REAL AUSTRALIA

Lies, more lies and damned questions

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by ACM digital news editor Janine Graham.

When in doubt: Don't open your mouth. Or lie, of course. Photo: Shutterstock

When in doubt: Don't open your mouth. Or lie, of course. Photo: Shutterstock

How did it get to this?

There are some things you come to expect - beer strikes in the lead-up to Christmas, petrol price rises before the weekend or holidays, even rain (remember that stuff?) when you go camping ...

But now, it seems, the single constant is chaos.

Look towards the UK and there's Boris Johnson; glance the other way and there's Donald Trump.

They are performing some sort of badly-coiffed, middle-aged Caucasian man pincer movement on us. The parallels are uncanny.

Both are facing political challenges of Biblical proportions

Johnson has Brexit on his plate - and what a moveable feast it is. Having sacked 21 of his own MPs and losing his majority in the House of Commons, a general election might be on the cards. Or it might not.

Johnson carries the dubious honour of being called out by President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale.

The court ruled the PM incorrectly prorogued parliament: "The Prime Minister's advice to her Majesty was unlawful, void and of no effect".

In short, he lied.

Barely a day later US Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the House of Representatives was going ahead with a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump. As the Democrats control the House, impeachment is likely a case of when not if.

Mr Trump's economy with the truth is well-documented. Twice he has won PolitiFact's Lie of the Year Award.

His mouth might look like it's open: But no real answers were forthcoming from Mathias Cormann at Senate Estimates this week. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

His mouth might look like it's open: But no real answers were forthcoming from Mathias Cormann at Senate Estimates this week. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

And somewhere in between those two "world leaders" you will find Canberra.

It was there earlier this week that senior suits and minister Mathias Cormann took more than 100 questions on notice.

No-one could answer whether Australia suggested any guests for Scott Morrison's White House dinner in line with normal practice; what, if any, briefings the prime minister was given on the drought while he travelled; or how Barnaby Joyce reported while he was a special envoy on drought.

Odd. No-one knew.

Let Newcastle Herald reporter Joanne McCarthy explain why Mr Morrison's potential White House guest list is of such interest.

But be assured that's more than you're likely to get should you lodge Freedom of Information request. Reviews are taking more than a year and some aren't even being allocated because the government hasn't funded the oversight agency appropriately.

That agency, The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, has received an 80 per cent increase in applications for review of FOI decisions over the past four years.

So don't think for a moment people aren't asking questions. They are. Sometimes they're not being answered. Other times, they're just not being answered truthfully.

Janine Graham

ACM digital news editor

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