It seems to be everywhere. A prevailing sense of anger from the Australian public directed at Julia Gillard. Anger over the fact that on one interpretation (ie Tony Abbott and the Liberal party in general) she “lied” about introducing a carbon tax.
On another, kinder, interpretation – she changed her mind about introducing a carbon tax.
But what I am constantly amazed at is the extent of the anger, no matter which version of events is preferred.
There is the “evidence” from the latest polls. This week’s polls place the Gillard led government at the lowest ever for a Labour government (or any government) in the popularity stakes – at only 27%. And the polls were taken before Sunday’s release of the actual details of the carbon tax.
From the ‘vox pops’ I see nightly on TV, more people are concerned about the fact Gillard had misled the population about her plans to introduce the tax, than they seem to be about the tax itself. This link shows video of Gillard being heckled in Brisbane.
I’m not going to argue either way for the Carbon tax here, that is not the point of the post. Although I guess I should declare my hand and say, while I’m not sure if it is the best option for combating climate change, I’m very happy to contribute towards something being done. I would like to see my children still have a world to live in.
But back to the point of this blog post. Which is – what I don’t quite get in all of this great public outcry against Julia Gillard is – why?
Why is there such surprise and vitriolic anger against a politician changing their mind and/or lying? Are we, the Australian public, still so naive?
Even Tony Abbott agreed on the 7pm project during the week that [words along the lines of] “Of course I’ve changed my mind. Famously I’ve changed my mind about paid parental leave and multiculturalism”.
I would add – and about climate change itself. From a believer in a carbon tax (see this YouTube clip below) to someone who in 2009 says climate change is “crap”. At least Abbott admitted politicians don’t always tell the “gospel truth”.
And what about the GST? Does anyone else remember that great “change of mind” event? Maybe it is (yet another) sign of my age, but I clearly remember John Howard in Opposition saying he would “Never, ever” introduce a GST.
Then he got elected and did a deal with the Australian Democrats to pass the GST.
According to an article I read this week, the impact of the GST on family budgets was a 30% increase in costs, which is substantially higher than the estimated effect the Carbon Tax will have.
Then there was the introduction of Workchoices by the Howard government in 1996. That little piece of legislative reform introduced more changes to Australia’s century old employment laws than had ever occurred before. And was Workchoices and the details of it mentioned in the preceding election campaign?
The answer is a resounding “No.”
I could go on for some time with this list. The children overboard crisis for example.
The Rudd government declaring climate change “the single biggest challenge of our time”. Then shelving any plans to tackle it – until forced to revive the issue due to an arranged marriage with the Greens.
But I think my point has been made.
So once again I come back to asking – why is there such anger now? Was there equal amounts at these other times and I just don’t remember them?
Or is there something else at play here? Call me a feminist or a cynic. Call me paranoid even. But I can’t help but wonder – is the response this time because the person who “lied” to us is a woman?
I hope I’m wrong. And that those images of “Ju-liar” and “ditch the bitch” placards outside Parliament House (and flanked by Tony Abbott) were just an anomaly.
Otherwise we need to take a good hard look at changing the minds of a great many Australians, not just politicians.