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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

a new political wind blows « Previous | |Next »
October 8, 2003

Cartoon9.jpg One achilles heel of the Howard Government is its attempts to undermine the public health system through a drip feed. Why spend good money on something that is bad?

Clearly, self-reliance was the way to go. The democratic mass needed to be toughened up. They had been sucking on the welfare tit for far too long and had gotten used to it. What was needed was to reduce bulkbilling to only the deserving poor, and then use the money to subsidize, and prop up, the private health funds.

The politics was to keep just enough blood flowing to the public heel via the old drip feed to prevent gangrene and keep the system on its feet. That would keep the masses quiet long enough to retain power. Hopefully, the private health system would grow in a globalized world with massive corporate welfare. Gee, maybe even the American corporations would take things over. Why, a free trade agreement would help to keep the health reforms ticking along.

The proposed reforms to public health had no chance of getting through the Senate in their current form. The Senators understood that more money was needed to be pumped into Medicare, and that a higher Medicare rebate was needed for doctors to encourage them to bulk bill. Equity in health care still meant something in the Senate: it meant a just health care system, one in which all people have the right to be treated equally by government policy and financial assistance schemes.

In the process of holding the pro-market, anti-governmental line the Howard Government has taken a PR hit-----big time. It was seen to actively creating a two-tier health insurance system, with bulk-billing retained only as a safety net for the poorest Australians. Despite the rhetoric of creating ‘a fairer Medicare’, whilst restricting access to health care (with financial barriers for a significant proportion of the Australian population) the Howard Government was seen to be politically opposed to a public system of universal cover for sickness. The future was a going back to the philosophical principles of the pre-Whitlam health care system.

Are we are now seeing a change in tack? Just like we did in early 1991 first half of 2001 when a spooked Government went on an expensive exercise in vote buying. In late 1993 in steps Tony Abbott, the new man from the Government with a conciliatory tone, a big smile and buckets of cash to save the day. The new Liberal hero and future Liberal PM.

I reckon we are seeing a change of political tack. A new political wind is blowing. Health is a crucial issue in the forthcoming federal election.

Michelle Grattan thinks so too. Don't you love the image. Tony Abbott as the pest control man knocking off the democratic voices. That's political conservatism for you: govern through the free market and keep squeezing democracy to ensure that citizens are passive outside elections.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:53 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)

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» Mix those metaphors! from Evil pundit of doom!
Gary Sauer-Thompson begins a post thus: One achilles heel of the Howard Government is its attempts to undermine the public health system through a drip feed. How do you undermine something through a drip-feed on the heel? The thought processes... [Read More]