Liar? Tony Goes The Full Abbott – the flexible truth in #Auspol

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23 Aug 2012

Tony Goes The Full Abbott


The Opposition Leader let it all hang out on the 7.30 Report last night. Just how loose with the truth did he get? NM looked at the transcript and dug up some answers to the questions raised by the Opposition Leader

Tony Abbott’s complicated relationship with the truth has been on the public record for a long time. Just over two years ago he admitted in an interview with Kerry O’Brien that “sometimes, in the heat of discussion, you go a little bit further than you would if it was an absolutely calm, considered, prepared, scripted remark, which is one of the reasons why the statements that need to be taken absolutely as gospel truth is those carefully prepared scripted remarks”.

His various gaffes, withdrawals and evasions are now so numerous they warrant compilation in a handy reference guide.

But in last night’s 7:30 interview with Leigh Sales, the Opposition Leader went “full Abbott”. Nobody should have been surprised, but as he bulldozed one question after another, the extent of the Liberal party’s preference for “truth creation” became clear. This is what an Abbott Prime Ministership will look like — not a cobra strike on the truth, but a python squeeze.

Ben Eltham discusses the closure of BHP’s Olympic Dam project elsewhere at New Matilda today, but here’s an examination of how “loose with the truth” the Opposition leader got at a few key points of last night’s interview.

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: Most of the people who are coming 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. […] I think that people should come to Australia through the front door, not through the back door. If people want a migration outcome, they should go through the migration channels.

Despite being repeatedly pressed on the point. Abbott refused to acknowledge that it is legal to seek asylum in Australian — regardless of the means of arrival.

There is no orderly resettlement process for asylum seekers. The myth of the queue has been well and truly debunked. The UNHCR estimates there are 800,000 refugees at large in the world at any one time, and only 80,000 resettlement places offered under the standard refugee process.  As Jenny Haines wrote in NM this week, refugees want to come in the front door, but get desperate from waiting. A system of risk-based visa requirements also serves to arbitrarily exclude many refugees from the process altogether — stopping them from using the “migration channels” in the first place.

“If they were happy with temporary protection visas, then they might be able to argue better that they were asylum seekers…”

There’s no evidence that “legitimate” refugees are better identified and processed under a Temporary Protection Visa scheme. In fact, the exact opposite is true; as Rimi Khan wrote in NM,  “the black and white world of Howard’s [TPV] bureaucracy was unable and unwilling to accommodate any uncertainty”, and excluded refugees whose situations were complex.

And anyway, TPVs were never meant to identify legitimate refugees. Rather they were designed, as Abbott told Sales, to stop “permanent residency”. They failed in that regard too, encouraging asylum seekers to travel as a family, rather than sending one member ahead, because the TPV scheme did not allow husbands access to the family reunion program. It is unlikely that many refugees were deterred by TPVs.

“Well, I’ve told you that we will certainly address the flexibility problem, the militancy problem, the productivity problem and we’ll do so in good time before the next election, Leigh.”

As Ian McAuley noted recently, flexibility and productivity are hardly a problem for Australian business. “In fact,” he wrote, “labour turnover (a measure of flexibility) has remained unchanged over the last 10 years, industrial disputes have continued their downward trend, and productivity is rising steeply.”

On any measurement, union militancy is at a low ebb, ironically because of the government’s Fair Work legislation, as Claire Pullen pointed out this week. In fact, most industrial action now takes place at the state level. Remove those from the picture, “and the number of strikes in the federal system wouldn’t just continue its downward trend; it would fall off a cliff”.

LEIGH SALES: Well when exactly because business, I’m sure, would like certainty. You spoke about BHP being worried about uncertainty earlier.

TONY ABBOTT: And I’m offering them the certainty of the abolition of the carbon tax, the certainty of the abolition of the mining tax. I want to see an end to sovereign risk questions over Australia.

Crikey’s Bernard Keane roundly demolished the sovereign risk lie this time last year, identifying it as pure rentseeking by the Liberal party and business lobby:

“The data has comprehensively demolished the claim about sovereign risk. It was absurd last year when the share prices of Australian miners were outperforming those of foreign-based miners amid claims the RSPT would destroy the industry. It’s even more demonstrably absurd now.”

The miners are doing fine, but the one sector that could use some “certainty” is the renewables industry, who have been the real victims of politicking over the carbon price and MRRT.

TONY ABBOTT: I think the circumstances of her departure from a previous employer are of public interest, but in the end it’s not whether she was an unethical lawyer that matters, it’s the fact that this is an untrustworthy prime minister that counts, and that’s the main game for us.

It’s easy to tune out when Abbott starts to recite his talking points. Julia Gillard is a liar, we can stop the boats, the carbon tax is destroying the economy, people seeking asylum are illegals.

And no, there wasn’t much that was new or unpredictable in Abbott’s performance last night, but the departures from the truth were so numerous and so egregious that they warrant comment.

Leigh Sales’ efforts to hold Abbott to account were admirable, but they didn’t work. To hear the alternative Prime Minister hold out on the very simple question of whether or not it’s legal to seek asylum was a grim portent of what’s to come. It displayed a disdain for the truth, for Sales, and for voters.

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Posted Thursday, 23 August 12 at 2:15PM

TA: “Most of the people who are coming 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.”

Really, Mr. Abbott. Would you care to mention which of those “several countries” are signatories of the UN Convention on Refugees, which actually gives minimum legal protections to asylum seekers? Because that’s the minimum level that’s required for a country to be considered a safe place for asylum.

(Which is why I am not too grumpy about the latest iteration of Nauru and PNG, but damn right opposed to Malaysia).

But yes, good to see a real, hard-hitting set of questions. A particularly terrible performance by Mr. Abbott; he sounded like a first-term bumbling backbencher.

This user is a New Matilda supporter.


Posted Thursday, 23 August 12 at 2:35PM

Yes, ridiculous really. The Liberal Party also refused to participate in the Malaysia proposal because it would be unreasonable to send refugees to a country that hasn’t signed the UN convention. Yet there he is saying that refugees in Malaysia shouldn’t try to leave.

Posted Thursday, 23 August 12 at 2:50PM

I just loved it when Abbott continually refused to answer Sales questions and then complained that Gillard did not answer a question during QT. Leigh Sales burst out laughing, no doubt at the utter hypocrisy of Abbott, but applied self control and asked the next question…to no avail of course. Abbott made an utter goose of himself. Am I seeing and hearing things, or has the ABC finally started to ignore the rantings of tories and ask the hard questions? I note that Peter Reith is no longer allowed to mouth off against the government on the Drum now without being checked. Chris Uhlman no longer has powder puff interviews with Abbott. Has the worm turned?

Posted Thursday, 23 August 12 at 3:22PM

Talk about calling Abbott loose with the truth, have you heard the name GILLARD?

Oh that’s right she’s female, Labor, so she always tells the truth….

Get real you people!!!!

paul walter
Posted Thursday, 23 August 12 at 3:35PM

The rest of parliament put together are amateurs, compared to pathological Abbott when it comes to full on arrogance and lying.

Posted Thursday, 23 August 12 at 3:37PM

Nice attempt to bait and switch, ozzydazz. But really, we’re not claiming that two wrongs make a right, and, in any case, it’s been gone over to the nth degree about Gillard’s “no carbon tax under a government I lead”, along with the responses which I hope you avail yourself to.

But for this thread, please try sticking to the topic at hand.

This user is a New Matilda supporter.


Posted Thursday, 23 August 12 at 3:39PM

What does Abbot care, most voters believe what Murdoch’s minions tell them. He could be caught out a thousand times on the ABC, the average commercial TV viewer or News Ltd reader will never know.

This user is a New Matilda supporter.


Posted Thursday, 23 August 12 at 3:54PM

Fair point ‘lev_lafayette’, grow up ‘ozzydazz’. Your response smaks of petulance and ignorance. No wonder you defend Abbott, the greatest weapon in Julia Gillard’s arsenal for re-election. I could only watch and cringe briefly as Abbott continues to mock intelligence, integrity, and Federal politics. Gender, religion and political persuasion are irelevant with this bloke ozzy. I think it’s termed ‘flogging a dead horse’.

Posted Thursday, 23 August 12 at 4:31PM

Uhlmann kept to his Tory script this A.M. on ABC774 with Jon Faine…replacing Barrie Cassidy for wrap of Federal politics…stuck to defending Abbott and pounding Gillard…he just cant help himself and was determined not to let JF deter him from his script…so we may have seen one or two take downs of Abbott by Faine and Sales (brilliant that they were) but ABC and MSM have a very long way to go to make up for two solid years of letting Abbott get away with his lies and misinformation and the free kicks they have joyfully given him and never held him to account.
Faine & Sales takedowns? About bloody time. Lets hope they keep it up. Dee

Posted Thursday, 23 August 12 at 5:34PM

Tony is our only hope. Labor will end up ruining us all. Leigh Sales’ points were tedious and untrue.

What about lies about Tony?

Posted Thursday, 23 August 12 at 5:45PM

Hey, Booza

You lefties just can’t take the slightest criticism, can you? Gillard lies every time she opens her gob.

Posted Thursday, 23 August 12 at 5:48PM

But then I suppose criticism of Abbot is the only card you hold. You certainly can’t offer any other reason for voting labor. Your track record is crap. I suggest you play it for all you’re worth come election time. You have no POSITIVES on your said.

This user is a New Matilda supporter.


Posted Friday, 24 August 12 at 1:20AM

LifeMasque, If your defence of Tony Abbott is that WELL JULIA LIES AS WELL OMG!!! then you’ve equated the leader you hate so much with your precious leader.

So Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard are just as bad as each other, well said LifeMasque.

Posted Friday, 24 August 12 at 11:05AM

No wonder you don’t see him pop up much on the ABC. No fawning radio Shock Jock here – instead a real journalist asking probing questions and exposing him for what he is – a fraud who still has not accepted that he did not win the last election and who did not have the personal or political skills to negotiate his way into government.
As the election draws near, one hopes other journalists start behaving as such and force the Liberals to justify why they deserve to be elected rather then rely on their ingrained “Born to Rule” mentality.

Posted Friday, 24 August 12 at 11:05AM

No wonder you don’t see him pop up much on the ABC. No fawning radio Shock Jock here – instead a real journalist asking probing questions and exposing him for what he is – a fraud who still has not accepted that he did not win the last election and who did not have the personal or political skills to negotiate his way into government.
As the election draws near, one hopes other journalists start behaving as such and force the Liberals to justify why they deserve to be elected rather then rely on their ingrained “Born to Rule” mentality.

Alex Njoo
Posted Friday, 24 August 12 at 3:42PM

Alex Njoo
The spectre of Tony Abbott leading this country after the next election is too horrendous to ponder, even for his followers. Abbott is not a Howard who became politically matured during his term of office. Everything about Abbott looks wrong, the way he swaggers rather than walk normally, he’s at most times inartiulate and gives the impression (from his facial expressions) that he doesn’t undertand the questions he’s asked. Like Julie Bishop, he’s not credible. And if his ardent followers can’t see this, then the country is poorer.
There’s no variation in his attacks on the PM. To him, she’s always a liar. To him, the carbon/resource tax is the Armageddon of this country. Never mind that he’s never spell out his policy or anything. Aided and abetted by News Ltd and their stable of right-wing journos, Bolt, Albrechtsen, et al, the next Coalition government will be led by this man whose faux prime-ministerial performance so far borders on the political hilarity. Imagine Abbott goofishly stomping the world stage on our behalf. Please give us a break!
PS To all you shock jocks/commercial telly presenters out there, watch the ABC and learn what being real journalists are all about. No abuses or falsifications (get that Jones, Bolt etc.?), just good old fashioned true journalism.

Posted Friday, 24 August 12 at 5:24PM

@ Alex Njoo,
By and large I find little to argue with in your contribution save one small point of definition .
A journalist should strive to inform the people objectively …The ‘O’ word is simply a foreign language word to both.
I suggest that neither Bolt or Ms A are journalist they are overpaid columnists. Paid to entertain by pandering to a pre-set the quasi intellectual and it’s pretenders on the right.
The shock jocks are there to entertain by pandering to the prejudices of the LOWEST common denominator.
Come to think of that is exactly what Tony and his ‘liberals’ are doing.
I feel deeply for those in the Libs who can think and realize TA is a retrogressive step.
Just imagine TA is notionally ( better educated) smarter than Howard . I wonder what his excuse is!

This user is a New Matilda supporter.


Posted Friday, 24 August 12 at 7:19PM


At one time 70% of all our Politicians had a law background.

Abbott Economics/Law.

The three longest serving Prime Ministers in Aust. History have the same thing in common, LAW.
Menzies was a Barrister and he was known as the man who could talk all day and tell you nothing.

Bob Hawk was Senior Council or what ever they called him and he was known as the Bull shit artist.

The came Johnny WINSTON (another great Aust War Time Leader) Howard, with his Family traditions in war Mongering who turned Lying into an ART FORM.
Core Promises, Tampa, Children Thrown over board etc. etc.

Julia Gillard another Lawyer who Cried to the Yanks, yoou saved my home land and I’m not very clever when it comes to history. BLAAAAAH< BLAAAH< BLAH.

Have any of you ever wondered what Law students learn, study and what they Practise.

British Law, our law system, is an advarserial system, its not evidence based as the French or German. Being advarserial law students learn to debate, in otherwords they learn how to bullshit and win the argument. Right or Wrong does not come into it.

If you understand the Principals behind our system of law and how it is fought, how and what Law students are taught, you will understand what is wrong with Abbott, Gillard, Howard and all the other Lawyers in our Political System past and present.

It is their Lawyer skills and the Media advisors that have twisted the whole thing against the people.

Until you address that, good luck.

Recent Article about Law Students:
“Interestingly, research has found that 40 per cent of law students, 20 per cent of barristers and 33 per cent of solicitors have a mental illness. It is from that demographic that a judicial officer is drawn. In the past 12 months three barristers have sadly taken their own lives. In recent years, two judges have also sadly taken their own lives. The Bar Association, the Law Society, the medical profession and many other professional institutions have schemes in place to assist members with mental illness.”

Posted Saturday, 25 August 12 at 10:46AM

It seems to me that Tony Abbott has had a free ride from too much of the media for too long. It is about time the profligate deceiver and political vandal was held to full account for his monotonous fact-allergic assertions.

The media must give serious and proper scrutiny of alternative governments and their leaders, otherwise it can be seen to be failing in its public duty and becomes part of the problem (picking winners, taking sides, obscuring truths) rather than part of the solution (revealing truths, accountability, transparency, factual rigour).

If this is what Abbott is like as Opposition Leader now, imagine and tremble at what he might be like as Prime Minister, particularly if elected with a big majority as past polls have suggested. Should he be elected, if he expects an easy ride, he’d better think again. The tide of negativity he has unleashed will sooner or later wash back against him like a tsunami. What he has sown, so shall he reap.

We can expect that an Abbott-led government would seek to rewrite political history according to his own deceitful narratives and further his trashing of the Labor government’s objectively excellent economic management through the most globally turbulent economic time since The Great Depression. Given the sophistry that comes from his cabinet colleagues whenever there is good news for the government, they have been well indoctrinated into the Abbott methods of inveiglement.

Tony Abbott’s predominant skill is that he had led the way in signalling to the Australian people that it is ok to hold Julia Gillard in contempt and personally blame her (and the “carbon tax” and mining tax, of course). Labor did the same thing with John Howard and ultimately succeeded but at least, to my recollection, the underlying criticisms which drove that were based more often in reality and fact.

The only respect Tony Abbott has for facts are those he imagines and/or finds useful for how own political purposes.

Posted Saturday, 25 August 12 at 11:45AM

how how how how
I agree with you Bren. And I dig your trucculent style. There’s no place for nicety amongst the unreasonable.
The thing that bothers me most though is the growing concentration of private communications ownership and the development of corporate states, seemingly beyond regulatory reach. Government per se looks dwarfed in comparison.
When will we all be able to see this clearly for what it means?
Also to Tez, don’t forget that concomitant with the ‘born to rule’ arrogance of the classic right winger is the just in case, ‘right to knife’ opposition in the back.

Dallas Beaufort
Posted Saturday, 25 August 12 at 7:23PM

So Labor, the left and their greens will be rolling up their sleeves on their holidays to help out Noel Pearson establish some reasonable advances.

Posted Sunday, 26 August 12 at 10:32AM

No, Dallas. They’ll form a committee to invite submissions from all stakeholders to come up with a plan. Then decide if the recommendations should be acted on. By which time everybody has moved on.

Dallas Beaufort
Posted Sunday, 26 August 12 at 12:43PM

Yeh right HJ, left right out again while waiting for some hands to help, oh dear, now we know what the problem is, all talk and no action, only preening.

This user is a New Matilda supporter.


Posted Sunday, 26 August 12 at 8:12PM

Dallas Beaufort
Its always been like that.
The Liberal Party was sitting on its hands thru out the fifties, then had to confront the reality that England (The Empire), our cash cow was dead, despite the fact that we blew our entire Gene Pool to save it. We have had to re adjust for many years, only to smash into another Depression.

Our exports are the only thing keeping us afloat, now and then.

No Government is going to fix this.

77% of all Australians work for the Taxpayer, who ever you think he is.

A Nurse, Teacher gets 100% of their income of the Tax Base and gives 33% back, money that wasn’t his to start with. So 67% which is his/her income for services rendered, he/she gets from this mythical person called the Tax payer. A road construction worker or anyone who builds infastructure like roads, rail, the electricity grid, public transport etc also gets 67% from this mythical person after giving back 33% in income tax. The butcher who sells any or all his goods to either the Government or one of its employees makes either all or part of his income from this Mythical Person.

An Unemployed person gets less then all those working because he basically does nothing.

So where does all this money, the 67% that you don’t give back, come from. Exports, the resources of a land that did not belong to us, that we took for exactly that reason. So, we infact only give back a very small percentage of what once belonged to the indiginous people and then we say that we are keeping them rather then their land is keeping us. take away our exports of Uranium, Coal, Gas etc and we would all be bashing each others heads in because there would be no money in the Tax Purse, because we all only take out we do not put in.

Its about time the white fellow stopped bull shitting about what and who actualy supports life and the population of this nation which has transplanted itself from Europe like a cancer, a cancer sucking the life out of this continent, until, there is nothing left, like Greece an economy of smoke, mirrors and ego’s. its like breaking into someone elses house and eating everything in the fridge, until their is nothing left, the problem is we can’t leave because there is no other house to break into, to steal food from etc.

Thats why Marbo was so such a shock to the white fellows system of exploitation, a Farmer can’t make an income and pay taxes of Land he does not posses, own, does not belong to him, or has to pay Royalties on.

A lot of white fellows fantacise that they created something out of nothing. Get on a boat and sit in the middle of the Ocean and see what you can create out of nothing or live in the Simpson desert and see what you can create.

White fellow is here because we wore out our welcome over their, we had boats and the price of a ticket and we ended up here and then we took and took and we are still taking because our kids have a need too and so will their kids, but their is only so much of the planet left that we can still steal, we have stolen most of it. Country bumpkins are already moving into the Cities because their lives out their are unsastainable. Cities are the reservations of old, we want the rest of their land because we need it, without it nothing of what we think we are is possible and we know it, admitting it however is the hard bit. Admitting means admitting that our lives and those of our children a built on myths, bull shit and Plunder, even murder.

Civilised or just thieves in fancy stitches??????

So Dallas Beaufort, get a life. Democracy as we know it is working, it just doesn’t work for all of us equaly, all of the time. Its a bitch when your on the loosing team and can’t demand that the hand outs come in your direction, as opposed to others.

This user is a New Matilda supporter.


Posted Sunday, 26 August 12 at 8:15PM

In other words, their is no plan, never was.
Its just rape, pillage and plunder, then lie about it.

Look at Scotland wanting its independence, can’t have it because England needs the North Sea Oil Fields, yet for years they were telling the Scottish that England was keeping them alive.

What a Joke

Posted Monday, 27 August 12 at 12:02PM

Abbott is probably the most vacuous, dishonest intellectual lightweight to ever lead a mainstream Australian party.

Posted Monday, 27 August 12 at 9:26PM

His avoiding these questions is not costing him points. Lying is not the issue either. Both ABC and Labor are not applying the right style of jeering and judging that Abbott knows to apply. He also knows how to let people know that he really hears them and takes that plight to heart, without actually meaning it.

Giving asylum seekers the treatment they deserve is costing parties way too many points and would upset Australian society too much. We won’t be able to do anything about climate change because we wasted all our time with the audience on ‘boat people’. Fact is that the asylum seekers do choose and pick. Sorry but that’s a fact.

About Darin Sullivan (1980 Articles)
Former President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (2009-2018) and a professional firefighter with more than 30 years experience. I live and work on the NSW South Coast, Australia. I am a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around me. I am a former Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and work with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist I have long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. I am a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and have 30 years experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. I am passionate about highlighting the impact climate change is having on fire preparedness and fire behaviour in Australia, and the risks associated with inaction on climate change. I am also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.
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