Playing at being an equal player. Call me old-fashioned or just old if you like; I cannot remember an occasion in my 50 plus years as a journalist when I called a politician by his first name during a public interview.

Whether I knew the person well or not (and over the years I actually became friendly with many of them) it was always “Prime Minister” or “Minister” or “Leader” or “Sir” or “Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms” when I was the reporter and they the politician. It was not so much out of any sense of respect but rather an acceptance that they were the news makers and I but the recorder.

The extent to which things have changed, to a relationship where the journalist assumes he or she has an importance and influence at least equal to that of the politician, was brought home to me last night as I watched that interview on the Seven Network where Seven News reporter Mark Riley challenged Tony Abbott about remarks he was captured making while talking to a military commander in Afghanistan.

In response to silence from the Opposition Leader journalist Riley was moved to say: “You are not saying anything, Tony.”

Tony! An arrogant familiarity from the a rude would-be star!

My views on the incident remain unchanged from those I posted on The Stump last night.

The comment of the day. From that same blog by Bogdanovist:

Tony Abbott is many things, many of them which I don’t like, but on this one the journo is 100% in the wrong. There is no way that Tony was ‘trivialising’ the diggers death, or any of the other nonsense things some bored hack has tried to misconstrue out of this.

It speaks to a larger problem with political journalism in this country (and probably others?) that is forever in the pursuit of the golden ‘gaff’ rather than dealing with anything of substance. No wonder politicians are now 99% sales and 1% (if we’re lucky) management.

Visiting our GP. An interesting snapshot of Australians and their relationship with medical practitioners was released this morning by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Almost four out of five of us, it seems, visit a GP at least once a year although in 2009, approximately 1.1 million Australians aged 15 years or more (6%) delayed seeing or did not see a GP in the previous year because of the cost.

More people in Queensland (8%) and WA (8%) said they had delayed seeing or not seen a GP in the last 12 months because of the cost than people in Tasmania, NSW or SA (all 5.0%). There was no significant difference between people living in more disadvantaged areas and those in less disadvantaged areas, nor was there any particular difference between major cities, inner regional and outer regional/remote areas of Australia.

Whether or not a person had private health insurance had an effect, however, with almost twice as many people without private health insurance reporting cost as a barrier to seeing a GP as people with private health insurance (8% compared with 5%).

People under the age of 45 were more likely to have reported cost as a barrier to seeing a GP than people aged 45 years and over. After the age of 45, finding cost a barrier declined fairly steadily with age. Women were also more likely than men to have found cost a barrier to seeing a GP, which may relate to the fact that a greater proportion of women accessed GP services.

In general, people living in major cities were more likely to have seen a GP (82%) than those living in outer regional or remote areas (78%). Across the States and Territories, people living in the ACT were the most likely to have seen a general practitioner (87%) while people living in the NT (76%) and Victoria (79%) were the least likely.

People who were not born in Australia were a little less likely to have seen a GP than people born in Australia (77% and 82% respectively).

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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