Monday 20th June 2016 - 6:19 pm

Shorten startles Turnbull

by Alan Thornhill

Analysis

For the first time in the present election campaign, Bill Shorten appears to have seized the initiative.

He did that on Sunday, when he declared that the vote July 2 would be “a referendum on Medicare.”

In doing so, he greatly increased his chances of becoming Prime Minister.

But he still has to win 21 seats to do that.

The Prime Minster’s response, to this challenge from the Opposition Leader, was to say – very forcefully – that it was based on “a lie.”

Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Sydney today that Labor had been ringing older people  in the evening, saying “Medicare is going to be sold off.

“Medicare will be privatised.

” This is the biggest lie of the campaign.”

“I want to be very clear. Medicare will never ever be privatised,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Every element of Medicare services that is currently being delivered by government will continue to be delivered by government. Full stop,”  Mr Turnbull said.

Labor strategists remained  cool, saying simply that their charges are “biting.”

A reporter had asked Mr Turnbull why voters should accept his  latest promises  on Medicare when his predecessor,  Tony Abbott, had not kept his.

The Medicare debate has caught fire, among voters.

Reports in Fairfax newspapers today help to explain why.

The headline on one, in The Sydney Morning Herald, says: ‘Narcissistic’ surgeons charge cancer patients exorbitant out-of-pocket costs without disclosing

alternatives .”

It quotes chief executive of Cancer Council Australia, Sanchia Aranda, saying : “the most brazen example was robotic surgery for prostate cancer.”

She said these cases attracted out-of-pocket fees of between $15,000 to $30,000, even though there is no evidence to suggest robotic surgery offered patients better cancer or functional outcomes than a standard prostatectomy when performed by a surgeon of equal skill.

 

“We know of patients who are mortgaging their houses because they are being led to believe that these flashy new types of procedures are the best way to have their cancer treated,” Professor Aranda added.


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