May 03, 2004
the tide keeps flowing out
Milne has been on the road with the Mark Latham caravan attending oldstyle public meetings for three days. What has he learned? He says that:
"The most striking thing about these meetings was the dis-connect between what the media and politicians see as the national political agenda and the concerns expressed in these windy public halls."
At the time the media ws concerned with the war in Iraq, national security and media political links. Milne says that is not what the people attending the meetings wanted to talk about. They wanted to talk about domestic issues:
... 'and they included the corrosive insecurity of modern life and its effect on the coming generation, the poor health of indigenous Australians, deceit and honesty in government, the GST, increases in fire levies, mental health services, wages safety nets, water storage, Telstra, public education, nursing homes, regional roads and the need for services rather than tax cuts.
These are the preoccupations of ordinary folk. And it was clear from these meetings they did not think Howard was talking much about them. Latham, by contrast, is getting marks for simply being there to hear what one man called these people's "cries for help".'
This indicates that there is a quiet process of de-linking happening between the conservative Howard Government and the battlers.
I cannot see the Costello budget addressing these issues directly, since it will be more focused on tax cuts than providing for well-funded health and education services. The Howard Government is committed to undercutting the legs of social democracy by creating a private health and educational system. The favour the solution supported by business and free-marketeers: creating a market to get private businesses to a provide health and education services and allow them to make a good profit. Yet the public don't want privatised health care.
Milne says those three days on the road gave him a chance to sniff the breeze. He says that "it didn't smell good for the Government."
Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 3, 2004 09:45 AM
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