The news of yet another broken promise from the Howard government is notable only for the degree of inflation we’ve seen in these things.
Asked in September last year if the Howard Government was giving a “cast iron” commitment that bills would be rebatable at $300 or $700 after the election, Mr Abbott replied: “That is an absolutely rock solid, iron-clad commitment.”
It’s hard to see how you could get more emphatic than that, and while the government as a whole has long since lost credibility, Abbott had something of a reputation as a straight-talker.
Most politicians lie occasionally and nearly all governments break (or fail to fulfil) some promises, but the Howard government goes well beyond anything in Australian experience. Whatever successes he may achieve, the debasement of the coinage of public honesty is something Howard will never live down.
The result of all this is, I think, a government that can hold on to office as long as it keeps on bringing home the economic bacon, but one that will never earn really strong public support and will leave a poisoned legacy for the Liberal Party in the long run.
fn1. Of course, breaking the promise was not his idea, but if he’d been willing to put his job on the line he could no doubt have faced Costello down.