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health debate: #2 « Previous | |Next »
March 11, 2010

As noted in an earlier post, the health reform debate in Australia takes place behind a closed shop and it needs to be bought out into the public sphere. Arthur Sinodinos in his King Kong health plan threatens the PM in The Australian says that:

Health and hospitals policy is Kevin Rudd's King Kong and it could cause him as much damage as Kong did to the Empire State Building... These complex health changes will be a slow burn politically. The electorate has at least six months to pore over them and uncover any defects. The dearth of new money up-front will not help the medicine go down. When does the system start to improve? Paradise postponed yet again.

He contrasts this scenario with the good things the Howard Government did for health ---adding significantly to Medicare, particularly through its extension of the safety net--- and rescuing private health insurance. Sinodinos is contesting the view that health is Labor's home ground.

Subsidizing private health insurance is a classic example of the neo-liberal policy of the diverting of public funds to private industry, but Sinodinos talks in terms of "choice". Patrick Brownlee in Politics is a messyanic business in the Australian Review of Public Affairs digs beneath "choice" between public and private sectors. He says that subsidisation of private health (and education) should be recognised as part of the desiccation of the social contract that is transforming a collectivist to an individual incentive model of service delivery and created or pandered to a faux middle class sensibility.

Brownlee adds that:

The privatisation of education and health are dear to a neoliberal heart, where quality service is provided to those who have; while the idea that funds be collectively held and distributed by government for any such service causes at least mild reflux in your average neoliberal stomach.

Neoliberalism is a political ideology which extends market relations into social, economic and political spheres and it represents governance through the market.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:53 AM | | Comments (2)


Re your comment "Sinodinos is contesting the view that health is Labor's home ground" .

Federally, Labor invented Medicare and it is so popular that the conservatives have never quite found the politically courage to dismantle it. Most voters have consistently regarded the ALP as being better than the conservatives on health.

All that Abbott has at this stage is his local board concept but nothing on the broad architecture. The health issue is working for Rudd not against him.

Rudd is playing a strange game given all the recent talk about co-operative federalism. He has not missed an opportunity to criticize the state premiers and their health departments over the hospital reform package.

He is seeking conflict with the states (eg., Victoria) not easing it.