MUST READ: A Health Warning For Liberals

Medicine is pressured by a radical socialist transformation

Medicine is pressured by a radical socialist transformation. Some of this is top down. Much of it is bottom up, writes Dr Grant N Ross

For
2 years I was the Melbourne University Liberal Club’s token doctor.
Turning up late, or never, I would always be out of kilter with JSM,
political theories and fights of the day and somewhat under the
impression that Kroger was a kind of cheese. 
Luckily,
being a stereotype got me over the line.

I
would like to redeem my standing by attempting to write about the
direction of health under Labor and the alternative policy direction
the Liberal Party should choose when in Government.

I
feel that there is a need f
or a Liberal establishment to take note of
the direction of health under Roxon and Plibersek and to hear the
story I am about to tell about the pressures within medicine that
will come to change the way doctors do politics for the next 20
years. All is not well, and I want to tell you why.

As
we speak, Medicine is pressured by a radical socialist
transformation. 
Some
of this is top down. Much of it is bottom up.

The Top Down 

 From
the top down, there have been a series of reforms that:


  • Create
    a greater role for government in health


  • Are
    mostly anti-doctor


  • Occurred
    without significant consultation with the medical profession


  • Involved
    the creation of enormous layers of bureaucracy to centrally manage
    an existing private industry


  • Prioritised
    special interests and unions rather than the front line service
    deliveries

Such
reforms include the creation of many different councils to
micromanage various health care aims instead of directly funding
practitioners; and by doing so orchestrate a transfer of power away
from practitioners and patients towards bureaucrats and their
interests.

A
quick list of the agencies and bureaucracies created by federal Labor
include the following:

  • Australian
    commission on safety and quality of healthcare

  • National
    Health performance authority

  • Independent
    Hospital Pricing Authority

  • The
    Administrator and funding body

  • Medicare
    Locals

  • Australian
    Medical Locals Network

  • Australian
    national preventative health agency

  • Local
    Hospital Networks

  • Health
    Workforce Australia

  • Aged
    Care Reform Implementation Council

  • Mental
    Health Commission

  • Aged
    Care Financing Authority

There
are three cardinal reforms by Labor that have made things worse in
health; national registration, Prescribing and Medicare Locals.

National
Registration

Since
2010 we have had the imposition of a massive tax on doctors by way of
a National Registration reform by Nicola Roxon.
Previously, doctors were registered to a state body but are now
registered to the Australian Health Practitioners Registration
Agency; a centralised national authority.

AHPRA,
formed by Labor to ‘facilitate’ national registration, imposes a
$680 ‘Doctor Tax’ on doctors every year; much higher than
previously imposed. The agency’s role, it seems, is to run a police
check once a year, keep names on a register and then deal with a
doctor if they do something wrong by threatening or taking away the
legal right to practice Medicine.

Whilst
most doctors agree on the need for professional regulation, nobody
accepted the AHPRA model being imposed in the face of a functioning
previous system.

There
is an overwhelming sentiment among the medical community that the
AHPRA reforms are decidedly anti-doctor. Firstly, they removed
semi-autonomy from the previous state based QUANGOs. Secondly, the
AHPRA came about against the wishes of the AMA and the medical
profession at large. Thirdly, doctors have to pay extraordinarily
higher registration fees. Fourthly, AHPRA lumps doctors together with
other health professionals in an overt breach of professional
autonomy:


Ahpra

Footnote I – The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law came into effect in 2010. Whilst it was a COAG agreement, AHPRA was a cornerstone commitment of Labor and driven largely by their political agenda and under mostly government influence.

What
is most worrying is that the registration reforms are a direct step
towards the complete Federal take over of health; via monopolising
the licensing of ALL health professionals in the country to one
federally controlled agency. This should be interpreted as a step
towards government socialisation of the entire health workforce. 

Nobody
is quite sure what will happen in the future with AHPRA. I would look
at it as a dysfunctional way of registering doctors and a target for
reform under a Liberal government.

Prescribing
under Labor

The
Labor reforms have particularly offended the medical profession by
allowing nurses and other non-doctors to prescribe medications.
Prescribing has long been the privilege of the physician, a deeply
difficult and precise business and the Government have legislated for
non doctors to prescribe dangerous medications.

Doctors
still do not agree with this. Below is an example of a lethal
medication that should not be given to people in a range of
circumstances ranging from addiction to intra cranial conditions that
is available from a nurse with no medical training. 

DHA

Footnote II – http://www.ahpra.gov.au accessed 6/11/2012
  
Whilst
nobody would wish the loss of political capital by enabling more
practitioners to prescribe, a government should make a principled
stand on prescribing and give that right exclusivity to those who
lead the health system; doctors. Put simply, do not politicize
opiates; morphine is a drug, not an entitlement. We are all better
off without this gray zone.

General
Practice and the Medicare Locals

Medicare
Locals are essentially the creation of large bureaucracies all across
Australia to control the delivery of General Practice services.
Marking the greatest shift of power away from the functioning private
sector to yet more bureaucrats, these organizations claim to
‘coordinate resources’, ‘identify gaps in access’ and other
nebulous imperatives.

They
are really about creating a centralized bureaucracy, more removed
from front line services, to control the allocation of General
Practice visits. Most of these agencies will be run by non-doctors
with political agendas. This
WILL
redirect front line funding.

Whilst
most left leaning elitists and pundits would label a move against
Medicare Locals as ‘protectionism’ for doctors, it should be a
Liberal priority for several reasons.

Fee
for service, rather than centralized allocation, is the most
efficient form of funding for primary care. Doctors alone deliver the
vast majority of primary care via their minute to minute labor.
Direct funding is clearly superior.

Secondly,
reinforcing private practice builds trust within the medical
profession and empowers doctors to deliver good care for their
patients.

Thirdly,
it builds on the only model that can safely deliver cost effective
health care in a flexible and dynamic way. There is pragmatism within
the medical profession that is unrivaled in history. Pragmatism
requires individual liberty. It is the antithesis of bureaucracy.

Doctors
should be allowed to govern how they arrange their practice and the
market is the best way to ensure that each patient finds the doctor
they prefer. We all know that we would prefer to choose our doctor
when we need them; not when the government tells us.

I
have written about three big players in the health reform agenda of
the last 5 years. National Registration and the step towards
socialist health system, widening of prescribing rights and finally
the complete government takeover of General Practice. These are just
a few example of the top down socialist pressures on health that I
have noticed. 
Alas,
they are not the most worrying change ahead of us.

Luckily
for us, Peter Dutton, Shadow Minister for Health, has already
demonstrated his capacity for reform by pledging to scrap the
Medicare Locals and GP super clinics.

Dutton
is an ex policemen, successful businessman, ex-Minister in the Howard
Government and assistant treasurer to the great Peter Costello. He is
clearly a man who understands health and has a distinct policy vision
to restore the health system to a position of strength, rather than
interference and bureaucratization. I believe he will be warmly
welcomed by the medical community and be one of the best advocates
for the restoration of a sensible health system.

The Bottom Up 

Dutton

I
have spoken about some of the top down pressures in a socialist
direction on the health system. I would like to talk briefly about
some of the pressures from the bottom up, that only a doctor can see,
that are still pertinent to the Liberal agenda.

If
the fantasia reforms of the Roxon/Plibersek era are anything to lose
sleep over, they are nothing on the bottom up forces plaguing
medicine at a much more sinister level.

Since
my entry into medicine as a first year student in 2006, the values
underpinning medicine have been rampantly veering towards the left.
The pressures mounting from the bottom, aka medical school
environments, are horrendously aligned with ALP and Greens stigmata.
For those who thought that foaming at the mouth socialism and
bureaucratic elitism were limited to the confines of the Arts
departments, you are wrong.

The
Medical schools themselves have pursued a long march style reform
into the medical degree; especially in the selection of candidates.
Traditionally, school leavers were selected based on ENTER/ATAR score
and the Undergraduate Medical Admissions Tests. No test is perfect,
but the principle was that admission was based on objective academic
capacity; with a view to selecting bright school leavers (whether
advantaged or otherwise).

This
principle cemented medicine as being about academic capacity,
something worth its salt in any market, rather than ‘social
equity’. This is the right way for things to be.

Nowadays,
courses almost universally select via interview. You can dress up how
‘official’ and ‘standardized’ your interviews are, but they
remain the quintessence of subjective selection. That is the purpose
of interviews. They are effectively a mechanism to allow people to
form a personal opinion on a candidate. And exercise bias. 

Adelaideu

On
a background of the inherent socialist tendencies of education at
both secondary and tertiary level, the reforms to selection have
outright enabled the medical schools to pursue a political agenda
that aims to expand the role of government in healthcare, involve
medicine into a nexus of government social equality agendas and
further the promotion of minority special interests to any particular
degree. This is the definition of long-marching.


Wollong

The
results of these efforts are now coming to fruition. Medicine is
becoming overtaken by special interest group after special interest
group, all vying to dictate the rules of medical practice and
employment, values and principles in an ever growing mountain of
elitist control. The effects of this can be seen via organizations
such as the Australian Medical Students Association, the Post
Graduate Medical Council of Victoria and even the Medical Journal of
Australia and the Australian Medical Association; a nexus of
bureaucratic woe:

Amsa

Footnote III – http://www.amsa.org.au

These
organizations are replete with bureaucratic choke holds and
indecisive post modern ‘collaboration tactics. The result,
obviously, is what we have seen under Kevin Rudd: Power from the
people to their overlords in an ever growing unholy alliance of
bureaucrats, red tape and pathetic backyard politicians who would
rather do anything to promote themselves rather than a good idea. It
promotes ‘sellout politics’ and betrays the individuals who
together make medicine what it is and what gives individuals the
right to be free in this country. 
So
long as this framework persists, doctors will be worse off and
patients will be worse off. 

 At
the moment, the AMA can be proud of the leadership it has had.
Brendan Nelson went on to become Liberal Party Leader. Rosanna
Capolingua was clearly Liberal, Michael Wooldridge kept General
Practice sustainable and independent. Steve Hambleton, current AMA
leader, stands for sensible restraint and genuinely aims to protect
autonomy for doctors. We have been lucky. But I am not so sure about
our future. Just look at what the ever growing Australian Medical
Association calls for on Climate Change:

Amsa2

Footnote IV – http://www.amsa.org.au/press-release/20120703-amsa-calls-for-leadership-on-climate-change/
  • Australian
    Medical Student Association


    Health-climate-change

    Footnote V – Australian Medical Students 2010 Policy Document Climate Change and Health see website http://www.amsa.org.au
  • The
    Australian Medical Association’s is little better than the student
    body in this regard:
     
Ama

Footnote VI – http://ama.com.au/node/4442

I
think I have made my case. 
If
anybody in the Coalition did have a silver bullet to stop the long
march, they’d immediately be preselected for a golden safe seat. I
am not that man.

However,
if we were to theoretically look at reversing the political bias
pressuring medicine in Australia, I would start with reforms that
target medical selection, medical training, the de-bureaucratisation
of medical registration at the junior level and aim to move the
governance of medical training away from University bureaucrats and
elitist back to grassroots doctor groups.

This
would help. 
There
is an argument for such change on the basis that it restores
efficiency and principles of autonomy to the medical profession and
by extension of that, to patients. It would be one hell of an effort,
but I honestly do not believe it to be beyond an Abbott government to
achieve in some capacity.

The
other issues are perennial for Liberals; especially for those of us
who have campaigned on campus. The fight against bureaucrats, against
elitists and to genuinely reform education in this country in the way
that David Cameron is trying in England. Perhaps some of the above
changes could be caught up in a commission of audit. I would like to
see that. But I don’t know. I am not a politician.

Conclusion

As
a doctor, I naturally bring more of a background of social sciences
and welfare to the Liberal table than I do tax reform and economics.

However, there is a need for a Liberal establishment to take note of
the direction of health reform that the Roxon and Plibersek ministry
has imposed on health and a need to identify them as inefficient,
retrograde, centralist and to be removed as needed. Equally important
is the message I would like to impart about the need to think about
what is needed to prevent the medical establishment being long
marched into foot soldiers for the ALP.

Just
remember, health accounts for 12-17% of spending and employs 11% of
all Australians. That is one hell of a voter base to lose to the
left.

Peter
Dutton has a lot to contribute to health in the next Liberal
Government. Autonomy, efficiency and restraint will serve our country
well. Similarly, I encourage young Liberals in rising positions of
leadership to consider the principles of a sound health system as
they develop their policy directions.

The electorate expect a good
health system and we have no excuse for leaving ourselves weak on
this front from a simple lack of knowledge.

Dr
Grant N Ross MBBS B.Med Sci is a medical practitioner and graduate of
Melbourne University.

 

Footnotes

Footnote
I – The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law came into effect
in 2010. Whilst it was a COAG agreement, AHPRA was a cornerstone
commitment of Labor and driven largely by their political agenda and
under mostly government influence.

Footnote
II –
http://www.ahpra.gov.au/
accessed
6/11/2012

Footnote
III –
http://www.amsa.org.au/
see About AMSA accessed 6/11/2012

Footnote
IV –
http://www.amsa.org.au/press-release/20120703-amsa-calls-for-leadership-on-climate-change/

Footnote
V – Australian Medical Students 2010 Policy Document Climate Change
and Health see website
www.amsa.org.au

Footnote
VI –
http://ama.com.au/node/4442


Israel – Palestine – who should live where

Lev

Who are the rightful land owners and who shall live where is an argument that has stagnated in the Middle East for decades with heads of major Western powers achieving little via peace talks.

Lev Cherkasski has recently toured the region and writes on matters not generally covered in foreign, mainstream media. GC.Ed.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has stopped short of accusing Israel of war crimes following a six-month inquiry into settlement activity in the West Bank. The report found that Israel is pursuing a policy of annexing the Palestinian territories through its policy of settlement expansion, thereby further complicating the creation of a viable future Palestinian state. Asked directly whether or not Israel had committed war crimes, Christine Chanet, one of the authors of the damning report, replied that “its offences fell under Article 8 of the International Criminal Court [‘ICC’] statute. Article 8 of the ICC statute is the chapter of war crimes. That is the answer”.  For a body whose sole purpose for existence appears to be bashing Israel, the report has lived up to the expectations of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

To put things into perspective, it is often claimed that Israeli settlements violate international law and their mere existence puts into threat the likelihood of a future Palestinian state. These facts alone might lead the casual observer to take them at face value. What is very often forgotten however, is that Israel has previously offered to dismantle settlements in the West Bank in the event of a future peace deal. Having set the precedent for this in the Sinai withdrawal in 1979 and the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Israel has proven to be a credible partner for peace when it comes to genuine negotiations and compromise.

Going back even further to 1967, Israel had just dealt a fatal blow to the Arab world with its victory in the six-day-war and emerged as a country three times its former size. Israel had no intention of keeping the newly conquered territory and offered a land for peace deal, the first of many since. Israel offered all occupied land in exchange for peace and recognition of the Jewish state. Instead, Israel was given the Khartoum Resolution, the diplomatic equivalent of a one finger salute. Whilst calling for economic assistance to Egypt and Jordan and ending the Arab oil boycott, the Arab League also resolved on the third paragraph of the resolution. “The Three No’s”. No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it. From here, we can draw the effective protracted stalemate of the last 46 years.

The modern history of the West Bank really should be drawn from this point. Up until 1967, the region today known as ‘the West Bank’ was sovereign Jordanian territory and subjected to Jordanian law. This area has been under Israeli occupation ever since and, justly, subject to the Geneva Conventions. The relationship between Jordan, The West Bank and the Palestinian people is a little known or explored aspect of Middle Eastern history. Today, Palestinian refugees make up 31% of the Jordanian population. Once you take into account Jordanians of Palestinian decent, this figure jumps to approximately 70% of the population. Further, up until 1988, the Jordanian lower house of Parliament was predominantly made up of constituencies from the West Bank and all residents were entitled to Jordanian citizenship. 

Throughout the 1970’s, the PLO under Yasser Arafat were the de-facto government in parts of Jordan and consequently the country of origin for many PLO terror attacks. King Hussein decided enough was enough and the time was ripe to rid his country of terrorists. In the course of effective secret operations, Jordan carried out assassinations of key PLO leaders and ultimately forced the PLO out of Jordan and into Lebanon which to this day carries the scars of this infiltration.

Whilst the extremist PLO was successfully forced out of Jordan, their claims to the West Bank along with their close co-operation with their Palestinian brethren were still very warm indeed. The relationship started to cool in 1974, when the Arab League anointed the PLO as the official representative body for the Palestinian people, thereby diluting King Hussein’s charge that he spoke for the Palestinian people. The disenfranchisement culminated in July 1988 when Jordan officially dissolved its lower house of parliament along with all representatives from the West Bank and renounced any claim to the land or it’s people. The official intention of this move was to cede this territory for the creation of a future Palestinian State, a State which neither the PLO, nor Fatah, Hamas, The Al-Aqsa Martyr’s brigade, the Palestinian’s Freedom Liberation Front or any other attempted Palestinian administration has been able to bring to fruition.

Israel has suddenly been left ‘occupying’ land which was no longer subject to sovereignty claims from any recognised government or representative body. Land which served as a festering ground for brutal terrorist activity of the first and second intifada and everything in between. In order to pander to domestic political interests as would be expected in any pluralistic democracy, yes, Israel pursued, and to an extent continues to pursue a program of settling these lands. However, as already highlighted, history shows that in the interests of peace, Israel is willing and most certainly able to dismantle settlements and forcibly evict its own citizen’s from land which strictly speaking is no longer subject to anyone’s charge.

Yet in spite of the legal protections enjoyed by all Israeli citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, in spite of the stringent rules of conduct employed by the Israeli defence Forces and the transparency with which they operate, despite Israel being a genuine pluralistic constitutional democracy subjected to the checks and balances we in the west take for granted, the UN continues to bash Israel unashamedly whilst turning a blind eye to true criminals and violators of human rights. Below is a graph which most certainly doesn’t get circulated enough. 

Motions passed by the UNHRC broken down by member state 2003-2012

Levpic2

Should you choose to subscribe to perpetual infallibility of the UN then you will forgive the United Nations for effectively turning a blind eye to places like Somalia, where there is no law to speak of, Iran, where the President slaughtered people in the street to quell unrest following an unfavourable election result and Sudan, which although ranking second is still polling at just over a third of motions held on Israel. So while Israel is guilty of ‘expanding settlements’, Sudan slaughter’s its own people and pursues an active policy of female genital mutilation. Yet again, the world chooses to turn a blind eye and continues to condemn Israel for pursuing the most basic of national interests: the desire for meaningful and lasting peace.

Lev Cherkasski is a recent Monash Arts/Commerce graduate, current executive member of the Victorian Young Liberals and has recently returned from a trip through Israel. 

Making the Speaker truly independent

Travers-headshot

Jeremy Travers has explained what most people don't know. The role of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Fair play would dictate that the speaker be impartial. However, fair play is totally ignored in this matter.

When people visit the public galleries at the House of Representatives, watch Parliament online or listen to it on the radio, they instantly notice the Speaker sitting in the Chair. The person that the House has entrusted to uphold the standing orders of his or her own volition. The most common comparison that I hear is that the Speaker is ‘akin to a rugby league referee’. The Speaker determines who will speak, whether or not motions or questions without notice are in order and is charged with the responsibility of protecting the rights and privileges of all Members of Parliament.

However, since the 2010 general election, the public are expecting that the Speaker actually be independent. They expect the Speaker to be impartial.

Sadly, in Australia, we have a tendency to treat the Speakership like some sort of political prize. Apart from six occasions, the Speaker has always been a member of the governing party. Several occupants of the Chair have a reputation in history for being too biased against their own side or being intimidated by their own side.

Sol Rosevear, Speaker during the Curtin and Chifley Governments, was known to be drunk in the Chair and lacked consistency in his rulings. In 1975, Jim Cope resigned as Speaker after the Whitlam Government failed to support him after he had named Immigration Minister Clyde Cameron (a disciplinary action that requires the House to take action to suspend a member) for saying that he did not “give a damn” what the Speaker thought.

There is a solution to that: make the Speaker truly independent.

It is not well known by the Australian public that our first Speaker, Sir Frederick Holder, resigned from his party upon becoming Speaker. He also contested two general elections as an independent, and as Speaker, remained aloof from party politics. When he died in 1909 (from a cerebral haemorrhage after collapsing on the floor of the House during committee), that independence was not seen again.

Sir Billy Snedden, Speaker during the period of the Fraser Government, was well known for his preference for an independent Speaker, similar to the Speaker of the House of Commons at Westminster. In 1979, he distributed a paper to all Members of Parliament where he advocated for the conventions to be adopted. 

In short he recommended that the parties should meet and agree on a candidate, candidates for the Speakership should agree to resign from their party if successful, the Speaker should hold office for five to seven years (even if there is a change of government), the Speaker should stand unopposed by the major parties at general elections and that when the Speaker leaves the Chair, he or she leaves the House.

Both the Liberal and Labor parties rejected Sir Billy’s proposals.

John Howard had promised to give the Speaker the same independence as his or colleague at Westminster during one of his Headland Speeches in 1995. This did not happen. During the period of the Howard Government, in which the House of Representatives had four Speakers, three were former party whips (Bob Halverson, Neil Andrew and David Hawker) and one served as Leader of the House and a Minister during the Fraser Government (Ian Sinclair). 

To their credit, Simon Crean and Mark Latham both proposed a system where the House would rotate between Labor and Coalition Speakers. Under their proposals, from 2002 and 2004 respectively, the Prime Minister would nominate the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition wold nominate the Deputy Speaker. After two terms, the two would swap positions. 

I see two problems with that. The first is that the proposal only permits members of the Coalition or Labor to put their hands up. In a time where there are more members from minor parties and who are independents, I believe that they should have a chance to put their hand up for the Speakership. The other is that the Speaker, upon completing the two terms, is not compelled to leave the House upon leaving the Chair. This is a fundamental violation of the Westminster convention.

You may read this and think that Australia already has conventions for Speaker and that it is the duty of the Government to provide the Speaker. In my honest opinion, that is part of the problem. The Government provides the Speaker and, in one way or another, expects the Speaker to be ‘politically reliable’.

House of Representatives Practice, the text of procedure and practice, says that a Speaker should “give a completely objective interpretation of standing orders and precedents, and should give the same reprimand for the same offence whether the Member is of the Government or the Opposition”.

I contend that the only way to achieve that objective interpretation and for members to receive equal reprimands for the same offence is for the House to adopt Sir Billy Snedden’s proposals and to make the Speaker truly independent, accountable to the House as a whole and not to the majority.

Jeremy Travers, a former NSW parliamentary officer, is currently a member of the Campbelltown Young Liberals and studying at Campbelltown TAFE. He can be found on Twitter @JeremyTravers.

In response to Byron Hodkinson – there is talent in the youth of Australian politics

Sandy Tanner Sandy Tanner argues that there is an abundance of talent in youth politics.

Byron has a glass half empty approach to youth politics in Australia, and with no good reason.


There is no doubt that the class of 1989 was a talented political class indeed. Gerry Wheeler has made a great contribution to the Liberal cause in Australia, not least through his work on the successful 1996 election campaign, which tapped into the mood of nation and swept away thirteen disastrous years of Labor rule.  As for Mr Smith and Senator Payne, I can only agree with Byron that they continue to make a significant contribution to Australian politics. 

That year being a year of talented political class is not evidence of a later decline.  Not even 1988 or 1990 can claim the same record as 1989!  It is easy to rebut the claim of a decline with a number of recent examples of youth political talent in the Liberal side of Australian politics. So what can be said of the current generation?


Alex Hawke MP, the Federal Member for Mitchell, is one example of the talent that we see in the current generation of political youth.  He was both a NSW and National Young Liberal President and fought a highly contested preselection to be endorsed as the Liberal candidate for Mitchell in 2007.  During his time as NSW Young Liberal President he led a movement with a professional campaigning ability and a substantial policy and philosophical agenda.


At 26 Alistair Coe MLA is the youngest Member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, having been elected in 2008.  Alistair ran a successful election campaign in just over five weeks after the sudden retirement of the sitting member for the seat.  With a dedicated and hard working team behind him, mostly Young Liberals, Alistair polled as the top Liberal in the multi-member seat.  He is a former Vice-President of the Young Liberal Movement of Australia. Julian Barendse and Rohan D’Souza led the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation to its most crowning achievement – the introduction of VSU.  Julian, Rohan and the ALSF team campaigned in Canberra and around the country to highlight the importance of implementing VSU, in full.  As we all know, in 2005 the VSU Act was passed and in 2006 Australian students were no longer paying compulsory student fees for services or political representation they didn’t want or need.


Amongst other members of this generation of young activists since 2000 are John Gardner (Member for Morialta, SA Parliament), Andrew Constance (Member for Bega, NSW Parliament), Natasha MacLaren-Jones (preselected for NSW upper house), and Zed Seselja MLA (Leader of the Opposition in the ACT Assembly).


ACT Young Liberals, for example, are already working hard at planning and working on the campaign for the key seat of Eden-Monaro in key management roles.


These are all real examples of the talent of Australian political youth today.  There are too many talented individuals that have come through our ranks since 1989 to mention separately here.  It will have to suffice to say that many who are in the Young Liberal or Liberal Students have held high level staffing and campaign positions, have highly developed political skills and think in philosophical terms about the direction of the Liberal Party. 


We can not judge Young Liberals solely on whether they are involved in public life or not.We need to see conservatives in all facets of society, including business, higher education, and other institutions.  Prominent Young Liberals of the current generation who are working in business include Noel McCoy, Nat Smith, Mark Powell, and Michael Van Dissel.


There are opportunities to develop your political skills throughout the party.  Politics is what you make of it. With programs like the Centre for Independent Studies Liberty & Society Program, the conferences of many think-tanks around the country, Menzies Research Centre programs, Young Liberal Electoral Development Officer programs, and international internships, in addition to mainstream party activities there are huge opportunities for young people involved in politics today.


Young Liberals are involved in campaigns right across the country at a serious level.  For very few people politics is like The West Wing. All politics is local and without the time devoted by our volunteers to street stalling, letterboxing, door knocking and election day activities there is little point to the high level training that Byron speaks of.


Kelly O’Dwyer, the newly elected Member for Higgins, explained how important local issues are in her Maiden Speech to Parliament on Monday, 8 February 2010:

It is tempting for Federal politicians to say that local issues are not ‘our issues’. I do not accept that. I will continue to campaign to help those crying out for better community safety through closed circuit television cameras in Prahran and more police in Ashburton. With my community, I will continue to fight State Labor’s flawed planning policies which are damaging the character of our area.

In short, I will be an advocate for the people of Higgins, on local issues as well as national ones.

All party members, regardless of age, should be involved in grass-roots politics.  Politics is about connecting with people on issues that impact them, and there is no better way of doing this that meeting them. All other techniques of campaigning either support this or substitute for it if it is not possible. 

There is reason to be optimistic, not pessimistic, about youth involvement in Australian politics.  Young Australians are becoming more professional earlier in life and making substantial contributions to the Liberal cause.


The glass is most definitely half full, or even fuller.  Come and talk to me in twenty to thirty years time and I’m sure we’ll be talking about even more MPs, Senators, staffers, and senior political operatives that were all part of this young generation. 


Sandy Tanner is the Federal Vice-President of the Australian Young Liberals, and President of the ACT Young Liberals. He has worked as an adviser to Federal Liberal MPs and ACT Liberal MLAs.


PS I should mention that I am unsure of the relevance that the singing of God Save the Queen has to the thrust of Byron’s argument.  I have it on good authority that God Save the Queen was sung with great gusto at the convention of 1989!

It’s the delivery, stupid

Richard Wilson An education policy that can't be delivered isn't worth the paper it's written on, argues Richard Wilson.

The best unit I ever completed at university was called 'Social Policy
Implementation'. The lecturer had been a Deputy Secretary of various
Australian Government departments and had received his PhD from the
LSE. He had seen every approach to public administration since
Whitlam. He knew his stuff. 

His favourite parable to illustrate the importance of implementation
in the policy process was the story of the owl and the mouse. The
mouse, faced with the constant threat posed by other animals in the
forest, asked the owl how he could avoid being eaten. 

The wise old owl, known as the smartest animal in the forest, replied
that the best way would be to join him atop one of the branches of the
many trees high above the forest floor. 

The mouse saw the wisdom of the owl's thinking, and over the next few
days proceeded to try everything he could think of to get to the lofty
branch. He clawed, jumped and climbed his way up the tree, but never
got very far before falling back to the ground. 

Weary and beaten, the mouse finally asked the owl how he could get up
to the branch. The owl replied that he was just the policy person,
and didn't concern himself with implementation. 

Moral of the story: it is not enough just to say that every child will
get a laptop, or the number of training colleges should be increased,
or more science teachers with adequate qualifications should be found.
The real value is in actually delivering on those promises. 

Sadly, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard don't seem to realise this.
Questioning in this week's Senate Estimates revealed that while the
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR)
had previously expected fifteen Trade Training Centres in Schools to
be built by January 2010, only four have been completed (and only one
of these is operational). Not a good start when you're trying to roll
out 2,650 of them over the forward estimates. 

Similarly, the Government's much vaunted Computers in Schools
programme has only delivered about one in seven of the laptops they
promised, with the programme due to expire in less than a year and a
half. If you can only roll out 150,000 laptops in over two years, how
are you going to get 900,000 out in less than one-and-a-half? 

The neglect of implementation considerations go further, with the
promise to deliver the computers unaccompanied by any thought of the
extra costs it would impose on parents (which are substantial),
whether relying on computers in classrooms is desirable (experts say
it isn't), or if the benefits outweigh these costs (no analysis was
ever conducted). 

Rudd and Gillard clearly have no idea how to deliver on their  'Education Revolution' promises. If they did, surely some of their
promises would have been implemented by now? 

Richard Wilson is the Federal President of the Young Liberal Movement
of Australia. He holds a BA(Hons) from UWA and an MPubPol from ANU.
The Young Liberal Movement will be highlighting more of Kevin Rudd's
broken promises in the lead up to the Federal Election.