Being old enough to have been reading books when 1984 was a vision of a dystopian future, I have always been interested in the way in which aspects of the world George Orwell depicted come about.
In 1984, the all powerful Party is constantly rewriting history to suit its current circumstances. One of the most famous quotes from the book is:
“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
So it’s interesting to see the following news item of a little piece of history of being rewritten.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s own department has been forced to correct records showing a company he joint-owned with his wife Lucy had been awarded a government contract, which could have raised questions about his election eligibility.
Now this may simply be a beat-up given the fuss over ex-Senator Bob Day. It also seemed completely clear that the contract was for Lucy Turnbull and not for Malcolm. But it is worth remembering that Kevin Rudd’s wife, Thérèse Rein, sold her business, Ingeus, when her husband became Prime Minister to avoid perceived conflict of interest.
While this may have been innocent mistake, it’s a wonderful example of someone changing the historical record to their own advantage, simply because they can.
It’s not a good look. It may help if the Turnbulls could provide evidence of accounts and receipts so it is completely clear where the money was going in this particular consulting job.
And speaking of the ex-PM, Rudd is now involved in a ferocious, “he said, I said” spat with the current PM. Both men have totally different versions of exchanges between them about asylum seeker policy.
(Rudd) has branded the Turnbull account a “total reinvention of history” to “try and pretend he has had a consistent position on Manus and Nauru”, saying Mr Turnbull was not even opposition leader when the policy was dismantled. The charge came as Mr Turnbull branded Mr Rudd a “liar” in an address to his MPs.
Who do you believe?
George Orwell had an interesting view on this:
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
Rather less prosaically Coleridge called for “That willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith” when creating or reading poetry.
Now, Kevin Rudd is not the kind of man you want to take on in a public slanging match. He will come after you with both guns blazing.
“Mr Turnbull’s record on this matter is as truthful as his statements during the notorious Godwin Grech affair (also known as Utegate)” he added, in a reference to the affair that triggered a collapse in Mr Turnbull public approval when he was opposition leader in 2009. “Both rest on absolute falsehoods.”
“Utegate” was an attempt by Malcolm Turnbull and Eric Abetz to use information supplied by Grech ( fraudulently as it turned out) to discredit them PM Rudd.
Given that a bit of the past is being raked over by the perennially disgruntled Kevin Rudd, it would be good for the classically-trained Malcolm Turnbull to remember the adage about Caesar’s wife (and her husband) being above suspicion.
Caesar’s first wife Portia wasn’t up to scratch