By award-winning* journalist Don Gordon-Brown
Can I once again express my bitter disappointment in The Courier-Mail’s federal political editor Renee Viellaris and the paper’s subeditor?
Let’s start with Renee. I admire her work greatly, but sometimes I think she lacks the killer instinct, a flaw I suspect a certain flaccid-arsed, money and power-hungry, morality-free-zone, increasingly senile Octogenarian Yank in New York is now acutely aware of in his rare moments of lucidity.
A case in point is Renee’s yarn on how awful Bill Shorten’s 2% cap on Medicare private health insurance rises for two years will be for all Australians (pictured) should, heaven forbid, Labor be elected next year.
I’ve got no problem with the sub. He or she is on fire!
A heading and sub-head providing readers with statements of “fact” straight out of an LNP media release. Not claims or allegations, but fair dinkum facts. Not to be argued with, at least not within the pages of The Courier-Mail.
I can almost visualise the Dirty Digger nodding his head in agreement as Gerry feeds the Pacemaker (thank you, Eric Idle!) his pureed evening meal via a funnel and tube shoved up his sad and sorry far-right-wing arse.
Renee is also doing her best, once she got her hot little hands on a “two-page document which is not meant for public release yet deals a significant blow to Labor’s plans”.
Yeah, right. Not meant for public release. My guess is that Renee still believes that all police pursuits are abandoned moments before a fatal crash.
And a “significant blow” to Labor’s plans? The party will probably have to dump the idea now that the secret’s out.
Anyway, let’s hear more on this “secret briefing note” that Catholic Health Australia used to secretly warn its hospital to “prepare for the consequences” of Labor’s 2% private health insurance cap. The policy is “a reason why the future viability of CHA not-for-profit regional hospitals is growing increasingly uncertain”.
Those hospitals are secretly warned they will close services and turn away patients, putting more pressure on public hospitals. And “if hospitals are running at a loss” obstetrics, cancer treatments, dental surgery and other high-cost treatments could be cut.
Renee also looks at Mercy Health that runs hospitals in Rockhampton, Mackay, Bundaberg and Gladstone. Mercy Health cut maternity services at Gladstone on October 1 but it denies it is because of Labor’s plan. Which would make sense, seeing the election is still months away and the 2% cap might come in who knows when.
But Renee is undeterred, citing “credible highly placed sources” saying Mercy has also considered cutting chemotherapy and dental services at all four hospitals because of Labor’s policy. “A spokeswoman denied it was the case,” Renee wrote. After all, what would she know! The Mercy spokeswoman, I mean. Not Renee.
Renee as usual always strives for balance, so the third last par is devoted to Opposition health spokesperson Catherine King admitting Labor was “committed to our plan to impose” the cap. Gotcha!!!!
Then the story comes home with a wet sail and a strong breeze from the right, with Health Minister Greg Hunt agreeing that “the revelations uncovered by The Courier-Mail” showed the Labor plan would “have devastating consequences”.
Let’s read Mr Hunt say that once more in direct quotes: “Small regional hospitals will wear the devastating consequences, putting major pressure on public hospitals, increasing waiting times and reducing patient choice.”
Very good, Renee. But it could have been so much punchier.
There had to be a two-page secret briefing note “which is not meant for public release” out there somewhere that could have gone much further, with dire warnings of a massive drop in life expectancy for all Australians should Shorten take power and wreck both the private and public health systems with his 2% cap. Here’s how your story might have then appeared (pictured right).
For here is your dilemma, Renee. The people have stopped listening to the Happy Clapper and his woeful ministry of blowhards, braggarts, bullies and blowhards. They are headed for a well-deserved and long stay in the political wilderness – unless the Australian public wake up to themselves very quickly.
Headings such as “bad for your health” and “services under threat” won’t cut the mustard any more. The public needs to be shaken out of its lethargy so I urge you to lift your game, girl! Go harder. “Write Right, Write Righter, Write Rightest” must be your mantra in the months ahead as you select the next LNP media release from your in-tray.
So scale that Everest of political bias. Leave Des Houghton struggling for oxygen in base camp. You can do it, Renee. You have a nation to save. Don’t worry about your own reputation as an objective reporter. That vote has long sailed.
Your task is to save Australia from Labor. If it also means further, irreparable, damage to the brand of Rupe’s rotten rags across the nation, then that’s a price I think we should all be prepared to pay.
* Half-colours in debating and athletics at Gatton College (withdrawn).