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(Image via @JohnDory49)

Tony Abbott’s Coalition government has achieved the landmark 50 specific promises dumped. This coincides with the ABC coming late to the promise checkers’ party. Alan Austin updates the list.

The Abbott Government has busted the half ton. That is, 50 broken commitments in ten months. Five per month. That makes it almost certainly the worst regime for policy delivery in modern history — anywhere.

If Abbott’s strategists had hoped Australia’s mainstream media would all pretend not to notice, they are now bitterly disappointed. Public broadcaster the ABC has just joined the campaign to document the broken promises which Independent Australia began last November.

More about the ABC shortly.

First, let’s update the tally with the latest batch:

50. Aboriginal legal services

Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion promised in May that front line services for Aboriginal people would not be reduced, despite savage cuts to overall Indigenous funding in the budget.

In July, the strategic $500,000 a year Prisoner ThroughCare program run by the NSW and ACT Aboriginal Legal Service was terminated.

49. Emissions targets

Before the election, Abbott affirmed support for the bipartisan greenhouse emissions reduction target of between 5% and 25% of 2000 levels by 2020.

In November, Abbott softened that commitment:

“Australia will meet our 5% emissions reduction target, but this government has made no commitments to go further than that.” 

Last month’s carbon tax repeal leaves Australia with no legislation to achieve even the minimum 5% emissions reduction target its international agreements require.

48. Permanent residency

‘If the Coalition is elected, no-one who arrives illegally by boat will receive permanent residency.’

This was the clear – and frequent – written and spoken commitment by Abbott’s frontbenchers.

That was broken in July with the decision to apply ministerial discretion to residency and with at least one Ethiopian refugee now settled permanently in Australia.

47. Superannuation levy increases

In his campaign launch speech, Abbott promised to

“... delay the superannuation guarantee levy increase because it's another cost that small business can't afford right now.”

As the ABC’s promise checkers show, this commitment was broken in July.

46. Overseas aid

Before the 2013 election, Joe Hockey specified a dramatic reduction of $4.5 billion in Australia’s overseas aid allocations over the forward estimates.

The May budget actually cut aid by a brutal and inexcusable $7.9 billion.

45. Fuel excise

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, 3 April 2014:

“There are no plans to increase the fuel excise.”

Five weeks later, on 8 May, the excise went up.

44. Privatisation

In October 2013, Abbott solemnly promised:

“We’re going to do no more and no less than we promised people at the election. The only privatisation that we’ve got slated is Medibank Private.”

Since then the government has commenced scoping studies to sell off the Royal Australian Mint and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's business registry arm.

43. Broadband speed

The Coalition promised before the election:

‘Download speeds of between 25 and 100 megabits per second by the end of 2016.'  

That was abandoned in December.

42. Landcare funding

Environment spokesman Greg Hunt promised last August that in government the Coalition would

“... give Landcare significantly greater access to the Caring for Country pool of funds, as well as the current Landcare funding.”

In May, the funding was slashed by $483.8 million.

41. No tax increases

Abbott and Joe Hockey were adamant before the election that

“... the only party that will raise taxes after the election is the Labor Party.”

Taxes to have increased since then, besides the fuel tax, include the budget repair levy and the GP visit co-payment. With no offsetting rate cuts, bracket creep will increase taxes further.

They are the latest ten, bringing our total to 50. The first 13 were documented here in November, the next 12 here in February and the following 15 here in May.

They related to:

  1. There have been no broken promises
  2. Respecting a government’s mandate
  3. Freedom of information
  4. Toowoomba Range bypass plan
  5. Reporting the budget position
  6. Justifying the debt ceiling
  7. Reducing the nation’s debt
  8. Returning the budget to surplus
  9. The UN Security Council seat
  10. Foreign minister’s first trip abroad
  11. Relations with the region
  12. National broadband network technology
  13. Stopping the boats
  14. Abbott spending his first week with the Yolngu
  15. Open and accountable government
  16. Cuts to pensions
  17. School attendances
  18. No government job for Sophie Mirabella
  19. No deals with the Greens
  20. No cuts to ABC and SBS funding
  21. No subsidies to industries
  22. Monitoring whaling
  23. Increased funds for aid agencies
  24. Entering Indonesia waters
  25. We will not tow back the boats
  26. No knighthoods for Australia
  27. No public servants to be forced out of work
  28. Incarcerating children offshore
  29. No cuts to education
  30. Raising university fees
  31. No cuts to health
  32. No Medicare locals to be closed
  33. Funding on direct action
  34. Consultancy spending to be cut
  35. Aboriginal land rights
  36. No new taxes
  37. Using the state of the economy as an excuse for breaking promises
  38. This will be a government of no surprises
  39. The burden will be shared evenly
  40. Families will be off limits in politics

While the ABC’s late endeavours in tracking promises are most welcome, early signs that they will be thorough rather than superficial are not... er... promising.

The ABC reported on Thursday that

‘ABC Fact Check has launched a Promise Tracker, which follows more than 60 promises made by the Coalition in the lead up to the 2013 federal election.’

Hmmm. Only just over 60? So how were they chosen from the hundreds made?

The ABC continues:

‘Ten months into the Government's term, it reveals 12 promises are delivered, six are broken, four are stalled and the majority remain in progress.’

Six broken? Really? Why have only six broken promises been explored when fifty have been fully documented by several online publications? These include Independent Australia [refer above], The Monthly, Crikey, The AIM Network and The Guardian.

Is this because the ABC is hog-tied by its charter which demands even-handedness, and therefore must report equal numbers of infractions for each side in politics, regardless of the ratio of actual offences?

Will the ABC continue to show more promises kept than broken and thus bolster claims by the Institute of Public Affairs in The Drum that broken promises don’t really matter much?

We shall onpass this series of articles – with embedded links to verification of our claims – and see what eventuates.

Regarding the prime offender, Tony Abbott, will he reach a century before the next election?

Or will he be replaced as PM before then so the counter can be reset?

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