Lies, Damned Lies and Politics.

Posted: July 13, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Thousands of words have been written about Julia’s “lie” on the Carbon Tax. And I’m not about to re-hash the condemnations and the explanations here. I’m more intrigued about why it was such a big issue and why it continued to be long the election. The thing is that we expect politicians to lie. I don’t mean it that cynical way, “He’s a politician so you can’t trust him!”

When Bob Hawke refused to honour his agreement with Paul Keating, he admitted that he lied to stop Keating from resigning as Treasurer. When an aspiring candidate for the Labor Party admitted last week that she had no connection with the electorate where she wished to be nominated, people mocked her. When politicians are asked about their attitudes on their party’s policy, they rarely say that they think it’s wrong, even when they’re on the record as arguing strongly against it. That’s politics, we say.

So, I’m not analysing Tony Abbott here because he lied. I’m analysing this because he’s made such a song and dance about Gillard’s so-called lie before the last election. 

A few weeks ago, I reviewed a book called: Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception. It examined the techniques interrogators were trained to  look for in order to detect lying. 

Some of the verbal techniques which suggest lying are:

1. A failure to answer the question. 

2. Denial problems. (Instead saying, “No, I didn’t” the person may say, “I find that allegation offensive” or “That’s not the sort of behaviour that my record would suggest”)

3. Reluctance to answer the question. (“You’ll have to ask the Leader about that one.”)

4. Repeating the question. (Repeating the question? Why would anyone do that?)

5. Nonanswer statements. (“That’s really the question” or “I’m glad you asked that”)

6. Inconsistent statements 

7. Going into attack mode. (“There’s no need to be offensive” or “That’s just typical of the ABC”)

8. Overly specific answers. (“I’m sure that the figure isn’t $2billion” Actually it’s $2.1 billion)

So i present the following excerpt from that interview which Andrew Bolt called “gotcha”journalism with my annotations in bold.

TONY ABBOTT: Thanks so much. Thank you. Ok, do we have any questions?
QUESTION: Mr Abbott, how is Peter Slipper incorrectly claiming $900 and offering to pay it back different from you incorrectly claiming $9000 worth of
travel expenses and then paying it back? How are the situations different?
TONY ABBOTT: Well look, this matter was fully dealt with last year. There’s nothing further to add. 1. A failure to answer the question. & 3. Reluctance to answer the question
QUESTION: Well he’s facing charges and you just got to pay $9000 back. How are those two situations different?
TONY ABBOTT: Well as I said, this matter was fully dealt with by the Labor minister last year who said that the matter was closed. 5. Nonanswer statements.
QUESTION: And why were the travel expenses incorrectly claimed? How did that happen? Can you explain what happened in your office that you
incorrectly claimed $9000 worth of travel expenses?
TONY ABBOTT: The matter was fully dealt with last year. (1, 3 and 5 again)
QUESTION: But you’re not explaining how it occurred, why it occurred, why it happened in the first place?
TONY ABBOTT: As I said, it was an oversight in my office. It was fully dealt with last year. (1, 3 and 5 again)

QUESTION: Why did you use Comcars on your book tour? Surely you would have known when you were using the Comcars that you were on private business?

TONY ABBOTT: Fully dealt with last year. The Labor Minister at the time was perfectly satisfied that there had been nothing that was deliberately done wrong and the matter was closed. 2. Denial problems. 
QUESTION: Do you take responsibility for the mistake?
TONY ABBOTT: I think I’ve fully dealt with it. Time to move on. 1, 2, 3, 5

QUESTION: It’s been reported that you have been forced to repay the amount? Are the reports inaccurate?

TONY ABBOTT: This was dealt with two years ago. This is old news. Old news. Now, why is Kevin Rudd now trying to dish this sort of dirt? Kevin Rudd
came into the prime ministership a few days ago and he said let’s have a kinder, gentler polity. Now, that was a bit rich from someone who’d spent three
years and three days plotting against a prime minister, but he called for a kinder, gentler polity and he called for positive politics. Now, we’ve got the
Labor Party spinning this kind of stuff. Now, let’s move on.
QUESTION: It’s not the Labor Party. It’s an independent website who did an FOI?
TONY ABBOTT: Let’s move on. Let’s move on.
QUESTION: On the carbon tax, Malcolm Turnbull said you could find better advocates than him last night on Q&A about moving away from an emission
trading scheme are you lacking team support within your own team?
TONY ABBOTT: Look, I thought Malcolm did a very, very good job on Q&A last night and Malcolm was pointing out that President Obama made a
magnificent speech on climate change and what President Obama is supporting are direct action measures like the measures that the Coalition’s been
supporting now for well over three years.
QUESTION: Mr Abbott, do you agree with Malcolm Turnbull that your direct action plan is short term?
TONY ABBOTT: Well obviously, if the world changes, we’ll change with it but as I’ve always said, the world is moving away from carbon taxes andemissions trading schemes, not towards it. The world is moving towards the kind of direct action measures that the Coalition has long been proposing and what we’re proposing is smarter technology, more trees and better soils and the great thing about what we’ve got in mind is that what we’ve got in
mind makes environmental sense to everyone. It makes environmental sense to everyone to have more trees, to have better soils and to use smarter technology. 8. Overly specific answers.

QUESTION: Mr Abbott, why didn’t you say yesterday you had incorrectly claimed those travel expenses?
TONY ABBOTT: Look, I think we’ve fully dealt with this. Gary Gray dealt with this… Here we go again!

QUESTION: You just repeated your lines over and over again to me you haven’t answered any questions.
TONY ABBOTT: Calm down. Gary Gray looked at this matter two years ago. He said there’s nothing to see here. Ok. Next question. 7. Going into attack mode.
QUESTION: After you repaid. Do you take responsibility for the incorrect claim of $9,000?
TONY ABBOTT: I didn’t claim travel allowance. I never claimed travel allowance. My office inadvertently booked some travel as official, which should not have been booked that way. It’s been fully dealt with. Not me, blame my office.
QUESTION: No, there were expenses. Gary Gray wrote back after you repaid the initial $6,000 and said there were travel expenses that had been claimed, such as Comcars.
TONY ABBOTT: Ok. Are there any other questions? 2. Denial problems.

Ok, we could do the same to most political interviews. But generally it’s been Abbott squawking about “lies”. He conveniently ignores the most significant question about how do he not know that he shouldn’t have been using a Comcar for a private trip, by asking for other questions.

Bolt sees this as ‘gotcha’ journalism, but sees pursuing Gillard over events twenty years old after she held a press conference where she asked and answered all questions on the matter as entirely reasonable. Ignoring the obvious – it’s ok to ‘gotcha’ the side he disagrees with, but not his mates – it’s hard to argue that what Gillard did twenty years ago goes to character, but an Opposition Leader ripping off the public purse is an entirely legitimate thing to do. But one, I suppose it could be argued, was a legitimate mistake from a man who just wasn’t thinking. And there’s plenty of evidence of Abbott acting without thinking. 

From the man himself: ”I know politicians are going to be judged on everything they say but 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.”

  1. PeterF says:

    I am looking forward to the reply to Margo Kingston’s follow-up FOI question about WHO referred Slipper’s expenses claim to the Police. Expect a result within a fortnight.

    • Pip says:

      IF the information is released my money is on Senator George Brandis who has made writing letters to various Police Depts., his secondary career.

  2. Please enlighten me as to why Tony Abbott’s expenses in office are huge in comparison to the PM’s? I got the info. off the PhoneyTony blob where there are links to the Finance Departments pdfs on the matter. We all know TA has been in campaign mode for years. Has he been abusing his privileges and using taxpayers monies for secret election campaign all this time? If he has, he has certainly been on a roll with this. May be that is why he is so confident. Huge phone bills could equal ringing around rather radically. Then all those office costs…

  3. rodfairgo says:

    Tony an ex student Catholic “Priest” was taught how to “lie” at the priesthood. Student Priests study how, source: Chrissy Foster “Hell on the way to Heaven” sorry don’t have page number! The clue is be “overly specific”. This way you don’t have to “confess” your sins and you won’t go to hell!

  4. horatio says:

    Reminiscent of last night’s In The Thick Of It, it ended with his leaders resignation. Too much honour for our liberals

  5. Terry2 says:

    I’m no lawyer but it is my understanding (please correct me if I’m wrong) that the difference between the Abbott expenses that were misused and the Slipper cab-charges that were misused is all down to the ‘intention’ of the party. Abbott says that his $9000 was an office ‘oversight’ and thus he had not intended to defraud or steal from the Commonwealth and when his ‘oversight’ was detected he was given the latitude of repaying the money under a rather selective get out of jail card known as the Minchin Protocol.
    Slipper, on the other hand, was not offered the ‘Minchin Protocol’ and as it is a bit airy-fairy in its application he couldn’t insist on it. In the meantime it seems, according to Slipper, that James Ashby (or those associated with him) had reported the cab-charge misuse to the AFP so he ends up in court at massive expense to the taxpayer to argue: intent.
    So, to answer the journalist’s question, the difference is that nobody reported Abbott to the AFP and he got the benefit of the highly selective ‘Minchin Protocol’ . Hmmm !

  6. Joy Cooper says:

    There were two sets of cabcharge incidents, Terry2. The first lot involved claims alleged abuse of cabcharge vouchers which Ashby placed, inexplicably, into his sexual harassment complaint. This allegation was withdrawn & Justice Rares wondered why they were even presented in the first place. Thought Ashby was just muddying the waters to make Peter Slipper look worse. After investigation, these claims were found, by the AFP, to have no foundation & Peter Slipper had no case to answer in this instance.

    In the second case, which is the one Peter Slipper is currently facing court over, involve the 2010 use of Cabcharge cards, (I believe) not vouchers, which were erroneously used for travel in an area outside the limits they can be used. These are the only charges the AFP could find to charge him with misuse or fraud, whatever, after having scoured through Slipper’s previous claims looking for something. (This was supposedly after they had been pressured by persons unknown to find something to charge Slipper with.) The relatively paltry amount of $900+ was all they could find. He was never given any opportunity to repay this amount at all as the DoF had nothing to do with the charges, it was solely the AFP. Strange indeed.

    As for Tony Abbott I disagree his claims were an “office oversight” as the MP concerned has to sign off on these claims. It’s just Abbott being loose with the truth yet again.

  7. bernyl says:

    Regardless of the ‘office oversight’, as the leader of the party, surely via the chain of command, he is responsible for the actions of the employees under his control! And if he can’t manage his own office, how the heck is he going to manage our government?????????????????? The man looks like a bigger fool than even I could imagine.
    It wouldn’t surprise me if TA has to step down due to ‘ill health’ to be replaced by Turnbull. Only honourable way for him to be replaced.

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