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Line in the sand

Yesterday Tony Abbott reflected on a tumultuous two week in politics by admitting he broke his promise on no cuts to the ABC and announced that the buck stopped with him as leader.

As Parliament enters its last week of siting before the summer break, Mr Abbott looked to reset the political agenda. In a 45-minute press conference, the country’s leader conceded that his party’s performance had been “ragged”.  “Obviously I take responsibility for everything in the end. I mean, the buck stops here. That’s the way it is in our democracy. The buck stops with the party leader. In respect of the government, the buck stops with me so I take full responsibility,” he said.

He has backtracked on reductions to the defence force personnel allowances, by giving back the day of Christmas leave, extra recreational leave, and food and travel allowance. Despite lobbying by Senator Jacqui Lambie, the Labor Party and military groups, he refuses to improve the 1.5 per cent annual pay rise granted over the next three years.

With predictions that the Budget deficit will be $5 billion worse this year than forecast in May, Mr Abbott showed conviction in the proposed budget measures which had stalled in the Senate, by revealing that the government would simply reset and forge ahead to break the budget impasse in the New Year. While many from within the Coalition had nominated that the $7 GP co-payment be shelved, this is just one of he measures with which the government will forge ahead.

“The general rule is we persist with the budget measure as announced … until we decide that there is an alternative way forward which, under all of the circumstances, makes sense. The circumstances obviously include the particular composition of the Senate at the moment.

“Plainly there are some things which are going to have a lot of difficulty in the Senate. We stand by them,” Tony said.

When questioned on his pre-election promise that there would be no cuts to the ABC, he responded, “I accept what we are doing with the ABC is at odds with what I said immediately prior to the election but things have moved on, circumstances are different. Going into that election, the then government was telling us the deficit for that year would be $18 billion it turned out to be $48 billion. I think sensible governments are not only entitled but, indeed, expected to change when the circumstances change.”

Even though admitting that the government was not perfect, with hand on his chest, the Prime Minster insisted that “whatever faults this government has, no one can accuse us of lacking courage.”

And he showed support for his beleaguered office staff, who have come under fire for not only giving bad advice, but also by blocking those who wish to offer alternative advice. “I stand by my office, I stand by all the senior members of my office,” Mr Abbott said.

Read more at The Guardian 

Opinion: Is truth and conviction enough?

Tony Abbott and his government have undoubtedly been under the pump in the last two weeks, but is admitting that you broke pre-election promises enough to garner trust going forward?

I can’t help but reflect on the attack the then Opposition made on Julia Gillard, calling her “JuLiar”, over her introduction of the carbon tax. Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop and members of the Coalition had attacked Ms Gillard’s pre-election promises with such forthright indignation, yet now, just a year after being elected on pre-election promises, the Government itself has back-flipped on its “no cuts to the ABC” conviction. Just because Tony Abbott stands up and admits he has broken this promise, are we expected to accept these said cuts?

I’m glad that Tony Abbott and his party are convinced that by forging ahead with the budget measures announced in May, he will get the country’s budget back on track. Someone has to be sure. The only thing I’m sure of is that budget measures such as changes to pension indexation, GP co-payments, fuel excise indexation and capping of deeming thresholds, will financially hurt the budgets of those who can least afford it. But as long as someone’s paying, that’s OK, eh Tony?

It’s not enough to admit in one breath that you’ve broken promises, while in the next you announce that you will carry on regardless, with little consideration for those who will really pay the price of your ‘success’.

But at least he did get one thing right. The buck does indeed stop with you, Tony, but as we have seen in Victoria this weekend, voters are not afraid to oust a one-term government on the ‘promise’ of something better.

Is it enough for the government to admit to broken promises? Or should it simply keep promises made? Does Tony Abbott’s conviction that his government is on the right track mean that you will support proposed budget measures which may ultimately hurt your back pocket?

 

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