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February 9, 2004

Federal Parliament starts tomorrow after the summer break. Just a few days of heat and action to help boost the election campaign that is now rolling along.

The Canberra Press Galley must be rubbing their hands with glee with the return of Parliament. Fireworks have been promised. The Liberal Party is promising to finish Latham's honeymoon with a king hit from an all out government attack. Latham will be a moving target. So the Press Gallery will have plenty of copy as they analyze the political game that wil be played out around free trade.

There is some important legislation due to be introduced----most notably Tony Abbott's Medicare reform package that is all about providing a bit of safety net for the deserving poor. Abbott is going to make a last-ditch effort to get the government's Medicare safety-net legislation through the Senate after negotiations with the Australian Democrats broke down. His credibility hangs on getting a win.

It is not just about doctors. Somehow we have forgotten about the allied health care professionals, such as dentists, podiatrists, physiotherapists and dietiticians. Why not us this opportunity to shift away from the doctor/drug model of primary health care? It is a very limited model.

As the Senate picks up from where it left off, Costello is talking about using the budget surplus (projected to be around $3.2 billion) to provide tax cuts to pre-empt the need for increased spending on public services and infrastucture. That move is designed to cut the ground from under the feet of the ALP.

Negotiations are well underway on the Howard Government's Medicare Plus package. It would seem whilst Minister Abbott is denouncing wishlists and ruling out price controls on specialist prices he is giving some ground. The package is slowly being made fairer.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:37 PM | | Comments (0)