Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Roxon Abbott Debate

No worm. Boo!

Mr Abbott was due to arrive for a 12.30pm debate with Ms Roxon, but arrived at 1.05pm, about 20 minutes after the debate commenced.

The minister was travelling to the national capital from Melbourne, where he made a major health announcement with Prime Minister John Howard.

The event went ahead anyway and Ms Roxon, given the right to speak first, was visibly angry.

Roxon: (not 'visibly angry' at all- in fact looking rather pleased about this golden opportunity to put the boot into Abbott) Makes cracks about having to debate herself. Lays into abbot for not turning up. Whack whack whack. [Let's hope tony is delivering a baby on a freeway somewhere rather than expecting the debate to wait for him while he makes pompous 'policy' announcements in Melbourne.] We have big challenges to face blah blah, blame game. Relates state-fed health situation to a bad marriage. Mentions aboriginal children, next generation etc. Mentions preventive health and cracks about picking a hospital in a marginal electorate... We're gonna take responsibility, and invest heavily, [maybe there might be a pay rise for speech pathologists... what? what? the fuck you lookin' at?], talks about nursing etc blah blah. Talks about her and Rudd revealing a plan to have hospital report cards later today. Says Abbott has always been against health reform (unless it's taking us back to the 14th century and forced childbirth). Talks about the piecemeal political quick-fix tactics under Abbott. Talks about how Abbott attacked Bernie Banton (nice one, Tony). Mentions how the Federal government are underfunding the states. (Roxon takes her time, not having anyone to debate... rousing applause at the end).

[There's still no one to debate. Roxon takes questions].

Danielle Cronin Canberra Times: Is labor going to run out of money to pay for hospitals?

Roxon: The $2 billion plan is a long term commitment and we'll invest more. Will prioritise health negotiations and have actually put up money to fund them, unlike the government.

Abbott: (still hasn't bothered to show up)

Mark something, smh: (Noting his question was intended for Tony Abbott, but Roxon may as well have a go at it anyway) Talks about how the Medicare safety net tends to benefit rich people.

Roxon: Good crack about being able to do an impersonation of Tony Abbott to answer the question- it's quite good apparently. Talks up private sector, looks like she's committed to propping up the parasitic private sector with taxpayer money. Talks about improving bulk billing etc and making Medicare better available.

Laura Tingle, Financial Review: Go through how the healthcare agreement negotiations will proceed given how you're gonna work with the states but reserve the right to act like the government if they don't play ball?

Roxon: Talks about targets and how the commission will help determine targets. Will start talking to the state health ministers the day after the election. Points out how Abbott couldn't be bothered to do the same in a timely fashion.

Jane Bunts (AAP?): The govt. has spent more than you, what are you giving voters?

Roxon: It's not all about money, no point pouring billions into stupid, pointless schemes. Points out how they've spent millions on unspendable, non working dental intervention schemes in the Northern Territory, under which not a single person aged under 25 has received treatment.

Announcer: (appoints Roxon acting health minister).

Hedley Thomas, The Australian: We had promises to cut waiting lists from the State government in Queensland. That caused the Bundaberg hospital scandal. How will you avoid this happening again?

roxon: we can do more than one thing at once we're increasing pay for nurses, incentives and investing properly. thus i'm not worried about elective surgery. we're working with
?: you've talked about ending the blame game. the nsw govt. has fucked up health etc. you haven't put back all the funding the govt. took out. why should we risk “wall to wall labor”?

Roxon: We've promised to increase the Federal contribution to the health system. It's a country-wide problem and it's the government not taking an active role in health. We have a plan to take over hospitals if they don't work, so don't worry.

(Abbott waltzes in. People clap for some odd reason.)

Abbott makes his opening statement, 20 minutes into the 'debate'.

Abbot: (Feigns contrition) Thanks for being so patient. I didn't mean to make a grand entrance. Blah blah, i'm honoured to have been health minister [let's hope it stays past-tense]. We have made the health system teh awesome. We've made the PBS fantastic (except for Bernie Banton, who can get fucked). Bashes the states. says they need better management not more money. But they will provide more money anyway, he promises. States will be compelled to add another layer of bureaucracy to collect yet more data about what they're doing. Also the old chestnut about health boards, with yet more bureaucrats. (Carefully avoids saying what's gonna happen once the new boards have 'uncovered' problems at the hospital- presumably blame the states). Starts to sound hoarse. Only the government has a credible plan, Labor are addicted to breaucracy (despite having just been trumpeting plans to create 2 new breaucracies). Blames states again. Booga booga. blathers on, someone claps but aborts (haha).

Qn, The Age: (To Nicola Roxon) You've backed away from banning junk food advertising to kids etc. How much control do you really have?

Roxon: I'm a mum, I know the effect advertising can have on kids. We're waiting for the ACMA review on advertising. Extends further than just TV advertising. Says they'll look at things in a responsible way and they'll follow ACMA reviews. talks about how they're going to support teaching kids about food etc. Says she and Rudd have a good working relationship on the issue.

Abbott: Roxon has been overruled by Rudd (attacks Labor for backing down on the ban, then proceeds to reaffirm his own opposition to a ban). It's the parents' responsibility to protect their kids from multi-billion dollar advertising campaigns.

Rhianna King, the West Australian: You backflipped on letting all hospitals be run by local boards and used evasive language to say which hospitals would actually get them.

Abbott: The buck won't stop with Kevin Rudd. The buck should stop with someone. Just not us. So we'll have local boards and blame them instead.

Roxon: Abbott has no clear plan for local boards. We spent a lot of time talking about the Mersey hospital fuck up. The Howard government has been struggling with AWAs etc. in the Mersey.

Clinton Porteus, Courier Mail: You're late, you've blundered again. Why couldn't you turn up on time?

Abbott: My campaign launch was more important.

Roxon: The government is out of touch and arrogant. Abbot wouldn't even bother planning on being places on time.

Michelle Grattan: You supported the Federal government taking over the health system. Now you no longer believe in it. Could you take us through your thought processes in your backflip?

Abbott: I always thought that the local village idiot should be running local hospitals. We're not retreating, we're attacking in a different direction.

Roxon: it's just going to be another level of bureaucracy.

Mark Merrill, SMH: John Howard said we should be proud Medicare is fair. It really isn't- it's better for rich people because of your policies. You lie?

Abbott: No, I'm not. The Safety Net is good. We've done enough. It's all the states fault. They can like our deal or lump it.

Roxon: If Howard gets back in it'll be take it or leave it instead of negotiation with the states. No partnership, no reform.

Laura Tingle: Health care agreements- are you just going to hand over money to the states? Cherry pick hospitals? Will you have extra conditions etc?

Abbott: We want to deliver the best healthcare. We're so not interested about putting hospital workers on AWAs. (Flounders desperately on the detail of his hospital board policy).

Roxon: Tony lies. He issued a public service determination to say the Mersey hospital workers wouldn't be on AWAs. Why won't he reassure workers now?

(closing statements)

Abbott: Judge this government by its record and its promises. Judge our sincerity etc. We are awesome. Good managers. We've made everything better now than it was 11 years ago when Keating had just thought it up. We'll end the blame game by starting a new one.

Roxon: You have a choice. An old government with a dodgy record, 65% of the country in workforce shortage, 1/3 of people avoid healthcare because they can't afford it [like me- I need to get my wisdom teeth out and can't afford it]. They only have a plan to force nurses on AWAs and a crappy record. We have a clear vision for the future etc. The future. Mums and dads. The buck stops with us. A real plan, not an election plan. We'll invest etc.