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Health a vote winner

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The Federal Government’s decision to inject almost $3 billion into public hospitals was the most popular measure in the Budget, underlining the high value voters put on health care.

A survey of voters by polling company JWS Research and reported by the Australian Financial Review has found that 75 per cent approved the allocation in the Budget of $2.9 billion over four years to support public hospitals, overshadowing the 72 per cent who welcomed an extra $50 billion for road, rail and water infrastructure and the 65 per cent who approved an extra $840 million for youth employment programs.

The result suggests that Labor is playing to the concerns of a majority of voters with its push to make health a key election battleground, including through its commitment to unfreeze the Medicare patient rebate from January next year.

Highlighting the Government’s failure to get much of a pre-election bounce out of Treasurer Scott Morrison’s first Budget, the survey found that only 17 per cent thought it would be good for them personally, and just 21 per cent said it would be good for the country. Thirty-seven percent thought it would be bad for them, and for the nation.

Pollster John Scales, who oversaw the survey, told the AFR the results showed that the Government’s attempt to sell the Budget as an economic plan, encapsulated in its “jobs and growth” mantra, had failed to resonate with voters.

The Government made company tax cuts the centrepiece of the Budget, arguing that they would boost the economy by encouraging investment and employment.

But Mr Scales told the AFR that although the message had been understood at the “micro level, that’s been missed by the general population. They’re asking what is in it for them, they’re saying, ‘there’s nothing in it for me’.”

Adrian Rollins