Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist March 2013 Contents Australian Pharmacist March 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 21
Shock horror! A 14 September federal
Immediately the media responded to Prime
Minister Julia Gillard's announcement,
especially the Canberra bureau journos who
openly slavered over the thought of eight
months of rich political fodder to colour
the nation's newspapers and screens under
But within a week the enormity of it all had
sunk in -- eight months of political argy bargy,
innuendo, claim and counter claim and, with
so much hanging on each evening's political
lead, the parties falling over one another to
give the five or 10 second carefully-scripted
media grab. Was it all going to be too much?
Such is the carriage of the contemporary
political campaign. Why eight months? Labor
believes it has policies covering the two big
election issues -- ensuring the quality of the
country's health care system and managing
the economy -- already in the bank and is
prepared to continue promoting its successes
in other arenas while calling to the populace
for another term to finish the job.
Eight months till a
By Mark Thornton
The Coalition has been more secretive with its
policies and seems reluctant to reveal them
any time soon. They are quite happy to descry
those of the Government. Opposition Leader
Tony Abbott says there is plenty of time
to map out policies, presumably after he's
exhausted the rhetoric.
Unfortunately for both the Government
and Coalition, state MPs seem to be trying
their hardest to muddy the waters for their
Since the sordid revelations about what
might be called the Obeid Affair, with very
senior former and current Labor politicians
allegedly embroiled in a mess of corruption,
the TV footage of the self-important accused
and their 'Who? Me!' smiles will have many
electors thinking twice about Labor. This is
supposed to be the party of the working
man and woman, a party that believes in the
equality of all for a fair go. Instead, scarcely a
news edition goes by without the party being
dragged further into the mire of apparent
self-interest and greed.
Labor's spin is that the corruption is being
exposed. The system works -- albeit too
slowly -- and that the doings of the state MPs,
never mind the faces of a few federal ones
on the periphery, will not affect the federal
poll. This spin is not credible, because it's the
party name -- the brand -- that is being sullied.
You can bet that in and out of Parliament the
Coalition will push the associations as far as
slander laws will allow it.
Mind you, the Coalition isn't shiny white
either. NSW, WA and Queensland Liberal
Governments are pandering to either the
minority loony elements at their coat tails,
propping up their tenuous majority (NSW), or
the mining industry which cares little for even
the mild restrictions on its permits to exploit
and despoil (WA and Queensland). The rest
of the world seems to care a lot more about
our unique wildlife and the Great Barrier and
Ningaloo reefs than we do.
But the Government does have runs on the
board says Dr Nicholas Barry of La Trobe
'One of the ironies of the current minority
government... is that a toxic political
environment, saturation media coverage,
and constant sense of crisis have actually not
prevented the government from governing,'
Dr Barry says.
'Despite the difficulties it has faced, the
current Labor Government has managed
to pass significant reforms, most notably,
the introduction of the carbon tax and the
Dr Barry is correct about Labor reforms.
But when referring to toxic politics and the
creation of a constant sense of crisis, the
divining rod veers strongly to the right!
Dr Barry says he hopes that it might be
possible 'to have a seven-month lead-up to
the election dominated by genuine debate
over policy, with both major parties putting
forward competing approaches, and media
coverage focused on substantive issues rather
than horse-race journalism.' Sadly, this is a
forlorn hope, he concedes.
For, as HL Mencken observed: 'The principal
aim of practical politics is to keep the
populace alarmed, and hence clamorous
to be led to safety, by threatening it with
an endless series of hobgoblins, most of
The question is which party can conjure
the most fearful hobgoblins -- read endless
armadas of asylum seekers or the carbon tax
on the one hand, or a return to Workchoices
on the other -- to affright the voters.
Perhaps amidst all the hurly burly, baying TV
stories and screaming print headlines, it all
really comes down to putting aside the fear
and seriously considering what's good for the
country, and thus good for most of us. If only
the pollies would do the same.
It is going to be a long eight months!
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 or staff.
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