Home' Australian Pharmacist : February 2013 Contents Australian Pharmacist February 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 21
Such is the state of the Australian Labor Party that, in hindsight, it appears to
have been in pre-election mode almost since it barely won the last one.
The media, particularly the ABC,
haven't helped in this. Stung by criticisms
of bias toward Labor during the past two
elections, the ABC has strived to be seen to
be impartial by giving the Opposition an
opportunity to comment on just about any
subject it broadcasts with a political flavour.
Frankly, it's gone too far. During the
nationwide heat wave and fires early last
month the ABC reported on Prime Minister
Julia Gillard's visit to Tasmania. This was
not a political event. This is what national
leaders do in times of crisis. So why they
felt they had to get Opposition Leader
Tony Abbott's observations as well is
Presumably it was to give equal air time to
both major parties, though this is only an
obligation to be fair to conflicting political
interests after an election has been called.
Sadly it's only going to get worse as we
head towards the election.
The 2013 election for the House and half of
the Senate can take place on any Saturday
between 3 August and 30 November but
the agreement between the Labor Party
and independents Tony Windsor and
Rob Oakeshott says: '...this Parliament
should serve its full term and that the next
election will be held on a date to be agreed
in September or October 2013'.
So, we have at least another eight months
to go, in that time Labor will highlight its
achievements over the past three years
which, though they have been obscured
by the daily politicking, are not as small as
some might think.
Popular achievements have been Labor's
strong economic performance while the
rest of the world struggled on the GFC's
slippery slope, a commitment through
COAG to spend nearly $20 billion more on
public hospitals by 2019 -- with $1 billion
already spent, abolishing WorkChoices,
increasing the age pension, increasing
spending on mental health, dental health
reform, GP super clinics and streamlining
the PBS which, though criticised at the
time, now appears to be very much in the
Then there's the reform of the national
school curriculum, the introduction of the
A long and noisy road to the
2013 federal election
By Mark Thornton
new Independent Hospital Pricing Authority,
the National Disability Insurance Scheme
and bold tobacco reform -- which was lauded
internationally. These are all issues that
directly affect people's lives.
There are other items that could fit the
list but the Government's focus on health
is noticeable. Health, with education, is
consistently named in polls as the issue most
voters are concerned about.
However, in three months WA will hold its
own election. The Liberals hold power there
with the backing of four Nationals and three
Independents and, with the state continuing
to boom thanks to mining, which would tend
to favour the political right, the result there
could well influence popular thinking in the
Meanwhile, Queensland and NSW have
already had their political say and voted
heavily against Labor. Interestingly, with the
heady rush of new found power, the new
governments wasted no time in swinging
the pendulum far to the right. In doing so
they upset many people who voted for them
-- think amateur shooters in NSW national
parks; think mass sackings of public servants
and dredging the Great Barrier Reef, which
has sent shockwaves around the world.
This political opportunism may factor in the
The PM has already warned the populace that
Queensland Premier 'Campbell Newman's
budget razor is Tony Abbott's curtain-raiser',
smart rhetoric that has already raised Labor's
primary vote in that state to 30%.
Heading south, In Victoria, a Newspoll taken
over the November-December 2012 period
returned primary vote figures of Labor 38%,
Coalition 36%, Greens 16% and Others 10%.
The state-wide two party preferred was
55% for the Labor Opposition.
As things stand now, we have a federal
government struggling to persuade voters
it deserves a third term because it can do
better, led by a woman who only recently
appears to be discovering what it means to
be a PM. And we have an Opposition led by
a man who so parodies himself that no one
seems to take him too seriously. Both leaders
will be on the hustings pretty much as soon
as the first session of Parliament begins.
National elections are always interesting,
this one looks like being particularly so.
Mark Thornton is a Canberra-based
journalist and was a member of the
Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery for
many years. Any opinions expressed are
not necessarily those of PSA, its Board
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