For a while now I’ve owned a copy of Kerry Anne Walsh’s The Stalking of Julia Gillard but have not had time to finish reading it. A few days ago I went looking to see whether she had anything to say on a particular topic, found she didn’t, but found an assertion repeated here that surprised me:
“There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead, but let me be clear: I will be putting a price on carbon and I will move to an emissions trading scheme.” (Emphasis added)
That’s on page 8, repeated on pp 19-20 where she says the second part of the sentence has been deliberately omitted, including in the mainstream political press.
This was stated as a fact. I wondered why I’d never heard it before so decided to check.
The video clip was not hard to find.
Then I found this post of 17 December 2012 by Barry Tucker who says he’s on a campaign to correct and combat “deterioration in news reporting standards and obvious bias in the newspapers of Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited, a division of News Corp, and our national broadcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.”
Tucker asserts that Abbott did the truncating. He cites two references, the second of which is is the interview with The Australian reported by Paul Kelly and Dennis Shanahan which I’ve known about and have linked to several times over the years:
In an election-eve interview with The Australian, the Prime Minister revealed she would view victory tomorrow as a mandate for a carbon price, provided the community was ready for this step.
“I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism,” she said of the next parliament. “I rule out a carbon tax.”
This is the strongest message Ms Gillard has sent about action on carbon pricing.
While any carbon price would not be triggered until after the 2013 election, Ms Gillard would have two potential legislative partners next term – the Coalition or the Greens. She would legislate the carbon price next term if sufficient consensus existed.
That is consistent with Gillard’s notion of a citizens’ assembly to deliberate on a carbon price.
Tucker’s first reference is this longer video clip from Channel Ten, which refers to the carbon tax from the 2.12 mark. I was more than a little surprised to find that the quoted words did not appear. She does talk about “leading our national debate to reach a consensus on putting a cap on carbon” which is consistent with her proposed citizens’ assembly and consistent with the position I believe she enunciated many times during the election campaign.
I believe also that the first video has been cut from the second, longer video. The alignment of her head with the building is the same, her hand movements are the same and the wisp of hair blowing in the breeze is the same. I’m not an expert on such matters, but from the visual evidence and the flow of what she said I don’t believe anything has been expunged from the longer video.
When queried in the comments thread Tucker refers to a post by Denise Allen of 17 October 2012 where the same quote appears. The post does contain a link to the speech by Tony Windsor saying that the carbon price was a condition of the formation of government and that Abbott would have acceded to the same if asked, having said he would do anything except sell his arse to become PM.
When queried in comments Allen asserts that the quote has appeared in the MSM and that the video had been altered by the Liberal Party. But no proof.
Allen offered to post proof if forthcoming from the PM’s department, but nothing has appeared as far as I can see.
Then I found this post by Kate Ahearne of 26 April 2013. The quote had altered slightly but is essentially the same:
“There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead, but lets be absolutely clear. I am determined to price carbon.”
Shane hurford asserts that the statement was made on Channel 7, later corroborated by Mick Verco, with Gillard responding to badgering from Kochie. Channel 7 was said to have asserted copyright ownership and junked the video.
Heather (@HEB2205) also thinks she saw it.
Ahearne says, ” Mystery solved. Great stuff.” I’m sorry, it isn’t. Memory is suggestible and can pick up bits from the current context. It isn’t laid down like a digital recording.
A commnenter called Crash Skeptic then appears with evidence that Gillard broke multiple promises. He/she is drummed out of the place as a denialist troll, but there isn’t a lot wrong with what he/she says apart from the reconstruction of how the words came into being which is pure speculation (see this comment).
My verdict is that we just don’t know whether Gillard uttered the words attributed to her. Nor do we know who wrote them down, whether as a transcription or a fabrication, which Andrew Bolt went on to assert.
Does all this matter?
Well, to history it does, as it’s part of the story of how Gillard was treated after she became PM.
One thing is certain – Gillard did not tell a lie. A lie is a deliberate statement of a falsehood. Those who say that Gillard lied are lying themselves, and that without challenge from the MSM.
Take for example Politifact Australia’s investigation into Abbott’s claim that Gillard broke a promise. It’s quite a good treatment of definitions of taxes and the carbon price, then comes with the verdict that what Abbott said was mostly true. In my view they asked the wrong question. I haven’t gone back to Hansard, but this report says:
Mr Abbott had asked why Ms Gillard lied to the electorate before the last election on her plans for a carbon tax.
Why doesn’t Politifact look up the quote and investigate that? It’s surely the more serious charge.
There are a couple of other thoughts coming out of this exercise. Go back to the Channel Ten video. As a coherent, articulate, passionate and authentic statement as to why people should vote for her it leaves for dead anything we got from Abbott or Rudd in three debates.
On the other hand the other two could not have come close to Rudd’s performance on Q&A, as I outlined here. That’s my humble view.
The other is that the Channel Ten questioning starts with leadershit. Which reminds us that Gillard had to put up with a hostile press, the devastating leaks, and the distractions of Mark Latham to name three. Barry Jones seems to think that the conduct of this election has reached an all time low. I’d agree that it hasn’t improved much but 2010 was about as low as it goes.
Meanwhile I think Geoff Kitney is onto something when he says that Abbott is having success passing himself off as an ‘ordinary man’. He’s had three years of free advertising from the ABC for example with almost daily set up media events, where he kicks a ball, sorts fruit, shovels dirt etc and then delivers prepared slogans to camera. Seems people are starting to trust him. He doesn’t have to con everyone, just enough swinging voters in marginal seats.