Posts Tagged ‘blame game’

As we saw the Liberal Party do last year, the Republicans begin the process of apportioning blame. And suddenly, Andrew is willing to listen to bad words spoken about Sarah Palin – even from anonymous sources.

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Tim Dunlop breaks down some of the figures on federal-state proportional funding for hospitals:

In trying to untangle the rhetoric from both parties about their hospital policies the other day, one aspect I only touched on was the issue of funding. I noted that “the Federal Government…seems to be using the moment to decrease the amount of money they put into the system. The usual split between State and Commonwealth is 50/50, though under Mr Abbott the federal share has dropped to about 45%. The Health Minister is now talking in terms of a 40% Commonwealth share, at a time when costs are rising.”

In fact, a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare indicates that the Federal funding share has already dropped to 41% of the total.

Tim talks about the implications of this in terms of the Coalition’s new policy of forming local hospital boards, but it’s worth noting what this says about the historical situation. State governments (or, at the very least, some of them) have been increasing their spending on the health system in an attempt to improve one of the most vital services a government can provide. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth has allowed its investment in health to slip so that the states are shouldering more of the burden than ever before. Meanwhile, the federal Government happily attacks the states on two fronts: (i) they aren’t operating health services at an adequate level, and (ii) state governments running into debt are responsible for interest rate rises.

In other words, the Commonwealth keeps the money in their very deep pockets (all the better to fund advertising campaigns with), and they get to hit the states for both spending too much and not spending enough.

If you want to hear what the other side of politics is saying, Nicola Roxon has a piece in the GG today.

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Announce now, achieve later

Tony Abbott isn’t ready to run a hospital:

“They’ve got to allow us to do our due diligence, to talk to the relevant people, to gather the necessary information and then believe me, we [are] only too eager to take on this responsibility.”

Doesn’t due diligence normally happen before a decision is made? Wouldn’t it have been a good idea to gather the necessary information and put together a plan before announcing the takeover to the public? I guess that assumes the goal was to run the health service effectively.

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Attention, Newcastle

To those who want the Pasha Bulker rudder, follow these steps:

  1. Ask Morris Iemma to arrange purchase of the item from the ship’s owners.
  2. Wait for Iemma to refuse.
  3. Make sure John Howard knows that the NSW government has refused to fund your purchase.
  4. Wait for the Commonwealth government to buy you a rudder.

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George Megalogenis points out Howard’s hypocrisy and Rudd’s shortcomings on the issue of federal-state roles and responsibilities.

The key point emerging from all of this posturing about hospitals (oops – I guess I should really use the singular), interest rates, schools, roads, etc. is that it’s tactical point-scoring without an emerging policy direction, on both sides of politics.

John and Kevin, here is your task: develop a clear model of Commonwealth-state relations, create policies that reflect it in a coherent manner, and campaign on them. If you’re not willing to do that, shut up about what’s wrong with the states or what’s wrong with how your opponent is treating the states.

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Spot the difference

What the Tasmanian Government says:

LARA GIDDINGS: I have some serious concerns and I’m concerned that Mr Abbott failed to be able to answer my questions.

He failed to be able to guarantee to me that what he was proposing is safe – safe for Tasmanians who will be using that hospital into the future.

He failed to guarantee that it would be sustainable. He failed to guarantee that it would not impact on my other hospitals.

Honest John’s interpretation:

“For the Tasmanian Health Minister to say in effect, ‘Well we’re going to spite the Federal Government because we don’t like the idea of the Federal Government being involved,’ shows an arrogant disregard for the interest of the people in Devonport and the people of northern Tasmania,” he said.

We know bullshit when we smell it, John.

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Here he goes again

John Howard is ready to let the people have their say – because, in this case, he thinks they’ll go against a state Labor government.

But what about a referendum on Commonwealth intervention in state affairs? Referenda are no good for clearing up this stuff, he tells us:

“Referenda to start with are very complicated, difficult issues and the arguments often get lost,” he said.

“In any event I’m not seeking a tectonic shift, I’m not seeking a major realignment of constitutional responsibilities, I am operating within the existing constitution.”

Howard’s application of a clear double standard in attempting to exploit tensions across the three levels of government is not surprising. What still manages to catch me out is the brazen transparency with which he does it.

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What I don’t get

  1. Why does John Howard talk about the state governments with such obvious contempt? He conveys an expectation that everyone agrees that the states are being run badly and that we’ll all believe him when he says that all the problems with hospitals/schools/housing/inflation/etc. are their fault because we know they’re incompetent. Does he not realize that the voters he is speaking to are the same ones who elected those governments?
  2. Given the consistent poll results showing a reasonably hefty swing against the coalition, should Howard be focusing on the most marginal of seats or should he let seats like Braddon fall where they may and worry about hanging onto the ones where there are a few percentage points in it? The Government’s situation (and behaviour) seems so desperate, it would seem that hanging onto a bare majority of seats would be a reasonable target at this point.

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Grab a hospital, grab a headline

I’ve been out walking the world a bit these past few days, and haven’t had a chance to say my piece about the Commonwealth hospital takeover beyond a brief snark. Others have now said many of the things I would say, so this is a bit of a “me too” entry (not that I condone metooism, Kevin).


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The desperation

Wake up and smell it.

The Howard Government: Buying your votes, one marginal seat at a time.

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