The Politics of Lies and Tax Cuts

I don’t think it’s worth jumping up and down about. The tax changes, that is. The proposed changes to the income-tax scales lower taxes from where they are now. That’s a good thing. The so-called Stage Three tax cuts were only ever hypotheticals. Beware of any beneficial legislation which takes effect only years ahead. Prior to the 1993 elections, Paul Keating emphasised that promised tax cuts were already “L-A-W law.” He repealed the law once elected. In 1988 George H W Bush told people to “read my lips: no new taxes”. He raised taxes in 1990. Politicians can’t be trusted. Quelle surprise!

One TV commentator described Anthony Albanese’s about-face as theft. I’ll save his blushes and keep him anonymous. All progressive taxes are theft. Albanese can’t be singled out. There is some social license and biblical support to tax proportionately; that is to say, tithing. Beyond that it’s only the force of a gun that extracts 40 percent of one person’s income compared with just 10 percent of another’s. The commentator in question had a more going for his criticism of Albanese when he described him as a liar.

Lying is a very terrible thing. It destroys trust. Trust is at the very core of our peerless Judeo-Christian civilisation. We trust each other; therefore we prosper. Lies erode trust. How much are you ever going to trust me once I have lied to you?

It is necessary to define lies in this context. In this context, lies aren’t fibs. Lies aren’t things we say to save people from distress. Your nose-job looks fine when it doesn’t. Lies aren’t being mistaken. George Costanza was right about that. “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” Lying is saying things which you know are not true to gain material advantage or to put someone else at material disadvantage. Deception is another word for lying in this context.

Is the Prime Minister a liar and therefore, as night follows day, not fit for office? Albanese has form. The evidence is building. He claimed the Voice was “a modest proposal”; a generous offer. Arguably, he tried to deceive voters by mischaracterising this far-reaching and racially-divisive proposition. You might also recall his deceptive comment that the 860 Gazan refugees let into the country were only on “temporary” visas, full well knowing that the courts will prevent them from ever being returned if they don’t want to go. I’ll let him off his oft-repeated claim that household electricity prices would fall by $275 by 2025. He probably believed it. Mark him down for jejune gullibility, not necessarily for lying.

Lying, as I’ve defined it, is not common. It’s a mistake to say that Western political leaders habitually lie. They don’t. Our civilisation would not survive if they did. They frequently go back on their word. That’s not the same thing.

Julia Gillard was characterised by some as a liar because of her backflip on CO2 taxation. Certainly, the reversal of her position on taxing CO2, after winning a close-call election, damaged her credibility. At the same time, she may have had no intention of introducing the tax when she made her pre-election commitment. In which case, she did not lie about that. She later misspoke, as it were, when explaining that the carbon tax was forced on her as a substitute for an emissions trading scheme which she would have otherwise introduced. Sorry, we had the video tape of her going to the election with everything up in the air and in the hands of soon-to-be-established “citizens’ assembly.” Verdict: a lie but not of major proportions. And certainly not enough to disqualify her from office.

If you want bare-faced lying watch Bill Clinton telling the American people: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, er, Miss Lewinsky.” It still takes your breath away. Ergo, it can’t be all that common. So back to Albanese and his taxation backflip. Apparently he promised to stand by the Stage Three tax cuts one-hundred times. Someone must have been counting. I don’t rate most of those assurances last year as being meaningful. He probably thought the stage-three cuts, having been legislated, would likely stand. He might perhaps have given a false impression of their immutability. That’s about it.

However, by January 17 this year Treasury was already well into reworking the stage-three cuts. Jim Chalmers said so. Thus when, on January 17, as reported by numbers of news outlets, Albanese told radio station Triple M in Adelaide that the cuts as legislated would stand (“We’re committed to that. Well, we haven’t changed our position on that.”), he was evidently lying. Lying through his teeth. How else can it be construed?

Is it apt , I wonder, to bring to bear the inimitable Charles Laughton in the movie Witness for the Prosecution (1957)? Marlene Dietrich, also inimitable, is in the witness stand and under Laughton’s withering cross-examination:

“The question is whether you were lying then or are you lying now or whether in fact you are a chronic and habitual LIAR!”

The jury is out on the Prime Minister, I think. But he is sailing close to the wind. One more lie and maybe the phrase chronic and habitual liar will start having a ring of truth to it.

35 thoughts on “The Politics of Lies and Tax Cuts

  • nfw says:

    What,albasleazy lie to us? A socialist and a politician? How odd. It’s a shame these tax cuts weren’t L-A-W law. Oh that’s right, that was a lie too.

    • gamskp says:

      Like Whitlam, key Labor ministers and the PM are probably members of the Fabian Society and are running a Fabian agenda. I notice the Orange tie appearing more often.


    “But he is sailing close to the wind.” Arrr, too late me hearties. It is Labour’s rime. Albanese has morphed into Albatross.

  • Botswana O'Hooligan says:

    “mr. alebenese is one of the better practitioners of prevarication” in a profession?? littered with those who prevaricate, might be a better way of describing his loose way of dealing with the truth. The taxation system needs an overhaul in any case but that will never happen and we must take solace in the fact that we aren’t paying a tax on windows, watches, fireside hearth, etc. Yet!

  • Clocks Strike 13 says:

    The reason they lie is because they so often get away with it. There will be an immediate reckoning in the media but the hope is that in 18 months when the election is held, the voters will have forgotten about it or take the view that there are other more important things that outweigh the lie, and in any event, a liar for a Prime minister is still better than the alternative. Politicians will only stop lying when there is some more immediate sanction, such as a conviction for an offence or a power in a court to declare the lie so egregious that the seat of the liar-or the whole government be put to an early election.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    “I’ll let him off his oft-repeated claim that household electricity prices would fall by $275 by 2025.”

    You are being overly generous here, Peter. The specificity of the figure of $275 three years out is totally implausible. Everyone knew it and Albanese must have too yet he attached no caveat to it. That’s lying in my book.

    • Peter Smith says:

      Yes, you’re probably right Peter. But then Albanese and Chalmers and Bowen all relied on modelling from RepuTex. The whole climate and renewable energy scams live off modelling. So my excuse for Albanese et al is that they occupy a modelling world within which fantasy becomes real (to them). AEMO and the CSIRO occupy the same world; as, of course, does the IPCC.

  • lbloveday says:

    Quote: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, er, Miss Lewinsky.”
    For that to be a lie, Clinton must have had an understanding that his actions constituted “sexual relations”. If not, then “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” comes into play.
    He was subsequently acquitted on the impeachment charges of perjury in regards to his denial of sexual relations in a lengthy U.S. Senate trial.
    What constitutes “sexual relations”? At that time I was far from an orphan in thinking it meant as in the present day on-line Merriam-Webster dictionary:
    sexual relations
    plural noun
    sexual intercourse
    Kids Definition
    sexual intercourse
    Medical Definition
    If I paid a woman to perform fellatio once off, or regularly over a lengthy period, I would not have considered that constituted sexual relations, nor would others I know. Similarly if I helped a woman to use a dildo.
    So, in my opinion and that of some mates, Clinton did not lie on that occasion, and a majority of the US Senators agreed with us.

  • GrantB says:

    “One more lie and maybe the phrase chronic and habitual liar will start having a ring of truth to it.”

    It’s just 1 page…

  • pgang says:

    He’s still no match for Morrison, who really set the bar with his net zero practical joke. What with Frydenberg’s bottomless appetite for debt and Morrison’s integrity void, who needs socialists when you’ve got the Liberal Party?
    Still, nice to hear Albo getting booed at the Open. It seems Australians are awake after all.

  • Brian Boru says:

    ” All progressive taxes are theft.” Why Peter?
    If taking from somebody without their agreement is theft then all tax must be, even the tithing you mentioned. You can’t be a little pregnant, it either is or it isn’t.
    But what is your argument against progressive taxation which is (I would say) almost universally accepted as a socially positive policy? It ensures that people who are most able, contribute more and the bad consequences of income inequality are moderated.
    Provided progressive taxation is not so high as to stifle entrepreneurship and career aspirations, it must be socially beneficial.

    • tom says:

      If we can agree that theft happens when property is taken without the consent of the property owner, then taxation is clearly theft. If taxation is funding the cost of the state you might justify that theft as a lesser evil to there being no state at all. If taxation is being used as a mechanism of wealth transfer, which our progressive tax system certainly is, then I think it is pretty clearly theft and difficult to justify on moral grounds (robbing Peter to pay Paul). You might like the social benefits associated with this theft (greater equality etc), you might think the alternative is worse, but it should not be difficult to conclude that it is still theft.

    • Peter Smith says:

      Brian, you say “If taking from somebody without their agreement is theft then all tax must be, even the tithing you mentioned.”
      Not if your moral code comes from the Bible. Tithing is established in the Old Testament and mentioned in the New Testament, for example, in Matthew 23:23. Clearly, progressive taxation has taken the game beyond tithing; well beyond. It has no moral anchor and produces (to me anyway) objectionable outcomes. For example, close to 75% of income taxes are paid by just 10% of taxpayers in the US. The bottom 50% of taxpayers pay almost nothing at all. And, of course, this excludes non-taxpayers who pay absolutely nothing at all.
      Progressive tax is nothing more than the tyranny of the majority, backed by men with guns. Does it work anyway? No, it doesn’t. Governments overspend on the back of it and the rich still become richer; and a good job too, otherwise we would have no saving and therefore no capital accumulation. Imagine ten of us marooned on an island. The eight able-bodied each agree to give 20% of their labour to support two who are infirm. Result happiness. Now let the majority vote to extract 40% from the most productive islander and share the proceeds around. Result discontentment. And, now, the productive islander can’t store enough food way to build a boat which would have benefited everyone. And if he does work extra harder, let’s take 50%.

    • Brian Boru says:

      Tom and Peter, we have discussed that taxation can technically fit a definition of theft. Peter though carves out a tithe from that by biblical authority.
      However,if one is content to be part of the social contract involved in a civilized society, then the need for tax is implicit. It then becomes a question only of style and amount and political consequences, not of theft or not.
      We differ on whether progressive tax can be justified or not on its social implications. That is a question, I think, which has largely been settled by the practice of most governments.
      But “De gustibus non est disputandum”.

      • Occidental says:

        “However, if one is content to be part of the social contract involved in a civilized society, then the need for tax is implicit.“
        I am not so sure about this idea which is often repeated. You can look at the question from service delivery, ie where taxes are used, say for schools, hospitals, and roads. Clearly in all of these the service could be provided by the market more efficiently. Even border monitoring and quarantine could be provided by the “market”.
        The one area which it seems to me that taxation will always be required is the fighting of wars. The reason of course is that most will not want to contribute, and the burden of funding such an endeavour will be too onerous for the few who are willing.It was this system that led to the fuedal system and the increasing cost which led to its dismantlement.
        The overwhelming use of taxation today is political. Welfare atleast in Australia is a vote buying exercise. The recipients dont need the money, they want the money. And they reward the party which delivers it. I will challenge anyone to come up with a neccesary service that can not be provided by the market.

    • pgang says:

      Beware of all socialist constructs Brian. They might look like shiney apples on the outside, but before you know it you’re eating worms and getting kicked out of the garden. Progressive taxation is a form of wealth levelling, or redistribution. It is pure socialism, and is morally repugnant in that it is grossly unfair to those who earn more.

  • STD says:

    You’re too kind Peter in giving Albanese (pronounced Al- bin-ese) the benefit of some very real Christian doubt, never the less, politics, people and their modes of thinking all possess a degree of dynamism ; straddling the fence – I guess as Tony Abbott mentioned here “politics is the art of the (what’s) possible”…..time being the uncontrollable variable- thought and speech are evolutionary by their very nature- survival of the fittest- context.
    As for Bill Clinton……he did nod….and he didn’t tell anyone to lie..not a “””single”””time!-maybe multiple times comes to mind as truth!
    As for the use of his wavering finger, was he laying down the law, in effect vetoing the accusation?
    “If you want bare-faced lying watch Bill Clinton telling the American people: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, er, Miss Lewinsky.” It still takes your breath away.”.
    Yes but…., Peter, which woman contextually speaking?
    Was he actually lying or being hard and fast with the interpretation of truth and playing Russian roulette-with the sympathetic media?-feeding them!
    Were his utterances to be taken as tongue in cheek? – humouring who exactly?
    Was he telling or informing or accusing Miss Lewinsky of some sort of double standard – now with the benefit of hindsight?
    Did he have sexual relations with his wife at that time?
    What context did he have in mind?
    Was he related to either woman by familial extension? In other words was there a taxonomic connection that would a have forbade those relations sexually and morally in a western legal context? – Was it incest vis a vis marriage?
    Secular context – was it acceptable. Does that make it ok or alright in that light?
    Variety is a spice…right!
    Or was the shoe on the other foot at some point-the opposite then/now being the truth?
    One thing’s for certain the mind tells mouth when to open.
    Certainly does one’s head in when you go down this sort of rabbit hole.

  • lbloveday says:

    Quote: For example, close to 75% of income taxes are paid by just 10% of taxpayers in the US. The bottom 50% of taxpayers pay almost nothing at all. And, of course, this excludes non-taxpayers who pay absolutely nothing at all.
    Starts off well -“75% of income taxes” but ends up with “non-taxpayers who pay absolutely nothing at all”, dropping of the income bit. I don’t know the US taxation system, but in Australia doesn’t everyone pay some GST at a minimum? If so there is no-one who pays “absolutely nothing at all”.
    Income tax accounts for around 40% of Australian Taxes but there are well over another 100 taxes. One year I paid $0 Income Tax but over $500,000 in just one of the other taxes. By some reckonings that made me one of the “non-taxpayers who pay absolutely nothing at all”.

  • STD says:

    I would just like to add to my Bill Clinton comments, in order to make one point clear. The waving and pointing, sort of reminded me of the motions of a trial judge taking back control of his court room; in the case of Clinton he could have been courting the media circus back to order ( exercising power and laying down the law) reminding the left wing media, by executive order ( I’m your man) if you will.

  • Homer J says:

    A quote from the Simpsons: “Marge, it takes two to lie…one to lie and one to listen.”

  • Peter Fenwick says:

    This is John Galt speaking..

    Anthony Albanese is to be commended for cancelling the Stage 3 tax cuts.

    Under the revised rates, those earning more than $150,000 per annum (‘the rich”) will pay more and those earning under $150,000 (“the poor”) will pay less.
    That seems fair.

    In fact, the 37% rate kicks in at $135,000.
    So workers earning over $135,000 are paying 7% above the corporate rate.
    Yes 7% more than Woollies and BHP.

    If the rich don’t like it, the answer is in their hands.
    They need to reduce their annual income to below $135,000.
    If employed, they can work fewer hours, and if running a business they can downsize and employ fewer workers.

    For young people, $135,000 per annum should be the extent of their ambition.
    There is no point in spending years learning your trade and developing your skills only to have 45% of your income taken in tax. Nor is there any point in risking your time and capital developing a business.

    So let us not have a lot of whinging and gnashing of teeth over the government’s new tax plans.
    They have been carefully crafted for our own good.

  • MargieCJ says:

    The Labor rabble, headed by Anthony Albanese, constantly demanding their Net Zero skulduggery is sending Australia broke, because the only way they can afford to pay for this fraud, is to increase taxes on the Australian workers and increase the costs of our energy usage.

    Remember that there are more than 400 nuclear power reactors in operation in 32 countries around the world but in the backwater known as Australia, we don’t even have ONE nuclear power station which would significantly reduce our energy costs.

    China is the most polluted country on the Planet and yet the Australian government is feeding their poisonous smog by selling the Communist Chinese our coal, iron ore, gas, uranium and anything else they want, at the same time, we are forbidden from using these materials ourselves. We are told we must use bird slaughtering, non-biodegradable, visually and noise polluting wind turbines made in China that cost the earth connecting to the electrical grid with copper wire going everywhere; as well as solar panels made in China that are taking over hectares of our once beautiful countryside. Australians are told we must reach ZERO carbon emissions but the Australian Government gives our enemy, the CCP, free rein to IGNORE their massive contribution to the so-called “climate emergency”.

    There is no doubt about it, under this failed Labor Government, Australia is a basket case just waiting to be officially proclaimed a vassal state of China.

  • Watchman Williams says:

    Why has this about face by the Government aroused such negative comment? The lie is the currency of politics.

    • ianl says:

      The answer to that is seen, I contend, in the smugness of Brian Boru’s comments above.

      Essentially, his view is that those who appear to have won the genetic lottery must give 40-50% of their effort to everyone else. Since the Govt has the guns, and the recipients of this forced transfer are rapaciously ungrateful but demanding, Brian contends that this is the accepted way.

      That those who are imposed upon may be justifiably resentful is irrelevant to this gross equation, merely expressing their annoyance in booing a PM at a tennis match.

      • Brian Boru says:

        I was interested to see Ian that you used the expression “won the genetic lottery” rather than something like “those who through study, hard work and application”.
        We might possibly differ on our view of entitlement, I believe only those classified by my latter description are entitled. You appear to believe that just because a person is born smarter or stronger that they are entitled.
        I have a belief that if a person diligently applies the utmost of their talents and abilities, then they have as much entitlement as anyone else doing the same with the gifts that they have. You have implied that just because a person has been born with more natural gifts that they fortuitously are entitled to more.
        The difference is what is my personal definition of left and right. I am on the left in that sense.
        However, I think you must have missed my statement above; “Provided progressive taxation is not so high as to stifle entrepreneurship and career aspirations, it must be socially beneficial”. I made that statement because I believe society needs all people to make the most of their gifts.
        I think I differ from many political leftists in that I believe in society using freedom and incentive rather than restriction and coercion.
        Thank you Ian for giving me the opportunity to explain all that.

        • Occidental says:

          I am trying to get a better understanding of where you are coming from Brian. I understand that you are not in favour of progressive taxation where it would inhibit activity or effort (who is?). Yet you see no negative for the recipient in receiving money taken from someone else by compulsion? The best example is where an aborigine born in a river bed to an alcoholic mother is assisted by the government throughout life from taxation taken from say a wealthy descendant of a lottery winner, who has never worked. Most on the left would say that is the most defensible of wealth transfers. Do you see no negatives in such a transfer, either for the recipient or the economy?

          • Brian Boru says:

            Thanks for posing that hypothetical Occidental but I think it is off the question and doesn’t take account of my statements and the qualifications I made thereon which are about the entitlements that working individuals have to share in the goods of society. As I said, “I believe society needs all people to make the most of their gifts”.
            You have taken a debate on progressive taxation at the macro level to a consideration of welfare for the disadvantaged with a sad example. My view is that the disadvantaged or disabled do not have an entitlement as any kind of right but rather that we have an obligation to provide assistance. In providing that assistance we have to be careful not to create dependence such that it causes recipients not “to make the most of their gifts”. Your example rightly puts the spotlight on the sorry mis-application of welfare to aboriginals in remote communities. That is a different issue to progressive taxation and it would exist regardless of what system of taxation we have. We may have some measure of agreement there.
            The main question, put another way, is how do we create a productive, fair and just society. I say progressive taxation helps achieve that and it is practically universal.

            • Occidental says:

              Brian the words “productive”, “fair”, and “just” are entirely subjective, you might as well have said “beautiful”. I have a sense of what you are getting at, but surely you see that your “fair” (or any of the other adjectives), might not be my fair, or for that matter anyone else’s. The most meaningless word though, is “society”. If you said country or nation then it can be defined, but society is this nebulous concoction of ever changing humanity not defined by borders, or individuals, but merely your aspiration.
              But getting back to your defense of progressive taxation, in what rationale place is it defensible or worthy to tax the income of say an inventor of the cure for cancer. Most would agree that his or her invention is the greatest contribution a human being could make to humanity, and the income derived should be the inventors forever. Moreover by not taxing it surely we encourage others to likewise help us defy the slings and arrows of mortal existence.
              Take for instance the electrician I call at midnight to restore power to my home. Surely if we agree on a payment for his service he should keep it all, but no in the interests of a “productive, fair, and just society” government steps in and takes a proportion, which changes depending on how hard the electrician has already worked?
              The reality is those people with the highest incomes are usually already the most productive and useful individuals in the country. We tax them more highly because they don’t move at the current marginal rate. Once they start to move the marginal rate will drop till we find a point again where they remain. All this is done because government needs to take the money, at the lowest political cost, for its own purposes, what ever they may be from time to time. But creating a more productive just and fair society has never been one of them, save in minds of the most naive politicians.
              Your comment that progressive taxation is almost universal is true, but not because of the causes you suggest, but because governments are universal, and they all have the same need, ie to continue to fund their existence.

              • Brian Boru says:

                You are right, “productive”, “fair”, and “just” are entirely subjective.
                That is why, a long way above, I said “De gustibus non est disputandum”.
                We have gone about as far as we can go, goodbye Occidental and thank you for your comments.

  • Alasdair Millar says:

    There isn’t much point in arguing over the credentials of a progressive tax system, as the expectation that we might develop a policy of charging every taxpayer a flat rat of whatever is futile, in spite of the flat rate that applies to company profits regardless of their extent. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” can be construed as supporting a progressive system, which within bounds is not unreasonable. The problem is that if the rate is very high in a system in which effort is encouraged and is assumed to justify reward it appears (even to governments) as punishment for success and thus highly undesirable. The article is about whether Albanese lied, and the recent history proves he did. The result that each individual taxpayer will be compensated for inflation by $15-$20 per week is a laughably small adjustment for such a big lie. I wonder why the PM just did not say in advance that the economic situation affecting lower- and middle income taxpayers had changed in such a way as to justify a tax adjustment in their favour, because if he had done so the only argument would be about whether the adjustment was worthwhile (see above) or whether it maintained the removal of bracket creep in the discarded Stage 3 cuts (the answer is no). In a way, the argument over the lie is a distraction from the paucity of the change.

  • Lewis P Buckingham says:

    Ronald Regan had some comments about the honesty of politicians.

  • Louis Cook says:

    Tax cuts are ALWAYS UP!

  • Geoff Sherrington says:

    Peter, you mention “Fabian”.
    I find it handy to keep on file this speech by Bob Hawke on the 1984 centenary of the foundation of the Fabian Society. As each year passes, I find its implications and implimentation becoming more disturbing.
    Geoff S

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