IT is unusual to meet a politician who is not reasonably charming, thoughtful and respectful. Without these skills their chances of getting elected are very slim.Yet, collectively, they are becoming more and more despised almost by the day. And so many deserve the scorn that is being heaped upon them because they either practice hypocrisy or they support it. Integrity seems a lost concept in today’s politics.
Although such accusations have been constantly levelled at members of the ACT Assembly since its inception in 1989, generally their standing in the community should be recognised as being much higher than that of their Federal or NSW counterparts.
The revelations of the NSW Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC), and the involvement of so many from across the political spectrum in shonky deals, must surely horrify anyone who believes in democratic processes.
Tony Abbott’s litany of broken promises leaves him open to the same accusations he levelled on others while in opposition. In his case, the allegation of hypocrisy can be added.
We know that the welfare of the ACT, where the impact is greatest, is of no interest to the Abbott government. However, the impact of their broken promises will go much wider. It is part of an ongoing process of undermining the credibility of politicians and our democratic processes.
Never was the litany of broken promises as clear as when Joe Hockey stood to present the Budget on May 13. No new taxes! Ha! What is a levy if it is not a tax? Orwellian language does not excuse broken promises. The $7 co-payment for GP visits, the $5 co-payment on PBS listed medicines, the increases in fuel taxes, and two per cent for the high-income earners are just a start to the broken promises. And all the while providing a reduction in corporate tax and continuing to subsidise the mining industry with the diesel fuel rebate as they rip out our shared resources. Is it any wonder that politicians are frowned upon for untruths and hypocrisy?
No cuts to health was the pre-election commitment. Not so: eight billion dollars out of health. Two billion gone from hospitals. Prevention and primary health care emasculated with the abolition of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency, the Medicare Local Alliance, General Practice Education and Training, Health Workforce Australia and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. This fits most people’s concept of a broken promise. And not just a little one. Turns out it was a big, fat fib.
No wonder “The Canberra Times” could write in its editorial on May 14: “The hypocrisy of political discourse has few boundaries”.
Education was another area that the Abbott government told the pre-election community would be spared, along with the ABC and SBS. More idle promises. $43.5 million taken from the public broadcasters. Education was cut. $3.2 billion excised from the student loan scheme – making it even harder for socially disadvantaged people to access tertiary education. At the same time the Budget committed further funds for the school chaplaincy program. No wonder respect for politicians is at rock bottom.
The Budget is a triumph of ideology over common sense and integrity. On this occasion government ideology simply overreached community tolerance and trust. It is not just the Prime Minister and Treasurer, in such circumstances, all politicians are demeaned as untrustworthy, dishonest and only interested in their mates.