Published on July 15th, 2006 | by Hans Fruck


Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

The chicken or the fish?

The chicken or the fish?

Ah, has anyone else been schadenfreudering their arses off at the recent brouhaha between Costello and Howard?

Australian PM John Howard, Costello says – bottom lip quivering – reneged on an agreement. Said agreement was struck in 1994 and involved a peaceful transfer of leadership from Honest John to Smirking Peter after a term-and-a-half in government in exchange for Honest John’s uncontested ascension to the Liberal Party leadership to replace Alexander Downer.

Former Liberal frontbencher Ian McLachlan recently ignited the Costello v Howard knicker-twisting confrontation by confirming that he was a witness to this agreement, and that Howard did, in fact, make these promises – and therefore has broken his word. McLachlan, once a Howard supporter, has become so filled with righteous indignation by Howard reneging, and then denying that he’d ever given his word, that he’s publicly, and embarrassingly, given his version of events.

Perhaps coincidentally – but really not – the journalist at the centre of the McLachlan scoop is Glenn Milne, a noted supporter of Costello. While the issue has become front-page fodder, Costello has assumed his most Jesus-like demeanour. The story coming out now has nothing to do with HIM, you see. HE hasn’t connived with his supporters to embarrass his leader or to portray himself as a MAN OF INTEGRITY who has stoically continued to do his job despite being egregiously WRONGED.

Peter Costello isn’t embittered.

Peter Costello hasn’t worked himself into a panty-shredding rage because the schoolyard Machiavelli lied to him, or because he doesn’t have either the gonads or the power to do anything about it. Not at all.

Costello’s response to questions about the whole sad, sorry saga has been to say that his parents always told him that you had nothing to fear from telling the truth (of course, his dear old parents probably never thought Petey would become a politician). This is a rather smarmy of Peter. It’s his way of trumpeting his honesty and impugning Howard’s, without actually coming out and saying as much directly.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Petey’s problem. He doesn’t have the fibre to directly confront Howard, but he doesn’t have the fibre to shut the fuck up about it either. No, such is Costello’s sense of entitlement that he’d prefer to make a fuss but not engage in a fight. What he’s really doing, Petey, is stamping his foot and wailing ‘But you promised! It’s not fair! It’s mine. Mineminemine!’

Which is where the Schadenfreude comes in. This is a government, of which Costello has been 2IC, that has lied consistently and heinously. This is the non-core promises government, the children overboard government, the AWB government, the Iraq War government, the Keith Windschuttle government, the detention-centre government, the Guantanamo government. This is a government that deals daily in lies and glib disavowals of responsibility.

And those who prosper by lying, Petey, occasionally perish by it too. So if the Liar-in-Chief who you’ve aided and abetted over all these years was lying to you too, who wouldn’t perceive the karma in that? But next time you’re working yourself into a lather of indignation at being denied the key to the executive bathroom, perhaps you can take a couple of minutes to reflect on David Hicks, imprisoned for how many years now without a trial? Or all those interned in detention centres without proper recourse to our legal system. Maybe that might put your current situation in its proper perspective.

But I don’t want to discourage you from your newfound enthusiasm for telling truth to power. Fuck no. The more the better, I say. But is there room in all this truthtelling for the Tampa and for weapons of mass destruction as well as for your being dudded on a leadership deal?

Jeez, Petey, it would be nice.

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