Respected journalist Paul Bongiorno had a go online at Finance Minister Mathias Cormann for his consistent lying, saying that if you are going to lie, make it a big one. This comes from a quote by Hitler’s minister for propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, who said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”1
It almost goes without saying that Cormann spat the dummy, and said: “Are you for real! I speak with a German accent, so you accuse me of being a Nazi? You are absolutely despicable Paul Bongiorno. You clearly do not know what you are talking about. This is a disgrace and you should apologise.”2 This was simply a way for Cormann to deflect attention from his constant lying.
Unfortunately, after the outraged Tweet from Cormann, Bongiorno deleted the tweet and apologised with: “I have apologised because I meant no offence. The pile on from government ministers [is] ample proof that they know they egregiously abused state power and taxpayers’ funds for their own self interested political survival. The Auditor General so found- asserting otherwise is dishonest.”3 To my cynical mind, to apologise was a mistake. I would have simply gone on the attack and noted, as Bongiorno did, the constant lying by Cormann and numerous other ministers and backbenchers. However, I don’t depend on journalism for my livelihood, so it is perhaps understandable that Bongiorno backed off a little. This, from Bongiorno, was a cue for a pile-on by other Liberal hypocrites. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was one of the first to pile on. He said: “Invoking Goebbels, one of Hitler’s key henchmen, to attack my colleague Mathias Cormann is appalling, Paul Bongiorno. It shows a lack of sensitivity & understanding of history’s darkest period. You should immediately apologise.”4 Defence Minister Linda Reynolds also piled on, in reply to Bongiorno’s apology, with: “No Paul Bongiorno we spoke up because your despicable comments were vile, racist and completely unacceptable – anywhere any time. There is only one interpretation. Shame on you.”5
The hypocrisy of Cormann’s and others’ responses is demonstrated by the fact that when Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, called then Opposition Leader Bill Shorten the “Dr Goebbels of economic policy”, Cormann said nothing. Abbott immediately withdrew the comment and Jewish shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, was suspended from parliament by the worst speaker in living memory, Bronwyn ‘chopper’ Bishop6. Even worse, after Fraser Anning gave his notorious ‘Final Solution’ speech in the Senate, even Pauline Hanson disowned him, stating that it was “straight from Goebbels’ handbook from Nazi Germany”7; this was for Anning’s promotion of a discriminatory immigration policy. Surprising as it sounds, there are some lines even Hanson will not cross. This was not the case for many Coalition senators. Cormann was one of the senior coalition senators who went up to Anning and congratulated him, by shaking his hand. Others were: then Minister Bridget McKenzie, then Minister Nigel Scullion, then Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, then Minister Matt Canavan, then Assistant Minister James McGrath, and then Assistant Minister Anne Ruston. It was only after people pointed out the appalling association of the phrase ‘final solution’, that this may have not been a good thing to do, that members of the House of Representatives came out and condemned Anning’s speech. On top of this stupidity, the Coalition voted for a motion in the Senate. This motion, stated that:
- The deplorable rise of anti-white racism and attacks on Western civilisation
- That it is OK to be white8
After suitable opprobrium was heaped on them from assorted sources, noting that the latter part of the motion came from the Ku Klux Klan, the Coalition realised the error they had made, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison had to apologise for the debacle9.
Last of all, the reaction by Cormann and others is rich, coming from a political party which brings out the dog whistle at every opportunity. This is a tactic used by the Coalition ever since the days of Howard. As Paul Keating put it: “I think it’s a Prime Minister’s duty; one of the primary duties of a Prime Minister is to protect the country from prejudice. Howard was happy to let the racism virus out. And it’s like a flu virus, you never get it back. You know, when someone at the top of the system…you see Bob before me, Malcolm Fraser before him, Gough Whitlam, John Gorton – none of us would play around with this issue. None. The only one to do it was a little guy from Bennelong.”10 It certainly continued during the Abbott hilarity, as well as under Turnbull’s and Morrison’s prime ministerships.11,12,13 The confected outrage by these vacuous hypocrites turns my stomach and makes me wonder how this country has sunk so low. That government ministers, in an attempt to obscure their lies, whine about a relatively innocuous and true statement, disingenuously pretending it was akin to the techniques of bigotry that they use all the time, is sickening.