Tim Blair


New Criterion



Thursday, September 30, 2004
Can you believe this man? When Uncle graduates to the ranks of the 75-year olds, Mark Latham is going to provide me with instant access to a hospital bed, in hospitals he doesn't run, for any kind of surgery including elective surgery now requiring long waits if you want it free.

And I can give up my contributions to private health insurance.

All for $2.9 billion?

Won't the beds come from those now occupied by younger people? Are these Latham's outsiders for the purpose of health policy?

Won't even more hospital beds be occupied by dementia and other sufferers for whom there is already a shortage of aged-care beds?

It clearly can't be delivered unless the feds can control the State and private hospitals in exchange for this very partial funding. It's like a company taking-over another without paying a premium for control, and passing off responsibility for the target's existing debts.

Well, Latham knows that none of this can be sorted out in the next week, and many points would still be moot when the first Latham government came up for re-election. So it's fit matter for values politics, and for that Latham has some ripe rhetoric.

"My message today comes straight from the people of Australia. It's a message to the people, drawn from the strength and wisdom of the people. ... This message comes from the heart - the big heart of the Australian people themselves..."

There hasn't been a clearer expression of the authoritarian mysticism favoured by the fascists in the last century since Pauline Hanson claimed to be the mother of the Australian people.

Latham wants you to believe he's your heart and your voice.

It's aimed at the all-in wrestling crowd of course.

For older Australians in particular, the next week will see a struggle between hope for an moneyless solution to their health anxieties and their doubts about Mark Latham's fitness for office.

Think hard, fellow fogies.