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Seeing clearly for better health

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New directions in health care will be needed beyond this year’s federal election, with a matching vision of a healthier future from both major contestants

At 2 pm on Monday, 17 June 2013, His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived at Westmead Hospital in Sydney, not as a patient (thank goodness) but as a distinguished guest. Surrounded by a swirl of 10 police escort motorcycles and four security cars worthy of President Jed Bartlet from The West Wing, His Holiness landed and then embraced, smiled at and bestowed long white silk scarves upon the members of his welcoming party.

Security men spoke into tiny microphones at their wrists, and freaked out as the Dalai Lama strode into the waiting crowds. Dozens of cameras clicked as he made his way to the overflowing John Loewenthal Auditorium for a colloquium on current ethical questions — about individual and social responsibility in a world loaded with inequality, about Indigenous health and the interface between politics and health care. In welcoming him, I remarked that I could not imagine gathering an audience of this size to discuss our budget. The audience smiled their agreement and then they listened and questioned.

No doubt the Dalai Lama has his own political agenda. But for an hour on that wintry afternoon, staff who each day commit…