The slippery slope of officially sanctioned lying

Public administration Political campaigns Election campaigns Public trust Political parties Australia

Being caught lying has consequences for most of us, ranging from a stern rebuke to a spell in jail. But not for those engaged in politics, where people can fib away not only with impunity but with an official imprimatur.

In the 2016 election, Labor invented the scary claim that a Turnbull government would privatise Medicare. There was no such plan in the Coalition’s top or even bottom drawer, if for no other reason than that such a move would be political suicide. Though it is impossible to prove what role it played, Mediscare is now generally believed to have been a major factor in pushing the Turnbull government to the brink of defeat.

Payback came in this year’s election, with lies from the Coalition and other anti-Labor groups about Labor’s “death taxes,” “car taxes” and unlikely plan to confiscate tradies’ utes apparently contributing to Scott Morrison’s miracle election win. If lying so blatantly pays so well, then an escalating arms race becomes inevitable. And the consequences beyond the next election? What little trust we have left in democratic politics could easily go down the gurgler.

Read the full article on Inside Story.

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