Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Redefining the lie: politics and porkies

Lie (v.) (1) To make a politically unpopular statement; (2) [retrospectively applied] To make a statement which appears inconsistent with a more recent statement, indicating that its maker has changed…

The last few years in Australian politics have seen the rise of a new definition of ‘lying’. AAP/Lukas Coch

Lie (v.)

(1) To make a politically unpopular statement;

(2) [retrospectively applied] To make a statement which appears inconsistent with a more recent statement, indicating that its maker has changed his or her position subsequent to the making of the statement in question;

(3) [obsolete] To intentionally convey a false impression;

(4) [obsolete] To deliberately intend to deceive by making a false or untrue statement.

Following recent practice in Australian politics, all future political dictionaries should incorporate the above entry for the verb “to lie”.

The one big “lie” that dogged former prime minister Julia Gillard’s entire term in office was her infamous statement: “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”, uttered on August 16, 2010, five days before the last federal election.

The following February, Gillard announced her intention to introduce a carbon price from July 1, 2012. News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt posted that very afternoon on his Herald Sun blog under the headline “Gillard confirms: She lied about no carbon tax".

Opposition leader Tony Abbott was initially not prepared to go that far. But by the time he addressed the “No Carbon Tax” rally in August 2011, he was also confidently calling Gillard’s “promise” that there would be no carbon tax a “lie”.

The charge that Gillard lied in August 2010 is presumably based on definition number two, as above. There is no evidence that Gillard lied according to either of the now-obsolete definitions (three and four). On August 20, the day before the election, she said:

I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism. I rule out a carbon tax.

When she announced the market-based carbon pricing scheme on February 24, 2011, the government’s press release said:

The two-year plan for a carbon price mechanism will start with a fixed price period for three to five years before transitioning to an emissions trading scheme.

Only later did Gillard and the government begin referring to the pricing scheme as a “tax”.

It should be said that Gillard was probably quite consistent about wanting to implement some kind of carbon price, though it seems that she did not successfully enough ensure that her distinction between a “tax” and a market-based “price” on carbon was communicated to journalists.

The issue with Gillard’s statements was always one about political acumen rather than honesty. In hindsight, if she was always intending to price carbon – and it seems clear that she was – there was no need to utter those fateful six words in the first place. Once the government itself began to use the term “tax”, its fate was sealed.

On definitions three and four – the now-obsolete definitions – the lies which were told about the carbon pricing scheme and what exactly Gillard had said about it were told almost exclusively by her political opponents. In News Limited tabloids and on commercial radio and television, Bolt, Alan Jones and Piers Akerman repeated Gillard’s “there will be no carbon tax” while saying nothing about her pre-election promise to introduce a pricing mechanism.

Abbott, meanwhile, deliberately set about distorting the government’s policy by emphasising its pricing side while remaining silent on its associated compensation package. But because the definition of a lie is now politically contingent, most Australians now accept that on the issue of the carbon price, Gillard lied and Abbott told the truth.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott often accused Julia Gillard of ‘lying’ over the reversal of her position on a carbon tax. AAP/Dan Peled

The politically-contingent nature of the definition of lying in Australian politics can also be seen by examining other policy areas, including asylum seekers and economics.

It is now common for senior politicians and commentators to describe people who seek asylum by boat as “illegal immigrants”. On the obsolete definitions, that description would be a rather bald-faced lie. Under both Australian and international law, it is far from illegal to seek asylum from a well-founded fear of persecution. It is the right of every human being.

Most of the politicians and commentators who describe asylum seekers as “illegal” would know that. They would also know that since 1997-98, the vast majority of the people who have arrived by boat and sought asylum have come from Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. Of their claims, more than 90% are regularly accepted.

Many of those who refer to “illegal immigrants” also refer to the concept of a “queue”, within which deserving refugees wait patiently for their protection claims to be assessed, and which is illegitimately “jumped” by undeserving refugees who cannot wait their turn. This is despite knowing that there is no “queue” when it comes to asylum claims. Protection claims are assessed on a triage, not first-come-first-served, basis. And even then, the average time spent in refugee camps is 17 years.

On the obsolete definitions of “lie”, then, anybody who talks about “illegal immigrants”, “jumping the queue” and “no-disadvantage tests” when referring to asylum seekers is lying. On the new, politically contingent, definitions, of course, they are not.

Further evidence that the new definition of “lie” now apply can be seen when observing the current Australian debate about the national economy. The rest of the world views the Australian government in high esteem for avoiding the continuing economic shocks which brought every other western economy to its knees in 2008.

But according to Tony Abbott, the Australian economy is a basket-case because of the high levels of public debt and the new “taxes” on mining super-profits and carbon dioxide emissions. On the obsolete definitions above, such claims would once upon a time have been considered lies. On almost every main economic indicator, Australia has bucked the international trend and is in a better position than it was when Labor won office from the Coalition in 2007.

Of course, lying, on the old definitions, is hardly new to politics, as attested by political theorist Hannah Arendt’s 1971 analysis of the Pentagon Papers in Lying in Politics. But much of the exasperation expressed toward those who talk about “illegal immigrants” and high levels of public debt appears to come from those who have not accepted the new usage of the verb “to lie”.

To save continued confusion in the contemporary analysis of Australian politics, then, the new definitions of “to lie” that I have proposed should be adopted forthwith.

Join the conversation

64 Comments sorted by

  1. Phil Dolan

    Viticulturist

    Very good points Russell.

    A thought. How would you describe "truth" in politics? I suspect it's a bit more elastic than the opposite of lie.

    report
    1. Russell Marks

      Honorary Research Associate, School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      Thanks Phil-- as far as I can tell, a political "truth" is defined by its political expediency, or its capacity to be believed by enough people in the right quarters. Or is that too cynical? [wink]

      report
    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Phillip

      John, if you'd bothered to actually READ this article, and had owned a dictionary or been educated in the twentieth century, you would recognise that Russell's initial notes about changing definitions of the verb 'to lie' are absolutely historically accurate. The 'restructuring to suit a particular political discourse' was done by the shock jocks and some memberrs of the Coalition in that instance and looking at how that kind of shif thapen sis exactly what Russell did.

      Of course, you're perfectly entitled to insert your own views, but don't try to frame them within the terms of an argument you simply misconstrued.

      report
    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Phillip

      That's right, John, the editors of the Macqaurie Dictionary buckled to the remorseless bullying of the fiendish Prime Minister and her linguistic goons...meanwhile, back in the real world...

      The thing with 'propaganda', as opposed to illustration, is that it has to be at least significantly untrue. Would you like to nominate the bit of the article that fits this bill?

      [A clue: 'untrue' isn't quite the same as 'I don't agree']

      report
    3. Russell Marks

      Honorary Research Associate, School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University

      In reply to John Phillip

      I would hope that's not how it reads: Labor tells lies (in the obsolete sense of the word!) on asylum seekers.

      report
    4. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix the part where it focuses solely on the conservative side of politics would work. This is ably supported by the way in which the article acts as an apologist for Gillard.
      Now Felix, we dont honestly believe our former PM would have engaged in bullying do we? You must admit it an interesting and rather 'timely' redefinition of the term 'misogony' the weekned after Ms Gillard's speech in defence of Peter Slipper.

      report
    5. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Russell Marks

      Russell, by any definition of the term 'lie' your argument re the definition of asylum seekers as illegal immigrants is not necessarily such. It could be a lie, it could be a fact, it could be inaccurate. It all depends on the status of the individulas being labelled. As such, one could argue that referring to illegal immigrants as asylum seekers is a lie for exactly the same reasons.

      report
    6. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Russell Marks

      APologies too, Russell. I was unclear when adressing Felix, "This piece" was in reference to his anti-coalition comments and his failure to acknowledge the failings of all sides of politics.
      As an aside, I notice that you make no mention of the Greens or independents. Is this simply because they play only minor roles or is it because they fail to meet your definition of lying?

      report
    7. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Phillip

      John, one of the things that modern lexicographers base their work on is monitoring changing usage patterns. Has it ever occured to you that, rather than the paranoid explanation, the simpler one would be that common usage has pretty much evolved into the form the dictionary recognised and the way in which Gillard used it?

      report
    8. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Phillip

      John, I also failed to acknowledge the failings of fish! My point was precisely that it was the group I mentioned, including the Coalition, who had ALREADY and actively worked to change the usage, so that a promise broken in unexpected and changed circumstances (and in pursuit of a clearly articulated intention to use market forces to reduce carbon emissions) got parsed as a lie. This is not an 'anti Coalition' comment, but a criticism of this behaviour from several players, including (although by no means initiated by) the Coalition.

      report
    9. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Phillip

      No, John, to describe a group of people as 'illegal' when (a) you don't have any actual knowledge of those individuals and (b) the evidence is that you're about 90% likely to be wrong looks pretty much like a culpable lie to me.

      report
    10. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      By the way, John, off hand I can't think of any instances of the Greens or independents lying on the public record, but you might have an example to offer?

      report
    11. Russell Marks

      Honorary Research Associate, School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University

      In reply to John Phillip

      I beg to differ, John: legally speaking, anybody who arrives in Australian territories and claims asylum is an "asylum seeker". Their claim is then processed. If it succeeds, they are a "refugee". If it fails, then there may be a case to call them an "unlawful non-citizen", though it's probably more accurate to simply call them a "failed asylum seeker". The use of the term "illegal" implies that a person has no business arriving in Australia and seeking asylum. Clearly, both international law and the Migration Act affords everyone that right.

      report
  2. James Jenkin

    EFL Teacher Trainer

    The article ostensibly explores a broad philosophical question.

    But all examples are used to defend one side of Australian politics, and to accuse the other of hypocrisy.

    Fair enough. But some nuance and even-handedness would have been more interesting.

    report
  3. Steve Hindle

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    "To save continued confusion in the contemporary analysis of Australian politics, then, the new definitions of “to lie” that I have proposed should be adopted forthwith".
    This statement could have come straight out of George Orwell's Animal Farm.

    report
  4. Mike Jubow

    forestry nurseryman

    Enough of the double-speak hair splitting. A lie is an untruth in all circumstances. We do not need justification for untruthfulness. There are no obsolete definitions. We all too often rewrite history with the motivation of showing an aspect of it in a better light or for some propaganda purposes. In other words we accept lies even into our history at times. I do not apologize for
    refusing to accept the new definitions, but then, I was raised in a staunch Calvinist household and these sorts of definitions, morals and principles were firmly rammed into our heads then.

    report
    1. Phil Dolan

      Viticulturist

      In reply to Mike Jubow

      'A lie is an untruth in all circumstances.'

      But what is a belief? If you believe something that goes against what is obviously rational, are you not lying to yourself? Or have you dropped your upbringing?

      report
    2. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mike Jubow

      Actually Mike, you're wrong and you know it. In Semantic Priomes and Universals (1996, p152) Anna Wierzbicka provides a definition of Lie derived from extensive analysis of actual usage and expressed in very simple language:
      X Lied to Y
      X said something to Y
      X knew it was not true
      X said it because X wanted Y to think it was true
      [People would say: if someone does this, it is bad]
      The element of intention to deceive is crucial to lie, even in Calvinist doctrine. it is also crucial that the alleged liar knows something to be untrue, your disagreement, opinion and projection of motives onto another does not render their rendition of events "lies", they themselves must know it as untruth and be intending to deceive.

      report
    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mike Jubow

      So, Mike, if you told someone you'd be over to visit for lunch on Saturday, but your car broke down on the way, preventing you from making it that would be a lie?

      I think all Russell was trying to point out was the difference between breaking a promise (which may not be ideal but is a necessary flexibility in the rapidly changing business of government) and knowingly lying; i.e. saying something that, at the time you said it, you knew to be untrue.

      Breaking a promise may not be admirable or ideal, but surely it's an order of magnitude less bad than knowingly lying.

      report
    4. Marion Wilson

      retired

      In reply to Mike Jubow

      A penalty for a misdemeanour is not a tax, it may also be called a fine but it is not a tax. If people are litterers and throw rubbish onto a footpath they should be fined/penalised. An industry that ejects foul material into the atmosphere is committing a misdemeanour/crime and a fine/penalty should result. That is exactly what a price on carbon is - a penalty for causing a foul material to be ejected into the atmosphere. Defining what a lie is makes it clear that those who called Julia Gillard a liar, are themselves liars. Abbott lied, as he frequently does, and the supplicant media deliberately supports his lies by not demanding that he acknowledge and withdraw his false assertions.. Because of Abbott's persistence, supported by the media, the people of Australia wrongly believe that Julia Gillard is a liar.

      report
    5. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Mike Jubow

      Yes, a lie is an intention to deceive.
      Those intending to deceive are apt to be discovered by their "lies".
      It is not hard is it?

      report
    6. Mike Jubow

      forestry nurseryman

      In reply to Marion Wilson

      Marion, I accept that, as you say, "Defining what a lie is makes it clear that those who called Julia Gillard a liar, are themselves liars. Abbott lied, as he frequently does, and the supplicant media deliberately supports his lies by not demanding that he acknowledge and withdraw his false assertions.. Because of Abbott's persistence, supported by the media, the people of Australia wrongly believe that Julia Gillard is a liar."

      A lie is a lie regardless of who or how many are deceived. It is an untruth and the rest of the above is just semantic waffle that sets off my bullshit meter.

      report
    7. Mike Jubow

      forestry nurseryman

      In reply to James Hill

      Yes James, it is really that simple. The latte set can waffle on forever believing they are a modern version of the great Ancient Greek Philosophers. The problem is, they aren't. They are just waffling and a lie is still a lie when it deceives.

      report
    8. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Mike Jubow

      Ancient Greek philosophers. ROFL. Hardly. The current generation think they are Plato because they are in the "Sexuality Studies" department. Which basically means, they gossip about porno, and Kim Kardashian's bum.

      report
  5. Steven Waters

    logged in via Facebook

    when it comes to refugees its not just that people think of them as queue jumpers its also that people feel that they are not genuin and are coming for a better life. so theres a couple of reasons why people may say they are illegal. the same with Australia debt Abbott may have exaggerated the point but it also has to do with how labor used the surplus left over from the Costello years, wiped out the future fund and got us into high levels of debt so quickly. their decision making was rushed and there wasn't much thought about the future. so despite Rudd and others will say that australia is doing better than being made out people know in their gut that labor have made some bad decisions with our money and that they always seem to do it. so in some ways you can say there is an element of truth in the statements as well.

    report
    1. Phil Dolan

      Viticulturist

      In reply to Steven Waters

      'an element of truth' has always seemed to me to be like a little bit pregnant. It can be used to sow the seeds of doubt.

      report
    2. Ella Miller

      retired

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      Why don't we look at what is the intent behind the choice of a word?
      What is the intent behind choosing "illegal cue jumpers" as opposed to refugees? What is the intent behind the omission of certain words like Global Financial Crisis. Is the intent to inform with fact or is it to mislead . Is it to alter our perception of "reality and truth" Welcome to the world of 1984 and new speak.

      report
    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Steven Waters

      Steven, finding reasons to not like this group of people or not support their arrival does not change a lie. It is everyone's legal right to arrive in a country and claim asylum. It is then that country's legal right to assess that claim and, if evidence is found, to reject it.

      Remember that old concept of innocent until proven guilty? by your crooked thinking, everyone ever arrested by the police would automatically become a criminal.

      The truth is not like porridge, in that, if you collect enough spoonfulls of something it somehow makes a bowl.

      You've every right to your views on this issue, but trying to dress it up in a facade of legitimacy only fools fools.

      report
    4. Russell Marks

      Honorary Research Associate, School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University

      In reply to Steven Waters

      Thanks for your response Steven. On your point about asylum seekers: there's a world of difference - especially on this issue - between what sections of the public "feel" and what is known to be factual. It is a relatively straightforward statement of fact that well over 90 per cent of refugee claims by boat-born asylum seekers are established to meet Australia's protection obligations. This figure is much higher than that for asylum seekers who have arrived on planes with papers. Members of…

      Read more
    5. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Russell Marks

      Russell, your outrage is way beyond the alleged lies here. On the issue of "illegals" In the pre-1994 legislation, they were referred to as 'illegal entrants.' Keating changed the phrase to "unlawful non-citizens". I think you'll find it hard to distinguish that from "illegal" so much it constitutes a lie.

      report
    6. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      No he wasn't. That's what he changed the legislation to say. Hullo?

      report
    7. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Russell Marks

      Russell, also both the "queue jumper" and "illegals" discourses were firmly implanted into Australian discourse during that 1970s, by two unlikely allies. Firstly, by Fraser himself, so he could justify not taking even one more 'boat person' (he stopped at just over 2,000). Instead he would focus on hand-picking from the SE Asian refugee camps. He said, 'by closing the back of the queue, we open the front of the queue.' Secondly, by the Labor left, and particularly Commie elements, like the Waterside Workers Union, and many others. Their shtick was all about Vietnamese bourgeois so-and-so's stealing Vietnam's riches, pretending to be poor refugees. This vile rhetoric was right across the Labor Party, whenever Whitlam as PM said he would not even take people from the refugee camps, saying "I'm not having any of those fucking Vietnamese Balts...!" Lovely.

      report
    8. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Russell Marks

      And if my experience is any indication, a lot of the noise about 'queue jumpers' and 'illegals' comes from folks who have migrated here over the past few decades.

      report
  6. Jim KABLE

    teacher

    Brilliant analysis - of how meaning changes. Perhaps if we were able to disqualify lawyers from holding public office we might find political statements blunter but more easily identifiable as within the former realms of honesty - not shades dependent upon the crossing to 't's or the dotting of 'i's!

    report
  7. John Pollard

    Casual Observer

    I am sure the biggest liar to go un punished is Abbot. He repeated ad nauseam the claim that the economy would be destroyed by the carbon tax and then got off relatively scott free afterwards. The media are totally selective on the lies they care to pursue.

    report
  8. Troy Barry

    Mechanical Engineer

    "On almost every main economic indicator, Australia...is in a better position than it was when Labor won office from the Coalition in 2007."

    I don't read every article on The Conversation, but this is certainly the most ridiculous claim I've ever seen here. It is entirely untrue with reference to every single economic indicator I can think of. That this patently absurd drivel can make it through the article selection and editorial processes makes me a little bit sad that my taxes and my uni fees are funding it.

    report
    1. George Takacs

      Physicist

      In reply to Troy Barry

      Troy,

      Perhaps you can quote some facts to back up your assertions. My understanding is that we have now had 21 (or is it 22) consecutive years of growth in real per capita GDP, and in every one of the last ten years wages growth has outstripped inflation. That to me sounds consistent with the statement to which you objected. Or do you not consider GDP or real income to be economic indicators?

      report
    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Troy Barry

      Troy, rather than invective, I don't suppose you'd like to offer some evidence?

      Remember 'evidence'? It's something a post-grad student might be expected to have at least heard of...

      report
    3. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Troy Barry

      Troy, you don't provide any evidence for your claim nor any reasoning: it is a bald assertion of opinion. I can recall only one indicator shown to now be worse than 2007, and that fact-checked (badly written and expressed, but accurate) here only yesterday and that is multi-factor productivity growth. If you know of other indicators that support your claim, please cite them. Until you provide either evidence or reasoning, "almost every indicator" is not yet shown to be "ridiculous". I do hope you argue better in your written material in your studies.

      report
    4. Troy Barry

      Mechanical Engineer

      In reply to Dennis Alexander

      The most important indicator in my opinion is unemployment (ABS figures shown).
      - June 2007: 4.3%
      - June 2013: 5.7%
      1.4% higher unemployment is not an improvement.

      Public debt interest (figures from Treasury budget papers):
      - Budget 2007-08: $3.5B
      - Budget 2013-14: $12.5B
      $9B per year added interest cost in the budget is not an economic improvement.

      GDP growth (ABS figures):
      - March 2006-March 2007: 3.8%
      - March 2012-March 2013: 2.5%
      A 1.3% fall in economic growth is not an economic improvement.

      The claim is so outlandishly a lie that any reasonably well informed reader should recognize it immediately, to the author's immense discredit. Discredit to the reader who didn't recognize it as well.

      report
    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Troy Barry

      Thanks for providing another kind of illustration of misusing the quite specific pejorative 'lie' to throw mud at something that is complex and arguable, but that you happen to disagree with . 'Truth' and 'your opinion' are not axiomatically the same thing (unless, possibly, your name is Rupert Murdoch, in which case you might be able to pull off the pea and thimble trick).

      report
    6. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Troy Barry

      Thank you Troy, that is an improvement. You have three economic indicators, four given the productivity growth I mentioned above. How many economic indicators do you recognise? (It's important to establish the threshold of "almost every indicator".) Also, you then need to draw a distinction between "bucking the international trend" and absolute performance (which you have started to establish) and provide evidence that the speaker meant to focus on absolute performance and either did or should…

      Read more
    7. Troy Barry

      Mechanical Engineer

      In reply to Dennis Alexander

      GDP growth and unemployment alone are sufficient to represent the "main economic indicators" (author's own words). We do not need to consider the international trend because the author's claim is lying specifically about current economic indicators compared to those preceding the Labor government. It is a lie, not mere ignorance, because the author is either lying about the economic facts or misrepresenting his knowledge of the facts - he is either lying about the facts or lying in his claim to…

      Read more
    8. Russell Marks

      Honorary Research Associate, School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University

      In reply to Troy Barry

      Sorry you feel that way Troy! Though I think my claim is justified on the figures.

      Debt-to-GDP is negligible: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/country-list/government-debt-to-gdp

      GDP-per-capita has increased about 13% since 2007: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/australia/gdp-per-capita

      Real wages have jumped 27% since 2007: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/australia/wages

      Household savings have doubled:
      http://www.tradingeconomics.com/australia/personal-savings

      Labour productivity…

      Read more
    9. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Russell Marks

      Although Russell, as Troy suggested, don't we need to compare debt-to-GDP in Australia in 2007 and 2013 - not compare Australia with other countries?

      Regarding wages growth, don't we need to compare the rate of growth in 2007 with now? Wages will almost always go up - a percentage figure showing that wages have increased since 2007 doesn't tell us much.

      report
    10. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Troy Barry

      "On almost every main economic indicator, Australia...is in a better position than it was when Labor won office from the Coalition in 2007."
      I agree, this statement is simply wrong. You could add to this list the ever rising Federal Government debt which will soon breach the 300 billion debt ceiling. It is difficult to believe the author does not know it to be wrong.

      report
    11. Russell Marks

      Honorary Research Associate, School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Thanks James. The debt-to-GDP comparison between 2007 and 2013 is relatively meaningless, especially if it was done with no consciousness of the GFC in 2008-09. That would be kind of like comparing public debt figures between 1938 and 1946: you see a massive spike. The larger point here is that debt by itself is not and cannot be always bad, but if a government increases a nation's debt it is legitimate to ask whether it's justified. And if an attempt to avoid the social and economic consequences…

      Read more
    12. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      Steve, you've failed to respon to Russell's sensible list of indicators, which, by the way, included data showing that Australia's public debt levels are remarkably low by world standards and were only created in order to (successfully) avoid the recession that slammed most of the rest of the developed world.

      Nobody is pretending that things are perfect but, in the face of the evidence Russell has provided, to simply revert to claims of wrongness adds nothing to the discussion.

      report
    13. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix, this tread is about the honesty of this statement.
      "On almost every main economic indicator, Australia...is in a better position than it was when Labor won office from the Coalition in 2007."
      I think Troy has successfully shown several main economic indicators that are now worse than in 2007. That is all that is required to show that the statement is wrong.

      report
    14. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Troy Barry

      Troy is giving us an excellent example of an intention to deceive.
      Vey clever, Troy.
      I wonder how many people noticed?

      report
  9. Kenneth Mazzarol
    Kenneth Mazzarol is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Retired Auto Engineer and teacher

    Most politicians are prostitutes. Prostitutes are those who sell themselves, their honour and abilities for base gain. A Statesman on the other hand is a person who takes a leading part in the management of State affairs regardless of personal financial gain.

    report
  10. Mike Brisco

    Scientist at Flinders University of South Australia

    Fair comment.

    So following your redefinition -

    -when politicians tell lies in the old sense , (eg saying the number of cyclists in Adelaide is falling - when surveys show it is increasing)-

    - what word should we use, to name that behaviour?

    We need one, because they still do this, all the time.

    report
    1. John Pollard

      Casual Observer

      In reply to Mike Brisco

      A lie, is a lie, is a lie!
      I know, I've told enough in my life. Haven't we all? But in the political world a change of policy, eg: Abbot's turnaround on Gonsky, is not a lie by any definition. Gillard's carbon tax about-face is the same.

      report
  11. Michael Hay

    retired

    Changing the definition of "lie" merely to suit the deterioration of political debate seems to me to be unjustified. What an awful world this would be if a person was unable to change his/her mind or attitude because a better thought had been brought forth.
    Far better to have intelligent debate (as on The Conversation) than accept a perpetuation of fixed ides with no ability for compromise. What next - a religious war?

    report
  12. John Holmes

    Agronomist - semi retired consultant

    Mmmm....

    "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness" seems to have been forgotten.

    This is very similar to the assumption that the "End justify the Means."

    Serious issues of how to assign responsibility.

    So trying work out who is getting exploited jut becomes more difficult. anyone for "Weapons of Mass Destruction"

    Our history is littered with such ideas. Why, because somebody gets ripped off every time. Trouble is that we do not remember history. Yes as load of cliches, yet its all been said too many times before, and the problem is that it needs to be again.

    report
    1. Ella Miller

      retired

      In reply to John Holmes

      After having read all of the posts before I am starting to feel like George Orwell's character who felt barraged "with psychological stimuli designed to overwhelm the minds capacity for independent thought" .
      It is only in Australia that we can afford to contemplate our navels and go round and round the topic. The intent of the phrase or word determines if it is true or not. The phrase" weapons of mass destruction " what was the intent?

      report
    2. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Ella Miller

      I feel that it is a spectacular manipulation of the truth for the benefit of the Military-Industrial complex, and in the process suppressing most questions as to the transfer of wealth from the population to the few. You cannot question the Flag can you?

      report
  13. Chris Saunders

    retired

    What a muddle of my sense of morality this redefinition of ‘to lie’ makes. So a change of semantics (the word tax) or a change of mind or policy is no longer known as political expediency but the ‘new’ lie. This redefinition is applied to an opponent’s behaviour in order to arouse the same disgust and condemnation as it would have done with an actual old fashioned lie with the meaning of attempting to deceive. So, how do we rationally consider the morality of the ‘new lie’? Is the teller of the…

    Read more