Allan Takes Aim Blog

Politicians and con tricks

Posted on: 22 July 2010


With an election due any tick of the clock it would be wise to remember that Australia has some great con men, for example, Peter Foster – “The Human Headline.” Others that come to mind are politicians because many who trusted their promises got disappointment and stress in return. In saying this I am adverting only to politicians post my arrival in Australia in 1969 although I have read about state and federal politicians pre that date.

Not that all politicians are con men or women. It must be said also that, due to lack of opportunity, the former outnumber the latter. Of course, as more women enter politics they might end up leaving their male colleagues trailing in their wake.

Today of course, greater numbers of women have entered parliament, but as yet in the Federal sphere, only one female member of the Labor Party, Julia Gillard, has reached the status of Prime Minister. But let it be known also, that although no Liberal female has become Prime Minister either, Julie Bishop and others are trying hard.

It could be that you might think my applying the term conman to politicians is harsh. You might be right. However, I have heard many voters describe them in terms less printable. This occurs when they remember the politicians’ promises that electing them would be the easiest way to reach the promised land of prosperity. Not until later did voters became aware of the get out phrases in the promises that said some tough economic hills stood in the way of the road to the promised land that for many turned into never-never land.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (nickname Super Kev) was a past master at making promises. He had also mastered the art of handing out dollops of “free” cash to help make the tough economic hills seem easier to climb. Unfortunately, the free cash was an illusion.

But Super Kev is not the only politician to have performed such an illusion; Chief Ministers and State Premiers also practice the art. Indeed one of the ACT Chief Minister’s illusions is the provision of allegedly “free” entertainment.  

But credit where it’s due. Super Kev must be complimented because his cons were better than those of his predecessors. He had learned also that, if your first con didn’t look like working out, try a second one that’s twice as big and likely to take twice as long, or even longer, to come to fruition, if at all.

Think of them. Take his promise that high speed broadband would be rolled out to 99% of the nation by the end of 2008. Did you believe him and sign up to a broadband service expecting you would soon be downloading movies at near the speed of light? I hope not.

However, as soon as Super Kev realised this wouldn’t happen, at a speed even faster than the speed of light he immediately promised a better high-speed broadband system, costing $43 billion, a system that, if lucky, you might get by 2016.  While this would have seemed something the Opposition could get their teeth into, unfortunately, it failed to come up with a more realistic proposal. Indeed its carping about Super Kev’s proposal seemed more like sour grapes than constructive criticism.

Another of Super Kev’s cons was his $1 billion fund that would give every senior secondary school student in years 9 to 12 access to a computer at school. Like the later broadband, it some pupils might still be waiting in 2016.  At the same time with new technology being introduced every day, apart from being late, some of the computers that will be supplied will be on the scrap heap by 2o16. Indeed in 206, rather than desk-tops or laptops, pupils, even at primary school level, are likely to be using hand devices.

Since then of course, Kevin has become a victim of his cons and been replaced by his loyal deputy Julia Gillard, who supported his proposals. While one would like to be confident that as Prime Minister, Julia won’t do the same as Kev, based on early performances it could be argued that nothing has changed and that she continues to pursue Kev’s cons

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2 Responses to "Politicians and con tricks"

“Since a politician never believes what he says, he is surprised when others believe him.” (Charles de Gaulle, quoted in Newsweek, 1962)

“A politician will do anything to keep his job – even become a patriot.” (William Randolph Hearst, editorial, 1933)

“Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be President but they don’t want them to become politicians in the process.” (John F. Kennedy, [Attribution])

“The politician is an acrobat. He keeps his balance by saying the opposite of what he does.” (Maurice Barres, Mes Cahiers, 1896-1923)

“Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even when there’s no river.” Nikita Krushchev, remark at Glen Cove, New York, 1960)

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