Defending the Abbott government’s decision to cut more than $300 million from the public broadcaster budgets yesterday, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Prime Minister’s election eve commitment to make no cuts to the ABC or SBS must be taken in “context”.

Here at Crikey, we agree. Below is just some of the context we found while searching online this morning.

“I know it’s customary to be cynical about politicians, but politicians should not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. I know that from time to time force majeure intervenes, but it is a terrible blow to trust in our polity when politicians break solemn commitments of this nature.” — Tony Abbott, November 8, 2011.

“[The next election is] a referendum on political parties that break their promises and prime ministers who say one thing to win votes and then do another thing — the opposite thing — to hold on to their job.” — Tony Abbott, November 8, 2011.

“The ABC will flourish under the Coalition. Certainly, the ABC will continue to be a trusted and respected iconic national institution under the Coalition in the future as it has been in the past.” — Tony Abbott, August 20, 2013.

“We will be a no-surprises, no-excuses government … You could trust us in opposition, and you will be able to trust us in government … This election is all about trust.” — Tony Abbott, August 25, 2013.

“No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no changes to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.” — Tony Abbott, September 6, 2013.

“Well — well, look, you know, I mean, I’ve defended the Prime Minister on this today and earlier in the week. I think you’ve got to take his comments, which — look, I mean, what he said, he said, and, you know, it’s there, it’s on the record. But you’ve got to take that in the context. And I can only assume that what Mr Abbott was referring to or was thinking about, anyway, was the proposition that there would be cuts in — with the intent of reducing ABC services, and we’ve ruled that out.” — Malcolm Turnbull, November 19, 2014.

Funny how Turnbull’s trademark eloquence seems to have deserted him on this issue.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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