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Promising a Great Deal

Rooty Hill has never felt so popular.

I’m not going to do the thing of running a search on Google and then breathlessly reporting the number of hits (mostly because it is pretty stupid) but I think it is safe that a LARGE number of stories have been written about the Prime Minister’s decision to spend a week “living” in Rooty Hill tonight.

I’ve put “living” in inverted commas because she is going to be staying in a pretty swish hotel. She is entitled to do so, but the mere fact of sleeping out west rather than at Kirribili hardly, in my view, is going allow her to really connect with Western Sydney residents.

Moving on.

What really caught my eye today was the Liberal party’s response. Obviously Gillard will be hogging the limelight this week (for better or worse – no doubt the stories written about her visit will tell us more about the journalist’s particular perspective/bias than what actually happened).

The Liberals today released this pamphlet:

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And the back?

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It’s a neat attempt to wrestle the agenda back. It provides an easy segue for a journalist writing a story about the visit to talk about “promises”, which is of course exactly where the Coalition wants the conversation to be.

What I want to do is take each of those statements, provide the original “promise”, compare reality and then see whether the attack stacks up.

Before I do that, there is a semantic argument that has dragged on since the last election about the extent to which a change in policy is a “lie”. Essentially, it says that Gillard didn’t lie about the carbon tax; she changed her policy because of a change in circumstances. That’s true, but it’s a pretty fine line, and probably too fine a line for your average voter to care either way. She said one thing, and then as PM she did another. Feel free to flame me in the comments.

Also, while we’re on pre-emptive responses to comments, I know it was the Liberals who first gave us “non-core promises”. I also know what Abbott said about not believing what he says unless it is written down. But this is a post about Julia Gillard. I’m sure there will be posts about Abbott’s lies here sometime soon.

For the record, the Coalition’s pamphlet can be downloaded here, and the transcript of Gillard’s comments at Rooty Hill in 2010 is here.

So, number 1:

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There is only really an oblique reference to the much-maligned Citizens Assembly in the debate:

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But there can be no doubt that, at the time the assembly was Labor policy, and of course it never happened, and we now have a carbon tax in place. So we’ll score that one for the Coalition.

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This one is very clear:

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Yes, the government has almost certainly done the responsible thing in not keeping that promise. And yes, the government cannot be blamed for the GFC. Which only makes the above promise an even more stupid one to have made in the first place. Another for the Coalition.

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There isn’t really a direct quote I can link to the above promise. Happy to be corrected, but I cannot see explicit reference to “less debt”. That said, promise 3 would be the inevitable result of promise 2. But given I can’t find a reference to it in her comments, not going to score this one.

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She certainly did promise jobs:

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But it’s horribly unfair to call this a lie. The only fair comparator would be the unemployment rate if Abbott had been Prime Minister, and it is almost impossible to say what that number would have been. Labor is on the board.

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As it happens, same quote:Image

This is a more subtle one. Gillard certainly promised a company tax cut. The problem is that they could not pass the cut because the Coalition and the Greens refused to play ball. So it’s not particularly fair to blame Labor.

This is to be contrasted with those promises that were given away to win the support of the Greens, which were bargained away. This was literally something that Gillard tried to pass and could not. So we’ll score this one a tie.

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As below:

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This allegation has the same problem as number 5 – Labor cannot be blamed for the tax cut not coming in. Moreover, it is a pretty blatant bit of double counting, so I’m scoring it for Labor.

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This was laid out very clearly:

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If you’ll forgive a small plug, I covered this issue in some detail on my blog.

The NSW Labor government is no more, and the NSW Coalition is not building the Parramatta-Epping link as it cannot afford to build that and the North-West Rail Link. The Federal Government has refused to shift that money across to the North-West Rail Link – but that is not a broken promise. Not by a long-shot. Another one for Labor.

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This is what Gillard said:

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This is a somewhat puzzling allegation. No one ever promised that the NBN would be built before 2013. Exactly how people not knowing precisely what it is going to cost (to the extent that is even true) is relevant to the promise is beyond me. Another point for Labor.

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But, in fact, this is what was said:

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This is another complicated one. First of all, no where in the speech does that figure of 2650 appear. That was a figure promised by Kevin Rudd in the 2007 election campaign.

Moreover, it was a 10-year plan – and we’re still a long way from the expiration of the 10-year period.

That said, I’m not going to score this one for Labor because clearly the plans are well behind the pace the promise requires. Even though Gillard never promised a number, the failure to make any real progress means that she can hardly claim that the attack has no merit.

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Yep:

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In the Rooty Hill Forum Gillard did not provide a time-frame for these payments. But, on the ALP website, we are told that the payments were only budgeted to commence in 2012-2013 (again, happy to be corrected). Given that Gillard did not provide a timeline at the Forum, and that the timeline provided elsewhere does not appear to have been breached, I’m calling this one for Labor.

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Yes again:

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Saying “walked away from” overstates the issue here. This story from The Australian (not paywalled) explains that the Federal Government has apparently been late to deliver the funds to the states. This story from The Age explains some other problems with the program.

But to call it a “lie” is a gross exaggeration. Another one for Labor.

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No way. She promised a Mining Tax, we have a Mining Tax. We’ve already covered the Company Tax cut. No contest. Labor.

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This is what she said:

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This is another timing issue that is massively complicated by the Gonski Review. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I’ll accept that no bonuses have been paid. That said,  the process of rolling out what would obviously be a very complicated system has begun. We’ll call this one a tie.

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No timeline was provided for this promise at Rooty Hill. However, it was explained elsewhere that the deduction would be $500 in 2012-2013 and $1000 in 2013-2014. In May 2012 the promise was dropped. Whilst the pamphlet somewhat misstates the size of promise, I think we can safely score this one for the Coalition.

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Well, yeah:

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The problem for the Coalition here is that both sides make this promise at every election in the knowledge that it is a vague, unmeasurable promise. “Cost of living” is such broad concept that no one could possibly say definitively that it is higher or lower.

The pamphlet gives two examples of how it may be higher. By contrast, the RBA’s cash rate is 1.5% lower. So the allegation is pretty ridiculous. I’m going to score this for Labor, but only just.

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This is one where it is pretty hard to find a reference in the transcript. This is the best I could find:

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It’s pretty clear that Gillard was talking about increasing the superannuation rate to 12%, which will happen gradually from 2013 to 2020. Whilst the new taxes run somewhat contrary to her her statement at Rooty Hill, there is no way it is a broken promise, so I’m scoring it for Labor.

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True:

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This one also goes both ways. Labor did (elsewhere) promise to build 28 clinics. Construction on many of those has not started, although it is also true that there has been an appropriately thorough process undertaken to identify sites etc.

However, construction has begun on many sites (I’ve been unable to ascertain how many). So to say that only one has been delivered is deceptive. We’ll call this one a tie.

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Well, yes…

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First of all, that’s clearly not a promise. In any event, to lay the blame entirely at the Federal government’s feet is more than a little unfair. Another one for Labor.

So, the final tally? Three points for the Coalition, ten for Labor.

Feel free to let me know if you agree with my assessments in the comments.

Andrew may be a criminal defense lawyer from Sydney, but he’s actually a pretty cool guy who you’d love to hang out with. He writes regularly on his blog A State of Mind and for the Kings’ Tribune, and he tweets as @mrtiedt.

About MrTiedt

Law-Talkin'-Guy by day, blogger and writer by night. Also available in smaller chunks on twitter at @mrtiedt

8 comments on “Promising a Great Deal

  1. rgm
    March 3, 2013

    Julia Gillard, August 10, 2010

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/julia-gillards-carbon-price-promise/story-fn59niix-1225907522983

    “JULIA Gillard says she is prepared to legislate a carbon price in the next term.

    It will be part of a bold series of reforms that include school funding, education and health.

    In an election-eve interview with The Australian, the Prime Minister revealed she would view victory tomorrow as a mandate for a carbon price, provided the community was ready for this step.

    “I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism,” she said of the next parliament. “I rule out a carbon tax.”

    This is the strongest message Ms Gillard has sent about action on carbon pricing.”

    Like this

  2. rgm
    March 3, 2013

    Regarding the above, does that still mean she broke a promise or didn’t? Confused

    Like this

    • Chris
      March 4, 2013

      The full statement shows she didn’t lie because that’s why the MSM and co only report the I rule out a carbon tax because we have a price on carbon not a tax.

      Like this

  3. Chris
    March 4, 2013

    We have a price on carbon as part of a market based mechanism too reduce carbon emissions not a tax

    Like this

  4. Noely (@YaThinkN)
    March 4, 2013

    Unfortunately the people who received those pamphlets are not going to be reading this article. In fact they will most likely believe exactly what is on them thanks in most part to the media. I really despise the whole MSM tag and think it is very unfair in some cases, though having said that, if you look at the odious Miranda Devine Blog yesterday with her little field trip out to Rooty Hill and the selective question and answer session, you will see that the people are just rabbitting back exactly what has been repeated verbatim in the media. Ms Devine must feel she has done a good job to have it confirmed back to her :(

    Nearly all the answers given were the standard, ‘bad government’, ‘stabbed Kevin in the back’, ‘lied’, ‘lied’, ‘lied’… Unfortunately whilst so much air time is given to the repeat of what Mr Abbott keeps saying, brilliant articles like that which actually break down a ‘story’ into facts & figures, will mean not a lot out in the real world. Rather depressing actually :(

    Having said that, I sincerely hope that the ones on twitter who do try to inform themselves on sites such as this, do spread that ‘real’ information further into their communities so more of the public can actually make an informed decision. Thank you very much for the time you have contributed to the above, it is greatly appreciated :)

    Like this

  5. Bill
    March 4, 2013

    Great list!

    While it may be a semantic argument about the carbon tax, the truth (which Labor doesn’t like any more than the Liberals) is that Gillard said there would be no carbon tax *under a government I lead* and not having won government in their own right, she doesn’t lead the government, she leads the senior partner in a coalition government. While neither major party likes this arrangement, this is the parliament that the Australian people collectively chose so the real counter-argument to the allegation of lying about a carbon tax is, Why do the Liberals hate democracy?

    It’s similar to 5, 6, and 7 – without a clear majority, Labor were boxed in by what the people collectively chose.

    The ‘Citizens’ Assembly’ or whatever it was called was a bullshit idea dreamt up on the run and they should have known better. Same goes for the budget surplus. It serves them right for accepting the Liberals’ narrative and not defending the need for debt in certain circumstances as Colin Barnett did the other week.

    Finally, it shows a lot of gall for the Liberal party, who love to say that John Howard was right, to talk about broken promises. If they were honest, their flyer would list which of those 18 were “core promises.”

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  6. Sam Lin
    March 4, 2013

    On point 4, ABS shows employment at 11,100,700 in June 2010 and 11,549,100 now, an increase of 448,400 jobs. The number of people unemployed also went up by 59,200 in the same period. But the promise was to create jobs rather than cut the number of unemployed, so it has certainly been kept.

    Like this

  7. BBA
    March 4, 2013

    Thanks for the breakdown and attempt at clearing fact, spin and political reality.

    Like this

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This entry was posted on March 3, 2013 by in Policies and tagged .

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