Former Prime Minister John Howard once said he wanted Australians to feel relaxed and comfortable.
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But not the two men currently competing to be our next prime minister.
Judging by the scare campaigns being run by both the major parties over the past week, we can only assume they want us to be afraid, very afraid when we go to the polling booth in just over a week’s time.
The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, wants us to be anxious about hordes of asylum seekers invading our shores if Bill Shorten’s Labor is elected on Saturday week. That’s despite Shorten saying the boats will never make it here because Labor will turn them back just as the Coalition has done.
Shorten’s scare campaign is much closer to home, and is based on one of our greatest anxieties – being able to get access to affordable health care when we need it.
Political journalists have started calling Shorten’s scare campaign “Mediscare”.
The Labor leader has made Mediscare the main theme of his election pitch to voters. According to Shorten, the PM harbours a secret desire to sell Medicare to the private sector, meaning the end of bulk-billing and free access to some health services.
Shorten bases this accusation on the fact that the Government originally had plans to get a private company to run Medicare’s payments system because the current government system uses an antiquated IT network. Those plans have now been scrapped.
This is a long shot from selling off the whole of Medicare, but that little fact hasn’t deterred Labor from suggesting this is the PM’s real intention.
On ABC’s 7.30 last night, presenter Leigh Sales took Shorten to task for being fast and loose with the truth. She challenged Shorten half a dozen times to prove the Coalition would privatise Medicare if re-elected.
At one point Sales asked “Can you put your hand on your heart and look Australians in the eye and say that the Coalition has a policy to privatise Medicare?”
The Labor leader responded “I can say to the people of Australia that this election and their vote on July 2nd will determine the future of Medicare.”
Shorten couldn’t provide proof (because there isn’t any) and essentially said we should trust him when he says Turnbull’s track record proves he cannot be trusted.
That’s right, the man who helped Julia Gillard behind the scenes to knife Kevin Rudd, and then did the same to help Rudd beat Gillard, wants us to take his word over the word of the man who brought down Tony Abbott. What a choice.
Later in the 7.30 interview, Sales asked Shorten whether the message he was sending with his hyperbole around Medicare was that he didn’t think the truth alone could win Labor the election.
Shorten’s response was “Not at all. I just think the truth of the Liberals plans on Medicare is scary and I will not be deterred.”
So are you scared yet? You shouldn’t be. You should be angry instead.
Angry that the two men who are asking us to place our trust in them – not to mention the well-being of the entire country – are treating voters like fools.
With one breath they say they should be trusted, and with the next they’re spinning a lie about their opponent.
We deserve to be treated with greater respect than this. Voters need more than silly ghost stories to help us decide who is best fit to run the country.
VIDEO: Leigh Sales grills Bill Shorten about Medicare