September 01, 2006
So the ALP is finally undertaking a policy review--ten years after being in opposition. Apparently it is getting rid of the last vestiges of its old left thinking, much of which dated from the 1970s. Beazley says that its new big theme is that it wants to fight on industrial relations and we want to fight on a nation-building agenda. They want to talk about Howard's 10 squandered years. Lindsay Tanner has a slightly different story - the theme that's emerging is that it's about what sort of society we are building for our kids.
What does that mean?
Julia Gillard gives some indication in the Annual Earle Page Politics College Lecture at the University of New England. Michelle Grattan in The Age interprets the ALP['s big health idea-- a radical reform --as dramatically extend Canberra's power over public hospitals which are run by the states. So how does that break with the 1970s and Whitlamesque centralism? Shouldn't the long-term reform shift be to an increased focus on primary health care?
Grattan says that the ALP 's "big bang" reform embraces the Podger single funder model. In this model:
the Federal Government would (1) lay down health policy objectives (2) set the conditions within which health care services would be purchased and provided and (3) establish the framework for reporting on performance. While policymaking would be national, administration would be at a regional level.
Why centralization when thre can be better co-operation between the commonwealtrh and the states?