Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Can the Liberals change on health?

*Pic: of Malcolm Turnbull by Bob Burton.

Well, at least he said it. Three days after a dismal election result, Malcolm Turnbull, faux-contrite, finally admitted that his party’s record on health might have had something to do with the result.

‘We have to recognise that a material number of Australians were sufficiently concerned about our commitment to Medicare that they changed their vote.’ he said. ‘And that is, that’s something, you know, we need to address.’

And that was it. None of his ministers were prepared to accept that actual policy, rather than Labor’s ‘Mediscare’, had anything to do with their defeat. Peter Dutton, the former health minister who was behind the disastrous $7 co-payment, dodged questions on the issue. Julie Bishop , far from offering any word of contrition, said the Coalition should have been more negative.

Scott Morrison, who more than anyone must bear responsibility for the result, continued his familiar one-note tune as if no election had intervened. He was prepared to accept that Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey made some mistakes, but not him. Not his own refusal to reverse previous cuts, not his own decision to continue the Medicare rebate freeze for another four years.

If they are able to form government, Morrison told AM, the Coalition will stick with its current approach to health. ‘We can’t have the health system being a money pit where the argument is just about how much money you throw down the hole. The system has to be effective and it has to be efficient.’

No mea culpa there.

Eric Abetz blamed GetUp.

Nobody in the government accepts the basic reality of health economics: that when governments stop paying for health care, those costs do not magically cease to exist. They are instead transferred to individuals who have to foot the bill themselves whether they can or not, through insurance premiums or out of their pockets. And because the government has much more market power than any individual or any insurer, we inevitably end up paying more for a privatised system that’s much less efficient and much less fair.

In Tasmania, the electoral price paid for the Liberals’ long-standing approach to health policy has been uniquely high. The state party now has no members in the house in which governments are made.

Will Hodgman says his federal colleagues, though not himself, have lessons to learn from the result. His own government’s health and education policies, he apparently believes, are going swimmingly.

‘I think the biggest take-out was that clearly issues of health and education are critical to Tasmanians,’ he said. ‘We have issues here in Tasmania that we are tacking head-on. We are investing more, and reforming a system that has not worked well.’

There was no acknowledgement that he has cut real hospital funding in three successive budgets, or that by the end of the current forward estimates, long-term hospital costs will exceed funding by 30%. No acknowledgement of the rolling crises and regular scandals. No acknowledgement that the state’s doctors, nurses and patients may have a point when they say his government’s budget-cutting is having disastrous results.

If the Liberals really did reverse their long-standing discomfort with universal health care, the nation and the party would be far better off. There is no doubt about what the majority of voters want. And if the conservatives’ historical attitude does not change fundamentally and convincingly, winning elections will continue to be more difficult than it needs to be.

The problem, though, is that universal health care ‒ the right of all citizens to hospital and other health services ‒ strikes at the heart of conservative views on what governments are for.

That view is based on the supremacy of free markets as the only reliable way of distributing wealth, and the notion that governments are invariably less efficient than private enterprise. That has been the essence of classical and liberal economics for three hundred years.

Its weakness is that it tends to ignore the instances in which markets fail to be either efficient or fair. And it transcends any split within the Liberal Party between ‘moderates’ and ‘conservatives’. Those differences are about power and social attitudes, not about economics or the role of government.

The rhetoric may change, as it has before. But the Liberal Party is prevented by its core beliefs from giving the Australian public the kind of health system they have been demanding for the past seventy years.

*Martyn Goddard is a Hobart-based policy analyst specialising in health issues. He is a former journalist and ABC documentary maker who became involved in health policy during the AIDS crisis in Sydney. Since then he has been a member of the main Commonwealth advisory bodies on AIDS and hepatitis and was the first consumer member of the committee that lists drugs on the PBS. He was also health policy officer for the Australian Consumers’ Association. For the past decade he has concentrated on examining and explaining Tasmania’s health issues.

Crikey: Pssst, Abetz: GetUp is not a charity, does not care what you think GetUp donation’s aren’t tax-deductible, so you’ll have to try harder, Senator.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. TV Resident

    July 19, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    No. 27…I don’t believe that they were totally lying, as I believe that the liberals have been trying to get rid of Medicare by stealth. First they want to introduce a ‘co-payment’,this was refused in the senate, then they keep a freeze on Medicare payments to Medical practitioners to force ‘co-payments’ and lastly ,so far, they were wanting to find a ‘private’ operator to deal with claims etc. If this is not just slowly undermining Medicare, I don’t know what you would call it.

  2. Len

    July 18, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    We can find sin and deviation in all human institutions man but that is a far cry from the subject of a Democratic Election. Nor do the wrongs of any human association justify the actions in another in anyway whatsoever. There is a flip side to religion and it is not all bad. All mendacity and dishonourable conduct should be condemned and prosecuted. The Labor Party should have publically disassociated themselves from the mendacity of the Medicare lies but they were of course, part authors oft the mendacity.

  3. TV Resident

    July 18, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    No 25…If you are honest with yourself, you would admit that churches and their ‘airy fairy’ beliefs are lying all the time. The church do-gooders suck vulnerable people in by playing on the vulnerables weaknesses. Also just take note of the ongoing ‘Royal Commission’ into child abuse and the coverups that have gone on for decades. I would not want my children engulfed in this type of propaganda nor believing that the people within the running of the varying churches are untouchable and that the filth that they inflict on innocent children is ‘God’s will’.

  4. Len

    July 18, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    To 22. There is a vast difference. The church issued a publication and were who they claimed to be . Getup did not identify themselves but claimed to be a known and established authority. The Church may have been right or wrong according to one’s opinion, but Getup lied to corrupt public opinion.

  5. John Hawkins

    July 17, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    The largest financial political promise to Tasmania over the pre election period was the $150 million to UTAS to pay for a new campus at Inveresk.

    This was no more and no less than a straight out bribe.

    A bribe initiated by Federal and State Labour for reasons of political expediency. Later after considered thought and much hand wringing this bribe was matched by Nikolic and the Tasmanian Liberals.

    Why would anyone fund the removal of an existing perfectly good University campus some 4 miles down the road to a new site?

    This high stakes bribe is straight out of Alice in Wonderland.

    The Liberals have won the election now they must play the part of the Mad Hatter and honour their pledge and set in stone their promise.

    At the end of the month Scruffy will be taking down her advertisement on Tasmanian Times and has agreed that it should be replaced by an image of Nikolic the vanquished Liberal all Tasmanian hard man spruiking a new University campus.

    The advertisement will remain until the money is paid and the Campus built.

    If the money is never paid it will prove that these lying bastards are, as we all knew, totally and utterly dishonest.

    Nikolic, try to remember that the pledge was the word of an officer and a gentleman, it is therefore considered his bond.

    The University must now take steps to appoint you to its Board and you should accept gracefully to follow up the promise you made in good faith on behalf of your party which is now in Government.

    The siting of a new campus at Inveresk is a bad idea for one day with climate change the site is certain to be flooded.

    It will however be a monument to the vision splendid created by corrupt political parties who bought our votes to get elected.

    “Jobs and Growth” in Tasmania will then have seen $150 million pissed up against the wall by our political masters.

    Nikolic a deal is a deal.

    The proposed new University campus in Tasmania needs you!

  6. TV Resident

    July 17, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    22…No, but they did letterbox their propaganda, which to me is really no different.

  7. Len

    July 17, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Yes, If they lied, but they did not telephone elderly people to distort their vote in a direct attack.

  8. TV Resident

    July 17, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Simon Warriner…I have to agree 100%…Most of the people running for politics on all three levels, we know nothing about. On the state and federal levels we are compelled to vote for these ‘unknowns’ whereas closer to home on the council elections we are not compelled to vote, but they are still ‘unknowns.

    No. 16….Should the churches have been prosecuted for their lying, judgmental literature from the last election???? The same should apply in my opinion.

  9. Simon Warriner

    July 17, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    re 17, What I would prefer is that all candidates be equally funded, and that that funding come with the requirement that they all be equally required to answer questions from the electorate about who they are, what the would bring to their role and how they would perform that roll. If that got rid of the election advertising I doubt I would be the only one thinking it was a good thing. And no, I won’t be offering proof of that.

  10. Len

    July 17, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Without some funding – and yes perhaps it should only be through parliament – many of us would never get to know our so called representatives.
    We ought to be more concerned about the money spent on Leader and Ministerial travel prior and post elections. The post situation serves little purpose.
    We get to know what they are doing through modern technology and if the local member cannot electioneer his/her self perhaps they should not be standing at all.
    Bill Shorten had nothing to crow about in his performance and fly all over Australia to say whatever he had to say was unnecessary and a wicked waste of our money. Wait for them to tell us that they cannot afford to fund pensions, health and education etc., as soon as parliament sits again.

  11. Len

    July 17, 2016 at 9:11 am

    One fears that without some external funding many would not get to know anything whatsoever about their parliamentary representatives. It could be cut down to a lower sum per candidate.
    Ought we to be more concerned about the cost of the National travel prior to each election by the Leaders. Ministers and hangers on? Even more so about the cost of the post elections “thank you tours” that serve no real purpose whatsoever. These amount to more than a helicopter flight to Geelong by a former Speaker but we seem to be unconcerned about these costs. The thing seems to be that they treat our money as their money thinking that they have a right to spend it as they see fit whilst telling us that government cannot afford to fund pensions and education etc.

  12. TGC

    July 16, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    #14 “Ban political donations and the quality of politics would improve dramatically” Is there compelling- even casual- evidence to support this?
    And would #14 advocate that candidates only self- fund their campaigns?
    Could there be some ‘problems’ with this?

  13. len langan

    July 13, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Does anyone feel that Get up should be prosecuted for interfering with an election?

  14. Len

    July 11, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Simon, One feels that almost everyone understands the defects in the Westminster Democracy system. Was it Churchill who said that Democracy was a very bad system but no one had invented a better one? Sadly once you get a few Independents they club together anyway forming a mini party who block the passage of promising legislation along with the questionable. It seems we are stock with the Party system and that it is up to us as individuals to “keep the bastards honest”. The biggest enemy of government is social apathy. We complain to the air but rarely to our politicians.
    The Pensioner vote is climbing rapidly in our aging society and that might shake a few rotten apples out of the parliamentary tree in the not too distant future.

  15. Simon Warriner

    July 11, 2016 at 12:08 am

    re 13, Len, all political parties operate on the same great big lie.

    That lie is this: The people they stand as candidates are here to represent the constituents of the electorate.

    The truth is that those candidates will, if elected, represent the party and the interests of those whose money the party has taken in order to get elected, first and foremost. If the constituents get representation it will be because it coincides with sponsor interests or is is no threat to those same interests.

    All the other lies told are derivative of that original lie, and Liberal are just as guilty as Labor.

    Ban political donations and the quality of politics would improve dramatically.

  16. Len

    July 10, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    How about a Prime Minister who lied her way into office with the forever infamous “no carbon tax” mendacity? Pots should not call kettles black.
    The vision of the Lib/Coalition was too much for many. Looking at the end of the educational train ride was too taxing. We can today pay for more than we can afford leaving our children with the debts. The Labor way! What happens at the other end of the line with hundreds of well educated children queuing up for jobs that are not there. Governments must spend our money as an investment. As for overseas investments so what? As long as they pay tax due in Australia on their income, and I know for a fact that Malcolm Turnbull does just that, it is to our commonwealth advantage. The tax incentives offered to companies on a
    progressive basis over many years – which until very recently was also a Labor policy and proposal – was forward thinking. Most people are in business to grow. Labor’s mendacity about Medicare was a greater lie than any ever told by any Liberal in our history. They knew it was not true. Class warfare is a thing of the past.

  17. TV Resident

    July 10, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    Len Langdon…I would put my trust in Bill Shorten before I would put my trust in anyone like, ie the coalition, who are quite experienced at lying to constituents and favouring their wealthy mates over the general public at pretty much every election that I remember. The PM is ‘money smart’, granted, but why the Cayman Islands?? Isn’t investing in Australia good enough for the ‘mega rich’??? The wealthy just want to bloat their own finances and that of their mates while the rest of us plebs are really not important at all unless it is election time, hence the ‘pork barrelling’ which often amounts to nothing.

  18. len langan

    July 9, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Well, it is perhaps time to face the fact that the Tasmanian Electorate has a rather peculiar “left” inclination;regardless of the fact that it has rarely done them any good.
    The secret of the National rise in the Labor vote at the last Federal Election was indicative of the fact that most of our Politicians are seemingly untrustworthy and held in very low esteem.
    We must also acknowledge that Labor played a dirty game. Up to their usual mendacious tricks one might say; endorsing a known lie about Medicare and allowing other dubious entities to spread the lie with contradiction. Entities that ought to be prosecuted for interfering in an election.
    The question we had to face was:- Would we like to place our personal and National fortunes into the hand of an experienced and successful merchant banker backed by a team of experienced business people or, as a very unattractive choice, into the hand of an over-promoted Union Shop Steward backed by a team with a disastrous fiscal record? It was an easy choice one might think, but, no our electoral gullibility almost won the day. It is a tale of woe and we will not enjoy paying for our collective bad judgement.

  19. TGC

    July 7, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    #9 Quite right- that first ‘c’ should have been ‘k’
    but the ‘x’ is fine
    Had to drop te spell-checker- kept insisting on Labour and – showing it’s inclination to the Left- ‘Lieberal’

  20. Artemisia

    July 7, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    #5 Yes – please – give us ALL the “cpacity to xomprehend”. Or at least to know where the spell-checker is!

  21. phill Parsons

    July 7, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Remember medicare is paid for by taxpayers as a percentage part of the tax take. That take has not fallen.

    It is not the property of the Institute of Public Affairs to slash and cut on some ideological crusade as their warriors in the Lieberal Party have been doing.

  22. Ian M

    July 7, 2016 at 11:30 am

    #6 I was referring to the future of a prosperous country, not someone’s political future.

    The Libs only have to keep spending on tax cuts for key targets to keep themselves in power. It may help those targets prosper, but it won’t make the country any better.

  23. TGC

    July 7, 2016 at 12:10 am

    #3 “…there’s no long term future in simply purchasing votes”. as Bill Shorten has just discovered- and it’s made him an electoral loser
    As another looser once remarked- “This kind of reckless spending has to stop”
    (Thanks #4

  24. TGC

    July 6, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    #2 But first of all- give me the cpacity to xomprehend what I am reading.

  25. Artemisia

    July 6, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Jeepers, Trevor (#1) What do you know that the rest of us great unwashed don’t? I thought they were still counting votes and there was no clear “winner” as yet. BTW, it’s “loser” not “looser” which actually means not as tight.

  26. Chris

    July 6, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Lets build a submarine or two and the casualties can be looked after in our adequate health system.

    Submarines are paid by the public via taxes?

    Health is paid by taxpayers.

    Submarines are undermanned, how can we increase their crews….I know pay the at inflated rates via the taxpayer.

    How will we use the empty vessels ??

    Are submarines part of our infrastructure, how many roads will be created and will Sophia be still on the Bored Board?

    “What critics of any governments health policy don’t explain: why would any Party wanting to win over the electorate deliberately/wilfully slash health funding when all the research shows clearly that it would be a vote looser? – Think Fraser, Howard, Wooldridge, think Insurance pals and AMA, Rebates subsidising private insurance at Taxpayers expense.

    Give me strength!

  27. TGC

    July 6, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Bill Shorten made this election “A referendum on Medicare”
    He lost!

    What critics of any governments health policy don’t explain: why would any Party wanting to win over the electorate deliberately/wilfully slash health funding when all the research shows clearly that it would be a vote looser? Ultimately ensuring health needs are met is not that much more than providing the necessary money via which buildings, technologies, staffing can be brought to the required service level- just put in the money- it’s simple.
    So, why isn’t it done?
    Over to the experts- but a simple (simplistic) answer may be- the money is not there to that level without other ‘absolute priorities’ being deprived.
    Labor will claim ‘there’s plenty of money even if it has to be borrowed from the future infinitum’
    and that’s probab;y correct- though not right!
    Over to the experts.

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