Politics Opinion

Stage 3 idiocy as leader of the leftovers lies again

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

Insiders has given Opposition Leader Peter Dutton a platform to spout lies regarding the Stage 3 tax cuts, demonstrating his political incompetence. Darren Crawford reports.

ON SUNDAY'S episode of ABC’s L-NPsiders, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton again tried to wedge Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the Stage 3 tax cuts set to kick off in 2024.

Speaking to host and News Corp plant, David Speers, Dutton (AKA leader of the leftovers, AKA Spud, AKA Mr 17%) blatantly lied to the camera claiming that the Albanese Government had “inherited a very strong position after nine years of Coalition management”.

In terms of telling a blatant lie in public, this statement is up there with the best of them. But for an L-NP leader, historically, this Stage 3 idiocy is business as usual.

The Lying Naturally Party

In recent history, at least in my lifetime, every Labor prime minister has been a nation-builder in some way. Whitlam, Hawke and Keating, Rudd and Gillard, all contributed something to public life for the betterment of all Australians — that is they led the country (and their governments), predominantly for the people. Medicare anyone? How’s your super going? Apology to the Stolen Generation? No worries, we’re here for you (mostly). Hold my beer.

Dutton, however, is continuing the Howard tradition of leading for the sake of holding power, or in his case, leading the race to the bottom (to return to power) and there is no lie he won’t naturally tell to get there.

Much like Howard and his pre-election core and non-core promises (“There's no way that a GST will ever be part of our policy” — 1995), Tony Abbott’s thick-headed slogans (“no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS” — 2013) and Scott Morrison’s ongoing litany of lies (car park rorts, sports rorts, reef rorts, ministerial rorts and so on — 2019-2022), Spud is desperately looking to throw some kids overboard or stop some boats to lie his way back into government.

Bugger good policy and bugger doing the right thing by the Australian people (let alone those poor buggers in the boats), anyone got any weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)?

Just whose mess is it?

Dutton, supported by News Corp and unfortunately recently by the ABC and Speers on L-NPsiders, seems completely oblivious to the fact that it was his government that got us into this trillion-dollar mess over the past nine years and now that the grown-ups are back in charge and trying to clean up his mess, he doesn’t like it.

According to sound economic analysis, altering or completely dropping the Stage 3 tax cuts could save over $240 billion moving forward. The ALP, in opposition, agreed to the Stage 3 tax cuts proposed by the Morrison Government in 2019 to help Australian workers on lower wages receive tax breaks in Stages 1 and 2.

Albanese then committed to implementing the Stage 3 cuts as a pre-election promise, however, since being elected earlier this year, the global economic outlook has worsened significantly with inflation and interest rates rising worldwide. The prospect of a worldwide recession is looming and a more nuanced – and dare I say it, “mature” – approach to Australia’s domestic economic policy is required.

Good leadership requires humans to not only be able to communicate their intentions clearly and honestly, but it also requires a certain amount of adaptation when circumstances change. And as leader of the Opposition, clearly, Peter Dutton is unable to do either.

Core lies come undone

After winning the 1996 Election, Howard and his Treasurer, Peter Costello, set about introducing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) into Australian society. On reflection, Howard later explained his “non-core promise” as the Government “chang[ing] its policy” by laying “out a detailed policy position which was endorsed by the Australian Electorate in October 1998”.

And there is the rub. Once Howard had pulled off this first whopper, he then kept going, lying publicly about cutting university funding and HECS, throwing kids overboard, changes to Medicare and going to war in the middle east on the premise that someone, somewhere, had weapons of mass destruction and had to be stopped.

Ultimately, Howard came undone in 2007 after lying to his Treasurer by promising him the top job, only to renege and spectacularly lose his own seat, the Government and the prime ministership in one hit.

The Australian people are not stupid (mostly). They know when they are being taken for mugs (just ask Morrison) and Howard paid the price for lying to the Australian public, just to hold onto power (not that he’d ever admit it). However, he was cunning enough to cover his lies under the disguise of “good policy” which is a concept Dutton seems incapable of grasping.

Sussan is the numbers lady

It is clear that if Dutton cannot adapt to the changing economic climate, as Albanese and, to some extent, Treasurer Jim Chalmers have been elected to do, and reflect this in his policy responses, then his obtrusiveness will be his downfall and the L-NP will be flat out climbing out of the hole they are in any time soon.

If the best Spud and News Corp can come up with is accusing Albanese of “breaking an election promise” by delivering sound economic policy in response to a trillion dollars of debt and deficit (delivered by Dutton and crew), then he might as well quit as Leader of the L-NP and install Deputy Leader Sussan Ley in the role. After all, she is much better with numbers — just look at her first name.

Good leaders don’t sacrifice good policy for personal gain, let alone lie about it

Mr 17% and his L-NP leftovers will sacrifice good policy for personal political benefit with the help of News Corp and no care for the Australian public in general, let alone those that don’t vote for them. They are in politics for themselves and no one else.

If Albanese and Chalmers decide to break an election promise, based on sound economic policy that will benefit more Australians than not and can explain the need to do so with honesty and clarity based on facts, then more power to them. And people will be on board because this is good leadership.

However, if Dutton and the L-NP keep lying to the Australian people based on this Stage 3 idiocy and their supposed “superior economic record” and don’t stop, step back and start taking notes as to what good leadership looks like (and what the Australian public needs), then they are done as a political force in this county for the foreseeable future, just as Howard was/is now.

Albanese and Chalmers have inherited a trillion-dollar economic shitshow from Dutton and the L-NP and no amount of Spud’s lies can cover that up.

Over to you, Speersy.

Darren Crawford is a surfer, environmentalist, sports coach/administrator and academic. He is also vice president of Save Our Spit AllianceYou can follow Darren on Twitter @Darrencanplay.

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