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Super Saturday for health

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The big message from the Super Saturday by-elections is that health remains one of the biggest, if not the biggest, issue on the minds of voters, and will once again be a critical factor in the next Federal election, expected in the first half of 2019.

Labor, which retained the seats of Perth, Fremantle, Longman, and Braddon, – with Mayo being retained by the Centre Alliance’s Rebekah Sharkie – campaigned hard with a local focus on public hospital funding and access to health services.

There is a strong theory in Canberra circles that the controversy around the My Health Record further undermined the Coalition’s health policy credentials.

Writing in The New Daily, political commentator, Paula Matthewson, a former adviser to PM John Howard, said that “… the lesson is that health is more important to more voters than almost any other issue, including the economy. Get health policy wrong and you risk throwing away the election”.

Matthewson said that Labor’s ‘Hospitals, not Banks’ slogan ranked in effectiveness with Labor’s 2016 Mediscare campaign to focus voters’ minds on health policy.

The Federal AMA is already putting together its health policy manifesto for the next election. General practice reform, public hospital funding, private health insurance, the MBS Review, the My Health Record, and medical workforce will feature prominently.