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Government pounces on Abbott's gospel gaffe -

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LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: It's been a day of damage control for the Opposition Leader after last
night's frank admission on the 7:30 Report.

Tony Abbott's been pilloried by the Government for saying that only his carefully-scripted remarks
should be taken as gospel truth.

Mr Abbott says he was just trying to be fair dinkum and in his defence he points to the broken
promises of the Prime Minister. But it's political misstep that's sure to feature heavily in the
election campaign.

Political reporter Hayden Cooper.

HAYDEN COOPER, REPORTER: The hard hat, goggles and vest came in handy. For even Tony Abbott
acknowledges the post-gaff flak is getting heavy.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: This is just the Labor Party playing the politics of personal
destruction.

HAYDEN COOPER: This was the moment that it began: his effort to explain a broken promise.

TONY ABBOTT (7.30 Report): The statements that need to be taken absolutely as gospel truth is those
carefully-prepared scripted remarks.

HAYDEN COOPER: Cue the instant response from a Government desperate to halt the Opposition Leader's
rise.

JULIA GILLARD, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: The problem for Australians here of course is they'll never
know when Mr Abbott is walking towards microphones and making a statement whether who's turned up
is Gospel Tony, who's telling the truth, or Phony Tony, who lies all the time.

HAYDEN COOPER: Mr Abbott is trying to explain.

TONY ABBOTT: Yeah, look, I try to be fair dinkum with the Australian public. I really do try to be
fair dinkum. And last night I was trynna be fair dinkum with Kerry O'Brien.

HAYDEN COOPER: It's not the first time Tony Abbott's been caught out during live interviews.
Remember this moment from 2004:

TONY JONES, JOURNALIST (Lateline, 2004): Have you met Archbishop Pell during the election campaign?

TONY ABBOTT: Not that I can recall.

TONY JONES: Not that you can recall, because we believe that you've had at least one meeting with
him quite recently.

TONY ABBOTT: Well, when? Where?

TONY JONES: You don't recall that? At the Presbytery in Sydney.

TONY ABBOTT: Actually, now that you mention it, I did meet with Cardinal Pell. So what?

HAYDEN COOPER: This time around it's a distraction he doesn't need and one the Government does to
take the focus off its own backflips.

GREG HUNT, LIBERAL PARTY: Tony Abbott is authentic and genuine. The Prime Minister is a genuine
fake.

HAYDEN COOPER: The Labor Party will ride this admission for all it's worth, but the Prime Minister
is conspicuous by his absence.

He's staying out of it for two reasons: firstly, to appear above the fray; secondly, there's the
matter of glass houses. This is the dossier thrown together and distributed by the Liberal Party,
full of what it claims to be Kevin Rudd's broken promises.

HAYDEN COOPER: Mr Abbott's not letting the matter sway him from his anti-mining tax crusade, but in
the Treasury Secretary, he's met some stiff resistance.

KEN HENRY, TREASURY SECRETARY: There's a very sound public policy case for making sure that this
tax, however we tax resources, is designed in such a way that it's not the taxpayer who ends up
being the mug.

HAYDEN COOPER: As the author of the new tax, Ken Henry has entered the political fray to reject the
Coalition line. And he takes an optimistic view about the future.

KEN HENRY: We have at least reasonable grounds for believing that strong world demand for
Australian commodities and high terms of trade will be sustained for some time.

HAYDEN COOPER: For its part, the Reserve Bank is confident it's done enough to manage the impact of
a rebounding economy. Minutes from its last meeting show that with the latest rise, it now believes
interest rates are, "well placed for the present".

Economists interpret that as a sign of a pause for at least a few months - more welcome news for
the Government.

Hayden Cooper, Lateline.