Some time ago, Home Affairs minister, Peter Dutton, indicated that white South African farmers could be given preferred refugee status if they so desired because they needed “help from a civilised country”. Apart from being a stupid thing to say, it seemed to be based on incorrect information that South African farmers were being murdered in great numbers. According to the Africa Check fact-checking website, 74 farm murders were recorded in 2016-2017, but the race of victims was not recorded1. Unfortunately, Tony Abbott then stepped into the spotlight, as is his wont, in support of Peter Dutton. Abbott stated that “there is a very serious situation developing in South Africa. Something like 400 white farmers have been murdered, brutally murdered, over the last 12 months”2. Abbott’s claim was either designed to get him in the newspapers or on radio, or simply to get up Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s nose. The RMIT-ABC fact check unit said that his claim is baseless (i.e. a lie) and reiterated the statistics (i.e. 74) related above. However, it noted that this was in the year to march 2017, and that it included farmers, workers, families and visitors of all races2.
While lying is part of Abbott’s modus operandi3, it now seems to have spread to other members of the government as an indication of their desperation as the government’s 30th losing Newspoll approaches (provided Rupert Murdoch doesn’t put the fix in). The laughably anachronistic Liberal MP Craig Kelly is a member of the inaptly named Monash Forum4;. a forum created in part to support the coal industry. As part of this aim, Kelly has stated that there are almost 600 High Efficiency Low Emission (HELE) coal power stations under construction worldwide, totalling some 650 Gigawatts (Gw) of power. This is a lie. There are 142 under construction worldwide totalling 167.5 Gw5, less than one quarter of those asserted by Kelly. Just as an indication of how far wide of the mark Kelly is, three of the biggest manufacturers of fossil-fuel-fired power plants; Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Siemens and General Electric together are laying off 18,000 workers6. Perhaps symptomatic of the problem is the following: “Eight central banks and financial institutions from countries including France, China and the U.K. are teaming up to study financial risks related to greenhouse gas emissions. In light of this funding crunch, around 80% of plans for new coal fired power plants in India – 533 gigawatts in all – have been halted of cancelled”6.
Why these people make statements that are easily shown to be lies is, I suspect, because they have seen the ludicrously incompetent Donald Trump lie through his teeth with at least a proportion of the population believing him. It is this gullible demographic to which liars like Abbott and Kelly appeal, and those are the people who deserted the Coalition and have in part voted for One Nation. They are attempting to increase their reach with partial defunding and the dumbing down of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation under the leadership of Michelle Guthrie and extraordinary support from Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. We allow these liars in government to get away with such idiotic lies at our peril.