It's time to tell the truth
MALCOLM Turnbull was at his mischievous best at the Woodford Folk Festival this week, calling for truth and an end to negativity in politics, eyes twinkling as he said he wouldn't name anyone but that "we all know ... can think of a few people I'm talking about".
"And I'm talking about Bob,'' the former Coalition leader said of ex-Prime Minister Bob Hawke who was in the audience. "He is not an example but he knows who I'm thinking of.
"People get corroded by hatred. That's something we should stop doing. It is self-destructive. It doesn't do your opponent any harm but it does yourself a lot of harm.
"The other thing, frankly, is that we have got to become committed to telling the truth.
"And I'm not just saying telling the truth in the sense of not saying black is white when you know black is black. People in politics throw the word "lie" around recklessly.
"Somebody who makes a false statement may or may not be telling a lie. They are only telling a lie if they know it is false.
"But what happens more often than not is people make statements reckless to whether they are true or not. All of us have to take greater care to get facts right.''
It would not be hard to read an attack on Coalition leader Tony Abbott into the statements given his published comments that you could tell his statements were the truth if he had written them down and the fact the alternative Prime Minister's popularity has plummeted after another year of negative campaigning.
But when audience members questioned him directly on the issue of Mr Abbott's rigidity and negativity, Mr Turnbull was quick to point out that voters needed to take the Coalition as a team and understand they were not electing a president.
He said Mr Abbott was the Coalition leader, not dictator or president and that he often received tougher press than he deserved.
And he argued that the Coalition was better calculated to deliver a freer, more flexible, dynamic and innovative Australia through its collective form of leadership.
"It is our job in politics to tackle the big issues and explain them and to have the honesty to say to people there are no easy solutions here,'' he said.
"We have to be prepared to treat the public with respect, to lay out those issues honestly and factually and deal with facts and not spin. That's the big challenge.''
In reference to truth in politics, he said he believed it had never been worse in Australia.