The success of ‘Mediscare’ harms the health of our democracy

The success of ‘Mediscare’ harms the health of our democracy, by Stephen Bartholomeusz.

The resounding success of Labor’s “Mediscare” strategy at the weekend raises the disturbing prospect that future elections will become contests determined by which of the political parties can construct the biggest lie of the campaign.

There is little doubt that Labor’s claim that the Coalition planned to privatise Medicare had a significant impact on the outcome of the election. Labor knew it was biting, hence it became the dominant message, almost the only message, within its advertising and social media strategies in the final phase of the campaign.

It was a false, indeed absurd, claim.

The Coalition was considering the outsourcing of the construction and perhaps operation of a new payments platform for Medicare, an option Malcolm Turnbull was forced to abandon, but even the Australian Medical Association declared that describing that as a privatisation of Medicare was “overreach.”

The notion of privatising Medicare, which processes tens of billions of dollars of payments a year, was and is ludicrous. Private investors capitalise income streams, not payments.

It is Adolf Hitler who is credited with having identified the power of the “Big Lie” — the telling of untruths so “colossal” that the “broad masses of a nation” would never imagine that anyone would distort the truth to such an extent.

Even when, as then Coalition tried to do, the lie is exposed and refuted, the doubts and fears it raised can’t be dispelled.