Reflecting on today’s very underwhelming health policy ‘debate’ at the National Press Club left me feeling like a very large, brightly coloured bus had been missed.
The Federal Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek seemed determined to prove she had been totally across her portfolio by barraging the audience with a rote-learned recitation of the statistical highlights of her term as Minister. Peter Dutton from the Coalition was determined to stick to his pre-rehearsed talking points which anyone familiar with the health portfolio has heard kicked around a lot over the last year or so.
There were no significant announceables.
Not a cracker.
Not even a massive, visionary mess like Medicare Gold. I wondered idly beforehand whether the Government might have rolled a massive pair of dice on a big policy unveiling at this debate but if there was I must have dozed through it. All I saw was a pair of cautious, passably competent pollies trading platitudes in an effort to see off the opening bowlers before settling down to blocking every potentially testing delivery with a dead bat. It was the political equivalent of hoping that Chris Tavare was going to skip down the wicket and spank a six.
Speaking of that supreme doyen of the deadpan, I was attracted to a description in his Wikipedia entry, where the journalist Alex Masssie wrote that, for Tavare, the task of actually scoring runs (and by analogy that of discussing health policy for this debate) was ‘a disagreeable, even vulgar, distraction from the pure task of surviving’.
That sounds like a pretty fair description of the efforts of both Minister Plibersek and Aspirational Minister Dutton in this debate. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Notification of Conflict of Interest Please note that my youngest brother (a shiftless Gen Y ideologue) is an employee of Senator Richard Di Natale, who is the Australian Greens Spokesperson on Health. I have never met Senator Di Natale myself, and he was not invited to participate in the NPC debate, which is why the health policies of the Greens, Palmer United, One Nation, the DLP, Shooters’ Party, Democrats, Sex Party and other minor parties do not constitute a subject for comment in this article. I insist that you compare my analysis of today’s debate with other media commentators to decide for yourself if you think I have been biased to any party in particular. For the bits I could stay awake for, I believe this is a fair representation…