The recent budget proved to be only slightly more popular than the Student Services Amenities Fee around MLS – and this may or may not be justified; I will reserve my judgment for the glorious battlefields of Facebook comments. Instead of adding to the all too often quite poisonous and negative atmosphere of the law school, I thought I would perhaps concentrate on one element that we could perhaps all agree is a positive (a scandalous idea I know).
This silver lining, as I perceive it, is the establishment of the $20 billion medical research “future fund”. Alas, the long lasting and far-reaching benefits of this fund appear to have been drowned out by the outcry against its method of collection, namely the $7 co-pay to be introduced for visits to the doctor. In my opinion, this response is unjustified. As a taxpayer that earns less than $22k a year, if anyone should be complaining it should be me, but I am not. Seven dollars is not a large sum of money in anyone’s book and cannot seriously be seen as an impediment to anyone’s access to health care. It may make people think twice about going, but when the average Australian goes to the doctor eleven times a year, perhaps this isn’t such a bad thing. But I digress, back to the positives.
It is no news flash that the mining boom in Australia has passed its peak, and that basic manufacturing in this country has been all but confined to the history books. So where will our future prosperity come from? There have been several options touted – the strongest two of which, in my humble opinion, are agriculture and biomedicine. Indeed, Australia is well positioned to become the food bowl of Asia and the industry has received strong investment interest from both domestic and international markets – so much so that is has pretty well been consolidated as far as is feasible. The biomedical industry, on the other hand, while being a world-wide leader in many respects, remains comparatively dispersed and speculative – with few entities above the $50 million mark. Strong domestic investment in this sector makes an enormous amount of sense. Not only would it create thousands of jobs in both research and manufacturing, but would bring with it the myriad benefits to society as whole through medical advancement. In short, this fund is a real winner for future Australia.
The cruel irony of all this is that while this policy appears to be both economically sound and of clear benefit to all, it is unlikely to pass due to a combination of Clive Palmer’s kindergarten-level economic knowledge and Labor’s lack of courage. This case, I believe, illustrates that the debate of the budget is far too concentrated around party lines and the politicians involved, without real assessment of the actual possible merit of any its policies. In the words of Richard Armour, “Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong.”
William Davidson is a 3rd year JD student and the current LSS Treasurer.