that’s a porky too, Leigh. It's my job to lie about these poor, miserable people fleeing war, economic and environmental devastation. I know its mean-spirited and, frankly, an absolutely morally bankrupt position. But you know, that's politics.
If I was to speak the truth about this issue I would say that the way we treat these asylum seekers (and as an aside, Leigh, the overwhelming majority of these “boat people” are vindicated as genuine refugees once they get their chance to do so) is as bad as all those governments that turned away the MS St Louis in 1939. It was full of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi-ruled Germany.
It's shocking, isn't it Leigh?
But I feel really odd, saying all this. I don't know what has come over me. I don't feel too good. Perhaps I need to lie down ...
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I guess we can only imagine. But in the real world we need to fight Abbott and the rest of the lying, scheming, cheating, exploiting and oppressing class that he represents. Help Green Left expose and fight them by chipping in online to the Green Left Weekly fighting fund this week.
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