Tony Abbott’s performance in question time today, and the timing of his parental leave thought bubble more generally, suggest that his major imperative was to switch the topic of debate from health. That’s despite the Coalition running a very active scare campaign about hospital closures in the bush, but it’s probably because of the polling on Rudd’s initiative. I suspect also that it wouldn’t be going out too far on a limb to venture a modest prediction that that Labor might be headed for an uptick in the polls.
Some Coalition MPs have suggested that this plan came about so suddenly because Abbott had become privy to private party polling.
I strongly suspect that the Labor Party might have had a bit of a turnaround – perhaps related to the National Curriculum and health, and Abbott might be responding to that. It could also explain why he felt he had to release some ‘positive policy’. It could well be that his negativism has had an impact; I note that Labor Ministers have been reiterating the ‘Senate obstructionism’ line again this morning.
In short, on where the parties actually stand, one shouldn’t believe what one reads in The Australian.
Meanwhile, whether or not Abbott makes health a focus of his parliamentary attack, the Premiers continue to ponder the National Health and Hospitals Network. Kevin Rudd has wrought his own ambush, confident that there’s no political skin to be lost picking a fight with the states on this battleground. But that doesn’t mean that some of the Premiers haven’t been posing some good questions – interestingly, probably more from Kristina Kenneally than John Brumby.
And while the headline politics might have been the primary focus of media attention, some good work continues to be done on analysing the policy itself. I’ve posted some salient links over the fold.
Health academic James Gillespie authored a comprehensive piece for Inside Story, while the Centre for Policy Development has a veritable plethora of analysis: John Menadue on governance, Ian McAuley on what the PM still needs to tell us, Fiona Armstrong on the meaning or meanings of ‘local’, and Jennifer Doggett on out of pocket expenses.
There’s more than enough fodder for a very healthy debate on Rudd’s initiative.