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Greg Hunt announces an intention to develop a strategy

When it comes to health policy, you really have to hand it to the Coalition. Literally. Because they don’t seem to have a clue how to devise one.

With great fanfare, Greg Hunt has announced the Coalition’s newfound interest in preventive health.

“Whether it’s drugs and alcohol, whether it’s the work in relation to diet, whether it’s other elements, we are developing, with you, a long-term national preventive health strategy,” he told a conference on Wednesday.

He doesn’t have a plan as such, just an intention to develop one.

Which goes against everything they have done over the last decade.

In opposition, Tony Abbott fought against plain-packaging for tobacco. Franking credits crusader (aka Freedom boy) Tim Wilson wrote about it at length during his time at the IPA.

Peter Dutton, when opposition health spokesman, opposed the increase in taxation on alcopops calling the bill nothing more than a “tax grab”.

Fiona Nash, as assistant health minister, controversially chose to shut down a Health Star Rating site for foods. It was later reinstated.

In the 2014-15 Budget, the government abolished the Australian National Preventative Health Agency (ANPHA) which, coupled with its decision to cease the National Partnership Agreement for Preventative Health, showed a blatant disregard for the importance of this sector.

The functions of the ANPHA were to act as a clearinghouse for information about preventive programs that work, to foster research and the trial of new ideas, to promote the use of social marketing and social media as ways of communicating preventive messages to the community (modern-day Grim Reapers for example) and advocating nationally for changes that need to be made nationally, say to food, and that cannot be done at state level.

The government also announced cuts of A$130 million over five years to the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program.

In 2017, when a coalition of 34 organisations, led by the Obesity Policy Coalition and Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre, and including the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne and the Cancer Council, called for a 20% tax on sugary drinks, Malcolm Turnbull rejected the idea.

“I think we have enough taxes and there are enough imposts on us all when we go to the supermarket and we go shopping,” Turnbull said. “The other thing is, too, where do you draw the line? There is a lot of sugar in a bottle of orange juice. Are you going to put a tax on that?”

It should be noted that Labor also rejected the idea.

Despite primary health care being much cheaper than hospital care, the Coalition have been attacking it from the word go – proposing GP co-payments, freezing the Medicare rebate, closing Medicare Locals, removing bulk-billing incentives for diagnostic imaging and pathology and more.

Scott Morrison wants to make mental health and suicide prevention priorities but he was part of the government who, immediately on taking office, repealed gambling reform laws despite the evidence showing hundreds of gambling-related suicides each year.

Many successful prevention and early intervention programs were defunded and services shut down.

Excuse my cynicism if the best they can do, after six years in office, is to announce an intention to develop a strategy.

Well done you, Greg. Get back to me when you have some results because what you have delivered so far does not fill me with hope.


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  1. Aortic

    Shame Labor lost as Brian Owler could then have been Health Minister. A doctor who has not only practiced but an effective administrator as well. Good grief, what will they think of next.

  2. New England Cocky

    Now KL, you are being optimistic when you think that the Liarbrals are going to attempt anything as complicated as “forming a policy”. If there is a policy developed by a government then there is also the responsibility to make that policy work with the policy maker held responsible for any short-comings. And there is the rub!! Never form a policy when you can be held responsible in the event that it fails to produce the desired outcomes!! (Second Rule of Bureaucrats).

    Rather, remember the Howard “Bluff Statements” supporting middle class aspirations, made when the Liarbrals were about to fall off the cliff into political oblivion until the lies of “Children Overboard” were perpetrated.

  3. Keitha Granville

    Yes Minister would be so proud – do you think they read through the scripts for ideas?

  4. wam

    hunt is sham he is not a denier yet has to support deniers and direct action. Outside a talker, a wikilooker but inside a frightened man, such men will put in so much busy work as to appear successful but in reality they know they are ‘nothing’.
    The fear comes from the thought of being discovered.
    Bowen may present a threat to his exposure?

  5. David Evans

    Useless hunt. Bit surprised though that he wasn’t holding a chrome plated shovel when he made this announcement? Oh well, it’s a direct action with a green army of health workers now then? Reverse auctions too I suppose hunt? How this idiot ever got to be reelected just shows how low the standard of peoples representatives in this country has become. The bloke is a Wikipedia scholar. Man (?) with a plan indeed.

  6. Artemis

    Man without a plan, wants a plan, doesn’t know how to plan a plan, his plan is not likely to be a plan unless someone else plans the plan, for his plan, which might then become a plan.

  7. Zathras

    Silly me, I presumed that after all those years in power the Government would have a clue about health policy but I suppose Hunt’s now frantically checking Wikipedia to see what needs to be done.

    Here’s a free kick for Albo to expose their confessed inadequacy if he’s willing to take the opportunity.

    As the echoes of Hawke’s Memorial and his achievements fade away the Coalition stands further exposed as the visionless and incompetent sham they really are.

  8. Frank Smith

    Me thinks the Ghunt will develop a “Direct Action” strategy to cure all health problems. After all it has worked so well for reducing our carbon emissions.

  9. whatever

    Before Trump happened there was the TeaParty, the fake grassroots revolution of the proudly stupid and uneducated.
    Have a look at the misery inflicted upon Kansas by TeaParty governor Brownback.
    What has triumphed in Australian politics is the TeaParty folksy far-right populists.

  10. Henry Rodrigues

    Worse than being a sham, like when he was environment minister, he is the probably the most unashamed hypocrite who jettisoned everything he believed in when Abbott raised him to the front bench and immediately went to work demolishing his own long held beliefs. This Ghunt is now going to do to the health portfolio what he did to the environment portfolio. The paucity of talent in this rotten government is there for public viewing

  11. Bronte ALLAN

    WTF?? What else could we expect from yet another bloody incompetent, lying, obscenely over-paid, so-called COALition member?

  12. Bob Parker

    Sadly the LNP know nothing about making policies after decades of having them handed to them by the IPA and Murdoch Press.

  13. Go Nads

    The perfect minister out of Yes Minister.

  14. Robert Parr

    Obviously none of these commenters have lived in SA to see how Labor with their Transforming Health have created chaos. The LNP is slowly fixing it and stopping the waste. The LNP aren’t perfect either because they listen to beauracrats.

  15. Kaye Lee


    The federal government slashing $600 million from the SA health funding would not have helped.

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