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Coalition hypocrisy? Abbott and Hockey in their own words

As Tony Abbott’s government prepares to hand down its first budget next month, there are surprise plans for a new “deficit tax” or levy, plus cuts to welfare payments for families earning over $100,000. Neither plan was mentioned before last year’s election. We compare what Coalition leaders are saying now with what they said before getting elected. Will there be some “nasty surprises and lame excuses” from Abbott after all?

On increasing taxation …

Then-shadow treasurer Joe Hockey in a media interview, June 29, 2010:

Because under us, let me tell you, Tim, I say it with absolute, absolute conviction and with no qualifications, we will always spend less than Labor, and we will always tax less than Labor.”

Then-opposition leader Tony Abbott, February 10, 2011, in a speech to Parliament on Labor’s temporary levy after the Queensland floods:

Why should the Australian people be hit with a levy to meet expenses which a competent, adult, prudent government should be able to cover from the ordinary revenues of government? … The one thing [people] will never have to suffer under a Coalition government is an unnecessary new tax, a tax that could easily be replaced by savings found from the budget.”

Then-opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey, January 25, 2011, on the flood levy:

This is a dumb idea … It will indirectly affect everyone because there will be less money and less spending in the community …”

Hockey on the flood levy, January 26, 2011:

It’s just plain stupid, dumb stuff.”

Abbott to a No Carbon Tax rally, August 16, 2011:

No tax collection before an election.”

Abbott speech to Parliament, September 14, 2011:

I say to this Prime Minister there should be no new tax collection without an election.”

Abbott, media conference, March 12, 2012:

What you’ll get under us are tax cuts without new taxes.”

Abbott media conference, November 20, 2012:

Abbott: We are about reducing taxes, not increasing taxes. We are about getting rid of taxes, not imposing new taxes.

Journalist: Is that a promise?

Abbott: This is my whole reason for being in politics, in the Parliament.

Liberal election policy, 2013:

But only the Coalition can be trusted to actually deliver tax cuts and genuine tax reform that will boost the economy and ease cost‑of‑living pressures for Australian families.”

In April 2014 it was revealed the Coalition plans to bring in a new “deficit tax” to get the budget closer to surplus. According to media reports, the tax would likely take the form of a direct levy or an increase in income tax rates, which would kick in for people earning $80,000-100,000. 

Abbott in a radio interview, April 29, 2014:

I think if there was a permanent increase in taxation that would certainly be inconsistent with the sort of things said before the election … I am committed to lower, simpler, fairer taxes. Do I say that no charges will rise? No, I don’t.”

On whether families on $150,000 should get social security …

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41 Responses

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  1. Hoist on his own petard. My fear is that he will change his course and avoid the catastrophe of biblical proportion that would result from implementing his’deficit levy’ thought bubble.

    I have never met a single person who voted for Gillard who would have changed their vote had they been told about the ‘carbon tax’ before they voted.

    I suspect there are many, many people who voted for Abbott, who would have changed their vote (perhaps to PUP, or the Nats) had they been told about the ‘deficit tax’.

    by Andybob on Apr 30, 2014 at 1:03 pm

  2. I am both appalled at their hypocrisy, and hope that they carry it out, and that perhaps Labor only points out that when they tried to do the same thing with the medical benefits rebate and other measures they were pilloried by all and sundry, that when they tried to enact responsible budgetary policy they were blocked at every turn.

    This tiresome debate, this non-sequitur that doubles for coalition policy (and republican policy in USA) that all taxation is bad is just the most brain-dead debate currently in public life.

    No country ever taxed itself to prosperity”, oh except for Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, god knows, there are a thousand examples of countries raising taxes and being prosperous, so many more than the examples of those countries dropping all their taxes and becoming prosperous. In fact, there is almost no certainty of a link between tax rates and prosperity, but let’s not let the facts get in the way of complete bullshit.

    The ole US of A republican mantra that reducing taxes actually increases tax revenues never, repeat, never occurred. The ‘trickle down’ effect never, repeat, never occurred.

    Let’s grow up, finally, and face reality. Taxes pay for our way of life, they don’t get in the way of it. The only debate worth having is about how efficiently tax is spent, and to a lesser extent how efficiently it is raised.

    by Dogs breakfast on Apr 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm

  3. That is all well and good but we can’t just add a letter to his name to have it include the word L- i a-r.

    When the Libs break a promise their supporters just say “All politicians do that” when the ALP do it is a capital offence.

    The worst part is I can live with extra taxes and some trims to middle class welfare if they wree going to worthwhile programs but all this slashing and taxing is simply to replace revenue lost from cutting the mining and Carbon taxes and pay for the PPL and Direct action.

    by Jimmy on Apr 30, 2014 at 1:16 pm

  4. True blue Tony.

    by Andybob on Apr 30, 2014 at 1:25 pm

  5. Tonyliar doesn’t sound right, but Tony,Tony,pant’s on fire, seems to work for me! Of course Slimy, hypocritical scumbag works better!

    by Recalcitrant.Rick on Apr 30, 2014 at 1:48 pm

  6. Dogs Breakfast - I am with you - I’m happy nto taxes and pay a little bit more to get the services we need but at the moment it looks like I will pay more tax, get less services and my extra tax will go to pay high income women a parental leave, allow big miner to be taxed less and pay big polluters to carry on business as usual.

    by Jimmy on Apr 30, 2014 at 1:50 pm

  7. Watching the Abbott trainwreck in real time, feels like the planets are aligning for a spectacular explosion.
    I just hope there are enough casualties, so the “one term” moniker actually comes true.

    by paddy on Apr 30, 2014 at 1:56 pm

  8. Cathy excellent article. Please send a copy of your article to the Australian and Tele and other MSM with written permission to plagiarise in full …especially I respect to the Tele. It would be interesting to see if it were to be printed in any of the MSM.

    by Bill Hilliger on Apr 30, 2014 at 2:14 pm

  9. Paddy - The problem is Abbott still has News Ltd onside - if the ALP had of done half what he has already they would be calling for a revolution - but instead the try to play up the budget emergency as much as possible.

    by Jimmy on Apr 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm

  10. It’s pretty breathtaking stuff - takes hypocrisy to a whole new level. I consider myself mature enough to accept that things can and do change, and that taxes may or may not need to be increased (on a “temporary” or “permanent” basis, as needs be) and governments should get on and govern and be judged every three years - they are elected to make decisions, not slavishly execute a checklist of things they run past a largely ill-informed and ignorant mob.

    So on one hand I have “sympathy” for Tony & Co and would rather they just be left to get on an run things as they see fit. HOWEVER, given the base, cynical politics he has played since becoming opposition leader, and saying or doing whatever it takes to get in power, I hope he cops a massive whack over all this, if for no other reason to (perhaps in vain) serve as a lesson for others what can happen if you try and emulate his gameplan.

    by seriously? on Apr 30, 2014 at 2:36 pm

  11. This hypcrisy should not really be a surprise to anyone tht was paying attention - there pre-election promises were so contradictory they couldn’t all be kept, Tony has a history of changing his position to whatever he thinks best on the day and he is on the public record that you can’t take what he says as truth.

    by Jimmy on Apr 30, 2014 at 2:38 pm

  12. Transmogrification” - Abbott style.

    by klewso on Apr 30, 2014 at 2:52 pm

  13. But is he worse than Howard?

    by klewso on Apr 30, 2014 at 2:53 pm

  14. I wonder how long even Murdoch’s Ministry of Misinformation can carry these fools?

    by klewso on Apr 30, 2014 at 2:57 pm

  15. Like some others, I feel oddly conflicted here. I’ll fall into the ‘deficit tax’ bracket and have absolutely no problem with paying more tax. In fact I think that’s the best idea this government have had so far and it should be permanent rather than temporary fix.

    But I also hope that News Ltd. and the 2GB shock jocks will roast them for broken promises in the same way they’ve done to Labor and the carbon tax.

    What’s more, as happy as I am to pay that extra tax, I really would much prefer if it goes towards, say, NDIS, Gonsky, NBN, etc. instead of buying some idiotic fighter plane toys.

    by Saugoof on Apr 30, 2014 at 2:58 pm

  16. Now everybody, repeat after Tony (but not Uncle Joe)…”It’s not a tax it’s a levy!”

    by MJPC on Apr 30, 2014 at 2:58 pm

  17. Saugoof - It’s not jsut the planes, it’s paying polluters to pretend they are doing something about pollution, allowing big mining companies to pay les tax, to fund a ridiculously genereous PPL, to allow high income earniing super funds to pay less tax etc etc.

    by Jimmy on Apr 30, 2014 at 3:00 pm

  18. Two thoughts:
    1. When does a surprise stop being a surprise? Surely once it has been foreshadowed in the media then its announcement is no longer a surprise.
    2. When Labor tries to introduce progressive taxation it’s called “Class warfare”. Does that mean when the Liberals try to do it it’s called “Class suicide”?

    by DF on Apr 30, 2014 at 3:52 pm

  19. Interesting point DF. Floating the ‘deficit tax’ has been roundly criticised by some of the Coalition’s traditional allies, right up to Miranda Devine, while some lobby groups for those on low incomes support it. Which makes sense; the concept is progressive (ie targets wealthier people).

    My hunch is that the budget will contain significant cutbacks to welfare, so the Coalition is floating the deficit tax now to give an early impression that they are not just targeting the poor with this budget. So it therefore helps the Coalition, in a way, that its traditional allies are crying foul …

    It’s a curious situation that progressives who would normally welcome higher taxes on wealthier people are strongly opposed to the notion of a deficit tax because a) it’s Abbott proposing it, and b) it breaks pre-election commitments (which is exactly what Abbott made so much political capital out of with Gillard and the carbon tax).

    by Cathy Alexander on Apr 30, 2014 at 4:12 pm

  20. CCathy - I don’t think it’s for those reasons that they are opposed exclusively - it is more because the deficit tax would be unnecessary if he kept the mining tax, kept the carbon tax, didn’t waste $2.5b on direct action, scrapped his PPL and kept Labors tax on high income super funds - all of these policies are confused and then the fact that $80k (not a particularly high figure) apears to be the threshold leads people to think that the burden is being shifted off the top end of town and on to the middle and low (when you include pensions cuts etc).

    by Jimmy on Apr 30, 2014 at 4:20 pm

  21. Cathy - re your last para, I agree entirely. I think Labor should let it go through, to demonstrate they are not obstructionist and also to keep faith with their traditional natural constituency. Labor will not lose any votes by letting it go through, and it will also encourage instability behind Abbott - a win/win it seems to me.
    Shorten needs to stop fighting the war with last year’s weapons.

    by DF on Apr 30, 2014 at 4:24 pm

  22. DF - Opposing it would be the best option because their traditional base aren’t going to hold it against them the swinging voter will approve because for some reason they are against tax hikes even if they don’t apply to them and most importantly it keeps the issue in the news for longer, making Abbott advocate for his broken promise for longer. If Labor wave it through the issue will be forgotten by June.

    by Jimmy on Apr 30, 2014 at 4:31 pm

  23. Abbott is trying to court the labor voters by saying he is taxing the big end of town. He will lose both because those who can really afford it and companies that should be paying tax in Australia have means not to do so. What Abbot needs to do is forget the paid parental leaves scheme and cut spending. The government is funding many projects we can’t afford as well as his idea of paying working woman to stay home to have babies, single mother’s pension. Yes pay for one mistake but why does it increase with more children until it is unprofitable for the women to go out to work. Make childcare affordable so these women can work. Create projects projects so that unemployment and single mother’s pensions are not free. It is bad when it is more profitable to live off the government that get a job. Money for counceling for couples- what a waste. We have too many public services. Working in the public service I have been appalled at the increasing unproductive paper work over the years that really does little but to keep people in jobs. Half my day is reading emails about policy changes and things I have to sign to say I understand rather than doing my job. Most of these don’t relate to me.

    If Abbott wanted to break his election promises he should break the GST one. Increase the GST to a reasonable level and have no exceptions services, food, rents collected, etc. All goods coming into Australia should be subject to the same GST. Companies however could claim this back. By increasing GST those who use the services pay for them.As one person said on business spectator set it at 20%. Have 10% set aside to be run by a separate body to look after our pensioners(who we obviously can’t afford as the numbers increase and 10% for the states, but it would be more cost effective to abolish the states and cut down the number of public servants. We are already overtaxed and our highest tax rates cut in at one of the lowest levels in the world. There should be a flat tax, perhaps 15% for those on less than $250,000, and 20% for companies and those with no deductions. Make money earned in Australia subject to Australian tax. eg companies expenses incurred outside of Australia eg management fees and outsourcing should be subject to the same rate of personal or company tax rather than being straight deductions. That would encourage companies to keep the jobs in Australia where they didn’t have to pay that tax. However to protect the unemployed and those on social services there should be an increase of 20% in all benefits- an increase of 10% in the GST will be more in the long run for those on lower wages.

    by Noelene Turton on Apr 30, 2014 at 4:38 pm

  24. Jimmy - Fair points.

    by DF on Apr 30, 2014 at 4:39 pm

  25. Our PM is obviously way out of his depth. His friends are turning. His backbenchers, especially those with short parliamentary careers, no entitlement to parliamentary pension and small majorities, can see that they must revolt or lose their dream.

    Couldn’t happen to a better bunch.

    The pity is that some of those who set the scene for the coming debacle are going to sail straight past the wreckage. In particular, I refer to segments of the Murdoch press, but there are others… climate change deniers with megaphones, antiscience nutters and the economically illiterate caterwaulers against imaginary debt amongst them.

    Best of all, Tony has selected a cabinet of old, unreliable, extremely reactionary right-wing men (and some women), thus placing them all together when the bloodletting starts.

    The next 5 or 6 years of Australian politics are certain to be interesting.

    by JohnB on Apr 30, 2014 at 5:22 pm

  26. I see, so reducing taxes is Abbott’s “whole reason for being in politics”. Oh well Tone, off you go then.

    And yes, Cathy, I also strongly suspect that the proposed debt levy may be a bit of an attention drawing charade.

    by Electric Lardyland on Apr 30, 2014 at 5:27 pm

  27. And yes JohnB, since Abbott seems to have largely surrounded himself with a coterie of bitter old men, I think a highly likely result, is that the bitterness levels in Australia are going to be significantly increased.

    by Electric Lardyland on Apr 30, 2014 at 5:31 pm

  28. Klewso, I reckon Howard was at least slimy-smart, but Abbott is just slimy-stupid….and he has surrounded himself with a slimy-stupid team.

    by leon knight on Apr 30, 2014 at 9:25 pm

  29. To Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey. Weclome to government, chaps. It’s hard to do, isn’t it.

    by PaulM on Apr 30, 2014 at 10:17 pm

  30. In response to Klewso @ #12 “But is he worse than Howard?”

    Malcolm Fraser MkII?

    by Rpinglis on May 1, 2014 at 8:36 am

  31. They make it look like it’s almost as hard to stop throwing stones and govern, as it is to walk and chew gum?

    by klewso on May 1, 2014 at 8:36 am

  32. And of course what will make some of these plans so interesting is what happens when they’re presented to Clive Palmer’s mob in the Senate (yes, some will go through before July 1, but not everything).

    The Coalition managed to create the impression that the Gillard govt having to negotiate with Windsor / Oakeshott / Bandt was ‘unstable’, and ‘Labor selling itself to the Greens’ etc etc. So what happens after July 1, when Clive Palmer is the Windsor / Oakeshott equivalent?

    Palmer has been quite erratic lately, and some of his MPs are unpredictable and may struggle to get across complex public policy detail. It will sure get interesting. Voters may come to yearn for the times when the BOP was held by MPs of the calibre of Tony Windsor.

    by Cathy Alexander on May 1, 2014 at 8:59 am

  33. Will there be some “nasty surprises and lame excuses” from Abbott after all? Is the sun going to rise tomorrow?

    by Lubo Gregor on May 1, 2014 at 9:41 am

  34. And to think they crucified Gillard for changing her mind once

    by beachcomber on May 1, 2014 at 12:51 pm

  35. Cathy @32, “Clive Palmer has been quite erratic … LATELY” !!!
    Noelene @23, Australia is in fact one of the lowest taxed nations - as proportion of GDP - in the OECD. Agreed though on the GST. It should cover all goods and services and be at a higher rate as it’s difficult to avoid paying it. The problem with making it payable on all goods coming into Australia is it becomes more expensive to administer than the revenue collected at the lower end of the scale, so it probably makes more sense to keep the $1000 threshold.
    Finally, is anyone really surprised that Mista Rabbit was being economical with the truth pre-election? It should’ve been apparent to anyone with half a brain, during the four years he was opposition leader, he’s a “whatever it takes” politician.

    by Tyger Tyger on May 1, 2014 at 1:24 pm

  36. Suzanne Blake where art thou?

    by Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay on May 1, 2014 at 4:53 pm

  37. Abbott Lies.
    http://tiny.cc/dld7ex
    http://tiny.cc/q3c7ex

    by Stanko on May 2, 2014 at 8:50 am

  38. The Abbott government will be a one term admintration. The Method of winning was Negativity — supported by the press corps which took the profession in to the sewer of malice, beatups to oversell a party unprepared for governemnt - one advised by Murdoch not to upset the electorate and we will elect you, build up expectaions by saying “wait till we are elected and then we will announce policies” . ( Note the front page ” exclusives in the Australian ” — all part of the deal). Elected with a cupboard bare of policy; other than to dismantle the last 6 years of Labor legislation and the implement the 75 point IPA policy “wish list” so well illustrated by various Crikey articles and blogs.
    The outcome is the the electorate is being subjected to the worst government since federation. It is so niave so rather than gain control of the Senate post July it has so antagonise the electorate that in fact it has now lost complete control of the policy agenda. Palmer and the Greens now determine the passage of legislation. No government has in 8 months has broken every UN human rights convention of the processing of refugees, trashed the efforts to combat climate change; trashed the education curriculu; intends to allow bigotry dressed up as free speech — trashed a sound economy and with the scare mongering of the Commission of Audit any recovery of consumer and business confidence is expected to fall to an all time low. “Calling” the car industry to go — so they left — -without a plan for providing employment for the 100,000 in the supply chain that will be put out of work by their exit. The list is endless and the Liberal political rhetoric purile for the last 3 years whether it be on economics or anything else for that matter. The electorate is betrayed - treated like fools — lied to — - but even worse than that — any reasong or engagement has been absent. ” We know what is best for you’ so grin and bear it” and bit like Macmillan in the UK with and and equal purile slogan of ” You have never had it so good”.
    If Abbott wants to redirect government policy then there needs to be a open debate with the electorate so that the electorate can be convinced and thus adjust percptions accordingly.
    The Abbott Government does not even have the decency to consult its own Party Room, let alone the Parliament as they hide behind a biased speaker and the doctrine minders in the PM’s office who intimidate members to maintain the party line and to protect an incompetent PM.
    Let this be the end of media driven populism and the corruption of democracy by dollarocracy as is now manifest in NSW and smouldering in Victoria as Australia cannot afford to elect an inept administration that promised much and has delivered absolutely nothing constructive but has excelled all expectations in delivering malice, and good old self serving bloody mindedness.

    by tonyfunnywalker on May 3, 2014 at 5:08 pm

  39. how about we tax the likes of ebay, google, apple alot more

    by Lucas Johnstone on May 4, 2014 at 11:27 am

  40. An ideal outcome Lucas - unfortunately said are easily able to move their profits to off-shore tax-havens who have no interest in assisting us to (rightfully) claim that tax.

    by Chris Hartwell on May 5, 2014 at 8:20 am

  41. The reality is, just as it has been in the past with Howard lying about ‘children overboard, and fighting a war that we voted against, we cannot trust our politicians, the majority of which basically are ordinary folk with questionable qualifications, handed ‘portfolios’ as if they were honorary doctorates, bestowing them with pseudointellectual ‘expertise’. My preteen child has more of a legitimate moral stance than Abbott. The people of Australia forget…always forget - this is the saddest point. We always weigh our way of life against that of developing nations, gloating about what we have, but in actual fact, we don’t have as much as may think, and so called ‘democracy’ in Australia, I would file closer to the ‘fiction’ section. Gosh, get back to basics. If the people vote for a candidate, who then lies, ignores promises, contradicts decisions, basically, throws all elements of truth out the window - who then have we voted for? Let’s ‘cut out the middleman’ save the millions spent on campaigning and simply appoint any arrogant, deceitful, lying, charlatan off the street. With the funds saved, we could help balance the budget. There is just no point listening to anything they say; as for respect, you have got to be joking.

    by Phillip Arena on May 8, 2014 at 12:36 am

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