9 January 2024

Labor has been in office long enough now to stop blaming the last mob

| Chris Johnson
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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

Anthony Albanese’s government continues to blame the Coalition for the nation’s woes. Photo: Screenshot.

Labor has now been in power federally for 18 months and we have a new year ahead.

So, is it too much to ask that all the problems and difficulties facing the nation are not continuously and endlessly blamed on the former government?

There is hardly a public statement, media appearance or press release issued at the moment without a government minister declaring they are still trying to undo the mess the Coalition got the country into.

It’s not new. It’s been happening since Labor won the election in May 2022.

It was understandable for a few months – six months, maybe – but it’s now more than a year-and-a-half that Labor has been in office and the excuses are wearing thin.

Sure, there have been a number of doozies the former Coalition government inflicted on Australians (Robodebt, anyone?), and yes, it is a well-worn ploy used by all sides of politics to cop out by pointing the finger at the ‘previous lot’.

The Morrison government is an easy target. It was often mean and nasty and more than a little embarrassing.

That’s a broad generalisation, sure, but it’s hard to overstate how out of touch Scott Morrison was on so many issues.

But guess what? Those issues are not the Coalition’s problems anymore.

Is it not time for the ALP to take ownership of them all, good and bad, without hiding behind the false security of the past?

Take this week, for example. In fact, just yesterday (8 January).

An independent report from online healthcare directory Cleanbill shows a disturbing trend that bulk billing is collapsing in every state and territory.

Cleanbill’s Blue Report states that fewer than one in four Australian GP clinics currently offer bulk billing to all adults through Medicare, which has fallen by more than 11 percentage points on a clinic-by-clinic basis in the last year.

A total of 514 clinics that bulk billed all patients at the start of 2023 had stopped by November.

More than 75 per cent of clinics today do not offer bulk billing to adults, leaving patients with an average out-of-pocket cost in excess of $40.

That’s pretty much how it is across all of Australia.

“The trend it outlines is catastrophic,” the report declares.

Of course, the Federal Opposition jumped on this.

Shadow health minister Anne Ruston blames it on the government.

“Since Labor came into government, bulk billing rates have dropped consecutively every single month, with the latest quarterly data showing rates have plummeted to the lowest levels in over a decade,” Senator Ruston said.

“This government was elected with a promise to ‘strengthen Medicare’, yet all of the data is steamrolling in the opposite direction.

“This is a seriously concerning trend that Australians just cannot afford. Not only is it pushing up out-of-pocket expenses for families, but we also know that a weakened primary care system only increases the pressure on our overburdened hospitals.”

That’s a free shot for the opposition and Ruston was right on target.

That’s what oppositions do and they can comfortably get away with it.

There is no responsibility in opposition.

The government’s response? Blame it on the last government.

Health Minister Mark Butler told news outlets it was the Coalition’s fault that Australians have reduced access to bulk-billing doctors.

“A decade of cuts and neglect” is how he described it.

But the government can’t get away with those tactics as easily as the opposition can. That’s because all responsibility lies with the government.

Medicare is just one example.

When more Australians are finding they have tax bills rather than returns for the past financial year, they’re not blaming Scott Morrison – but Anthony Albanese and Jim Chalmers are.

When people can’t access Centrelink services, they’re not cursing the former government.

Katy Gallagher weakens almost every good initiative she announces by formulaically adding that the Albanese Government is cleaning up the Coalition’s mess.

All Labor ministers are saying the same thing.

But the former government is yesterday’s (yesteryear’s) news.

One day, this government will be old news, too, so why not leave a legacy of ownership rather than petty blame-shifting?

Original Article published by Chris Johnson on Riotact.

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