Truth and integrity from the Howard Government
The Brisbane Bloggers at Online Opinion have come up with a beautiful
example of the Howard Government’s idiosyncratic approach to truth and
integrity. They’ve revealed the facts behind “Labor’s secret $3 petrol
plan?” and exposed the expose contained in a media release from
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane. Here’s the story in full:

“I recently invested some time investigating a government press release
merely to find it was one of the worst beat-ups I have ever seen.
Rather than waste my time, I’ve decided to write about the experience.

“The release came to me courtesy of another, perhaps more gullible,
Liberal Party friend. I received an email with the subject line
‘Labor’s secret $3 petrol plan’. The text read “You may like to read
the attached press release about Labor’s petrol tax!!!!!! One would
like to know why it has not been mentioned in our news bulletins, I
have not seen or heard of it. Have you?”

“Having read the release I now know why it has not been mentioned in
any news bulletins. You too can read the release by clicking on www.liberal.org.au. The major points are:

  • Carmen Lawrence launched a Labor Party policy called Oil: Living with Less in May
  • The policy advocates raising the excise on oil to European levels
  • Europeans pay $3 per litre of petrol so Australians will pay $3 per litre of petrol
  • It will cost $210 to fill the tank of a Holden Commodore; and
  • This is how the Labor Party is going to raise enough tax to pay for its election promises.

“It is on the letterhead of Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry,
Tourism and Racing, and was presumably prepared by Kirsty Boazman, the
media contact nominated by the release. I’ve rung Kirsty for her
comments on the release, but to date, no reply. No wonder.

“Here are the facts. Carmen Lawrence did launch a policy called Oil:
Living with Less. It is not an ALP policy but belongs to the
Sustainable Transport Coalition of Western Australia. She launched it
in March, not May. The policy does advocate increasing the excise to
European levels. I can’t find any evidence of Carmen endorsing it, let
alone Mark Latham. Complete beat-up.

“But even as beat-ups go it is incompetent. I actually started looking
for the ALP policy because the release itself was inconsistent. You
might have noticed that it claims that petrol will reach $3 per litre
because that is what Europeans pay. It also says the policy is to
increase the rate of excise to European levels. So, are all other
things equal between Australian and European petrol? Apparently not.
The release told me: ‘Of that A$3 European price, about A$1.30 is tax,
more than three times the Australian excise rate of 38.1 cents per
litre.’

“Wait a bit, the price of Australian fuel is only nudging about $1 per
litre and the difference between what we pay in excise and what the
Europeans pay is 91.9 cents. Doesn’t that mean that the maximum price
for fuel would only be $1.92 a litre, not $3? Indeed. But wait, there’s
more.

“The tank of a Commodore holds 75 litres. That means that if the price
of fuel really was $3 a litre, then it would cost $225 to fill a tank,
not the $210 that Kirsty claims. Not only are her external facts wrong,
but none of her internal mathematics adds up either.

“The government has enough credibility problems at the moment. Why
would a Minister be trying to get away with this sort of guff? To make
matters worse, the release is also up on the official Liberal Party
website. In every election since 1996, even if the elected members and
their staff have been prepared to act like complete geese, the Federal
Secretariat has generally kept its cool and its focus. Propagating this
release rather than shredding it suggests that all is not well in the
Death Star either. Hope they’re not running on empty.”

The whole sad tale is at Ambit Gambit: Labor’s secret $3 petrol plan? – and the pathetic press release was still up at the Lib’s site last night.

Peter Fray

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