Raising the BARR – Week ending 17 May 2019

Raising the Barr

Imagine Our Country Without Medicare?

Last week, Bob Hawke passed away.  Reading the many tributes and lists of achievements I was reminded about the historic path of our wonderful scheme called Medicare.  And given that you will be reading this column post-election (Federal), I have no fear in being accused of bias for political outcome.

You may recall a Labor Prime Minister, a fellow called Gough Whitlam and his introduction of a universal health care scheme called Medibank in 1975.  The idea of Medibank was that every Australian citizen would have access to free medical treatment.

After the dismissal of this Whitlam bloke, there was a new fellow in charge, a Liberal Prime Minister called Malcolm Fraser.  Malcolm decided, in 1976, that only the people who could pay for Medibank should be able to access health care funded and covered by Medibank.

So up until 1975 and after 1976, medical treatment was not free and accessible for all Australians.  It is a hard world to imagine for a person my age.  I was born in 1971 and for the great majority of life I have been able to access medical services without fear of the treatment(s) sending me bankrupt.

Then, in 1983, a new Labor Government was elected and this bloke called Bob Hawke liked the idea that Australia would make sure that all Australians could access free universal health care.  He liked what Gough had started and disliked the fact that Malcolm had torn it apart.

So this Bob Hawke fellow set up a universal medical health care scheme called Medicare.  And given that Labor won the next 5 elections, Medicare became deeply and firmly entrenched in our society prior to the next Liberal Government coming along.

Could you imagine us not having Medicare in our society?  Could you imagine not being able to access a doctor or a hospital unless you had the money to pay for it (as happens in America and many other countries)?

Medicare is not a perfect system but it does provide Australia with a universal health care scheme that is one of the world’s best.  For what it’s worth, I reckon that these blokes called Gough and Bob and the Labor Party did something pretty good for Australia.  And for those that don’t agree, I look forward to seeing you take to the streets to march and protest against Medicare.