Friday 8 February 2013

No slippery slopes

Here's public health advocate Michael Daube on Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon's legacy.
There is always more to do in prevention, and public health advocates will always press for more action to reduce unnecessary deaths and ill health. The Prevention Taskforce report provides an evidence-based blueprint for action on alcohol and obesity, as it did for tobacco: there is now a clear basis for action by governments and advocacy by the public health community. The alcohol and junk food industries are as powerful as tobacco (maybe even more), and there is great need for action in these areas as in others. But a realistic assessment must recognise that, especially in a minority government, there is a limit to the number of hard targets any Minister can take on at once.

Nicola Roxon’s prevention legacy is secure. She put prevention on the map, provided legislation and funding, led the world in tobacco control, took on and defeated Big Tobacco as both Health Minister and Attorney General, and developed the roadmap for action on alcohol and obesity. She can take pride in her record, and we can take pride in a Minister who achieved so much for public health.
There's no slippery slope, there's no slippery slope...there's always more to do and there will always be more action and we can only take on targets one at a time. Indeed.

And I would bet against the incoming Coalition government's* rescinding anything she's done. She's built a new quango to permanently advocate for stronger public health interventions, and conservative governments  never seem bright enough to destroy these agencies when they take office. And so we must offer her congratulations. She has very effectively moved policy in her preferred direction and embedded institutions that will keep it on that track for a rather long time.

* Yeah, yeah, the election hasn't happened yet. But look at the betting odds, or at least until Xenophon gets them banned in Oz. My hope: Labor gets demolished but Andrew Leigh survives to rebuild the party in his image, Leigh's Labor comes close to winning in the next election in a surprise, then takes office.


  1. Andrew Leigh *should* be safe. He had a 14% margin at the last election, making him Labor's 13th safest member.

  2. The aim of the Left during it's their turn in power must always be to install 'sticky' programmes. So Labour did that with WFF and interest free student loans, to name a couple, and the current government, while burning countless calories gnashing their teeth at the economic and financial stupidity of these policies, cannot bring themselves to reverse them.

    The siren call of power reigns supreme!

    As for Australians, well, do even they really deserve Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey? Just glancing at the Trading Economics stats we have UE at 5.4%, growth at 3.1% annually and government spending as a fraction of GDP falling for the last three years, the last two by over 4% in each.

    Going by the polls, Labour is dog tucker, but going by the stats, for Australians, it may well be a spectacular own goal!