With the bulk of the health budget already in the public domain, last night’s budget speech from Treasurer Joe Hockey was less about new announcements and more about selling the already unpopular measures to the Australian public. Attempting to convince consumers to cough up more for their healthcare is not an easy task, and in spinning the new payments as “opportunity, not austerity”, Hockey brought political performance art to a new level.
Indeed, with his love of a cliched image (“we all need to share the heavy lifting”), the smoke-and-mirrors acts (pay more for GPs but get a cure for cancer!) and a show-stopper of a stunt (the world’s biggest medical research fund!), the Treasurer seemed at times only one bearded transvestite away from a winning Eurovision entry.