Kate Stewart has been rescued from the Australian Public Service and is now undertaking a Bachelors degree in Visual Arts; which is about as different from her previous job as you can get. Kate enjoys welding in her pink steel-capped boots and entertains notions of being an artist. Towards the end of first semester, Kate became the Country Labor Candidate for the Federal Division of Parkes and attracted a 6% primary vote swing, encouraged a 1.5ish% swing against the informal vote, and as the ABC put it, “won all of the far west booths” (among others) before spending the last two weeks of the uni holidays asleep.
All this talk about Labor’s MediScare seems a little odd to me.
Notwithstanding that if you have no intention of privatising a government service, you probably shouldn’t conduct a study into privatising that service, and also setting aside the likelihood of the National Party, in election mode, telling the truth (Gonski anyone?).
Privatisation wasn’t the Medicare issue we talked about in the electorate of Parkes – which is about half of New South Wales, including most of the parts of New South Wales that New South Wales and the National Party Members of Parliament actively forgets after year four… until agricultural trade figures are reported.
Residents in Parkes receive an average income of approximately $49,000 per year, and I suspect this number is skewed upward by some extremely lucrative cotton farms. Many residents in Parkes are aged pensioners and many others are receiving other forms of income support. I now turn to their stories.
I was chatting with an older bloke in a Narromine pub who elucidated the following story: he had attended Dubbo Base (a public) Hospital to see a specialist. This specialist told him to have a blood test at Pathology. For the privilege of spending two minutes with a needle stuck in his arm he, with his Medicare and Pension Cards, was charged $90.
A woman in Broken Hill had been to a radiology clinic to have a scan she had had performed several times previously… for free. In the week before the election, she attended the clinic to have that same scan… she was charged $200.
My first thought was a genuine question about whether they sacrificed food or rent to pay for those tests?
My second thought was how can Messrs Joyce and Turnbull conscionably force Aged Pensioners, after paying the Medicare Levy and other taxes throughout their lives, to subsidise tax cuts for Point Piper and Toorak?
Reflecting on these questions causes me some concern.
With regard to the first, am I left wondering whether, after Pension freezes and reductions, significant superannuation changes and removing the benefit of the two most valuable items pensioners possess (the Pension Card and the Medicare Card), will we be returning to aged Pensioners eating cat food?
With regard to the second question, I wonder why the National Party assume that people are stupid enough to not recognise that they’ve already paid for Medicare. In essence, after having paid tax for their working lives, the National Party think that it’s okay to shift the wealth of the older generation to a younger generation?
All of which leads me to wonder whether the National and Liberal Parties are trying to either create class warfare setting generations against each other; setting locales against each other; setting workers against the aged…
Or are the National and Liberal Parties trying to manufacture a class war with Medicare?
All of this worries me. I have said before, and will continue to maintain that Medicare is not only the single most important element of our egalitarian democracy. It is by far and away the single most important productivity measure implemented by any government in our history.
Medicare might benefit you and I, Medicare might benefit aged Pensioners and children, but the most sizable benefits from Medicare, in its originally conceived and expanded upon form, is to shareholders and management.
What I mean by that is that Medicare might help families be healthy and well… but Medicare also delivers the private, not-for-profit and government sectors a fit and healthy workforce, which, in large part, that workforce actually paid for.
In other words, Messrs Joyce and Turnbull, by killing Medicare for the benefit of Point Piper and Toorak, will not only be killing Medicare for aged Pensioners, children and families they will be increasing absences from work leading to decreased overall productivity.
Tell me, given that we’re already being charged for what we’ve already paid for, to allow investment bankers and shareholders a decrease in tax rate, was Labor running a MediScare campaign? Or did the Nationals and the Liberals orchestrate the most frightening of MediScares prior to proroguing the Parliament?