Let’s face it. Everyone’s more interested in discussing leaks and polls than policy in this campaign. Why is this? In part, it’s because of the political theatre of the horse race and the personality contest, and in part because of the effects of the unprecedented deposition of a first term Prime Minister.
But there’s another reason. What’s on offer is bite sized policy, which at best only addresses a part of the problem. And that part is carefully selected on the basis of what electoral message it sends, not because it’s the highest priority in a time of fiscal stringency.
Take, for example, Labor’s announcements on mental health on Tuesday and disability today.
Funds for suicide prevention and supported accommodation and assistance to carers of children with disabilities are worthy. But they’re only a small part of the bigger picture. While advocates and experts in these policy areas always have a natural desire for more, it’s also the case that the ALP government once promised more.
We were to have a comprehensive national mental health strategy and a plan for national disability insurance was once touted as a centre piece of Labor’s second term agenda – a big social reform to rival Medicare.
The tragedy with the initiatives promised now is that they’re not even contextualised within a strategy for comprehensively addressing these serious issues of social care, and they’re not even the best way to get to such a strategy.
Elsewhere: Croakey on the mental health announcement.
Elsewhere: Mark at the ABC’s Drumroll.