Community Health Reform

BATTLE LINES DRAWN

Budget week is over, and the only thing left for the Prime Minister to do is visit the Governor-General to formally call the election.

Both the Government and Opposition have laid out bold and competing visions for the nation’s future and, come May, it will be for the people to decide which one they choose.

What is clear is that both the Government’s budget and Labor’s response play to their natural political strengths and philosophical beliefs.

For the Government it is about economic management delivering strong budget surpluses to investment in areas like health but also offering tax cuts.

Their mantra is ‘only a strong economy under the Coalition can provide the money needed to both cut taxes and invest in services’.

For Labor, it was a big investment in health, underpinned by a $2.3 billion cancer plan to see out of pocket expenses for cancer patients abolished.

This will, essentially, be funded by Labor’s unwavering commitment to raise revenue through a series of major tax changes covering franking credits, negative gearing and capital gains tax.

Health –  Front and Centre Election Issue

Once again, health is looking to be the key battle ground for this Federal Election.

On Tuesday night, the Government did a good job to try and neutralise health as a defining issue for the election through their spending on health to try to avoid, at all costs, a repeat of the 2016 “MediScare” campaign run by Labor.

At every opportunity, the Government has trumpeted its commitment to health led by, for example, Minister Hunt consistently reminding the community how many new drugs the Government has listed on the PBS, in comparison to when Labor were last in Government.

The Government also sought to bury the hatchet with GPs on Tuesday night by reinstating indexation of Medicare items to nullify an expected attack from Labor.

With Labor’s cancer plan announcement, it once again sets up health as a major political battle ground for the election.

The choice for the community is now quite clear.

Under the Coalition you can have sound economic management, exemplified by tax cuts for all and some more spending on key services such as health that a well-run economy allows a Coalition Government to deliver.

Alternatively, under Labor, you can have similar tax cuts for low- and middle-income earners, major spending in health – as demonstrated by the cancer plan – and even larger surpluses that Labor has committed to delivering.

The fundamental difference is that the Coalition is promising to deliver their manifesto with no new taxes, in fact less taxes, whereas Labor is promising to deliver their manifesto through an increase in tax revenue, while distributing part of that to those they deem the neediest.

Will people vote with their hip-pocket in mind, or for more spending on services like health funded by increased taxation?

All will be clear when the nation votes on either May 18, or possibly May 11.

As for the Prime Minister visiting the Governor-General, that will either be this weekend or next weekend at the latest.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jody Fassina is the Managing Director of Insight Strategy and has served as a strategic adviser to MedTech and pharmaceutical stakeholders.

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