As George Constanza observed, “its not a lie if you believe it”
Medicare is a metaphor for just about everything.
“……Everything you wanted to know about how and why we got to where we are. Some choice pars from Nick Kater’s column in today’s Oz.
Is that an election campaign we just lived through or a remake of Wag the Dog, the movie in which a spin doctor and a Hollywood director fabricate a war with Albania to distract from a presidential scandal? “What difference does it make if it’s true?” asks the president’s minder, Conrad Brean. “If it’s a story and it breaks, they’re going to run with it.” Federal election 2016: reform is casualty of ALP’s Medicare scare
After his presumed victory in a fictitious battle to save a government-run insurance scheme that was never under threat, Bill Shorten now claims an imaginary mandate for non-existent solutions to real and pressing challenges.
We all know what they are — the government is spending beyond the nation’s means and the economy is growing too slowly — but what’s Shorten going to do if he wins government?
He’s going to legislate same-sex marriage within 100 days.
I reject the arguments of those opposite who say providing cover to everyone will encourage overuse of health services,” (Hawke Labor Health Minister) Neil Blewett told the chamber.
Blewett’s valiant assumption proved wrong. In Medicare’s first year 45 per cent of services were bulk-billed. By the time John Howard took office in 1996 the proportion had risen to 71 per cent. In 2014-15 it hit a record 78 per cent and — in defiance of Labor’s dire predictions about the frozen rebate — is still rising.
It gets worse: in 1984-85 the average Australian called upon a Medicare subsidy once every seven weeks. Within a decade it was down to five weeks. Today the average green card is swiped every 23 days, justifying predictions that, if left unchecked, health spending will eventually consume the government’s entire budget.
Let’s dispense with the fiction that Medicare was ever self-funded or operated like a commercial insurance scheme. The Medicare levy — now 2 per cent — is little more than a ruse to raise personal tax rates while avoiding the political consequences.
Shorten is right about one thing: Medicare needs saving, not from Malcolm Turnbull but from the unsustainable course on which Labor plans to take it.
His populist campaign against the non-policy of outsourcing the Medicare payments slapped the political equivalent of a heritage order on a dilapidated monument in desperate need of repair. From now on it will take an exceptionally brave party leader to touch it. Shorten’s hostility to health reform — one of the central policy challenges of the day — will set the tone for his government, should he ever form one.
His response to spending challenges in health, welfare and education is to continue where the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd administrations left off, locking in even higher levels of recurrent spending.
And so, with net debt forecast to hit $356 billion in two years’ time and growth consistently falling short of the levels required to accelerate our way out of trouble, the prospects of an effective response to this structural crisis are not exactly bright.
On one side is a government that has self-evidently failed to persuade the nation of the case for fiscal responsibility and may yet have to barter with maverick rent-seekers to get back into office.
On the other is Shorten’s Labor, uninterested in controlling spending or encouraging private-sector growth, that would bring little to government save the hubris of winning a phony war……”