One Croakey reader evidently thought we have been all getting way too serious and bogged down in health reform. And that it was time for a larf.
Thanks to our correspondent for filing this report from the frontline.
“On a smoky battlefield somewhere between the badlands of Politics and Policy, our hero emerges through the gloom: “Whack, whack, coming through! Biff! – what would you know Brumby, kapow! – out of the way, Keneally. Whack! Whack! factions to the left of me, factions to the right of me; push Julia, push Nicola, got to crash through this sh*tstorm with EVIDENCE BASED POLICY.” [Off the record] Not the bloody evidence on tax hikes you stupid girl! God can’t you f**ing interns and waiters do anything right! [On the Record]
“Damn difficult this health stuff! Thought it would be doddle like the ETS, but, well let’s be honest, I got it wrong, I made a mistake and it took days longer to solve it than I thought. Still, ground seems firm enough now – good solid base this hospitals stuff. Shame we lost Christine in the first skirmish and aged care does seem to be sinking off to port. Hope we’ve still got mental health and primary care under tow.”
A newspaper flies dangerously close overhead. “Look out! Burokratz briefing at 10 o’clock! Kazam! take that New South Wales, damn fifth columnists! Hold the front line, it’s being besieged by policy wonks! Whack! – what would they know – institute of this, policy centre for that – most of them used to be bloody burokratz anyway – I know, I was there! Whack! look out Jane, that one’s heading for Woden … short pause followed by a loud explosion: [Off the record] Bugger, I’ve hit our own burokratz! Still, when there’s a great big war on everything there’s always going to be some collateral damage. I’ve got news for you – get used to it! [On the record]
Smoke clears to reveal a large hospital building: “Look – friendly forces! Make for there, that’s our kind of place; funny hats to wear and machines that go ping! Ahh, doctors and nurses – straightforward, clear thinkers, honest blokes and working women. They’re not afraid to take it up to the burokratz”.
[Off the record} Burokratz! Don’t get me started. All those bullsh*t functions nobody needs like recruitment and records, payroll and purchasing, finance and capital and planning. Burokratz are like the bloody aging – Ken and the godwins are right – they’re all just a bloody drain on revenue and it’s not like people get better or do anything productive – they just get bloody older! Adjutant enters from centre-right clutching a large cheque for signing: What’s this for? Ahh, stimulus is it? Big bucks for bankers and builders, a little gift for the January clearance sales and a bundle for the battpackers – good stuff! What the hell, make it forty three billion, its only money. Now that’s EVIDENCE BASED POLICY! [On the record]
Turns to assembled media pack: “Now let me say this – these hardworking medicos know their stuff – locally based, family friendly. Amazing how a hundred doctors across the country have all come up with the same answer: “look, it’s simple, just do this.” Programmatic specificity to a T. Great people, easy to deal with, community interests at heart, just like those ophthalmologists who were so helpful to Nikki and me recently.”
“Of course all this ‘consultation’ is important in winning the war but, you know, I’ve actually known how to fix this health stuff since I was a kid in the mud hut in the hinterland. I had an aunty who trained to be a dental nurse, so she was a big help, plus there were no end of veterinary challenges in those cow bails. And of course before I got really serious about fixing things I did all the defib jobs that year when I was a wardslad at Canterbury Hospital. The balloon would go up and I’d race from one end of those Edwardian buildings to the other: Stand back! I’d shout; slam on the paddles, close the gap, crank up the voltage and Whack! another save! Or not, as the case may be. You get used to it. I took a big lesson out of that formative year – do you know there were only two defibs in the whole place – disgraceful!! Never did ask the matron, med super or board why that was.”
The victorious group emerges from the hospital into a barren wasteland. Broken burokratz lie twitching feebly across the landscape, while doctors and nurses are dancing in small, locally responsive groups. Seventy nine percent of the population can be heard cheering in the distance, while offshore HMAS COAG and the sterns of the primary care, mental healht, rural health and aged care ships are slowly sinking in the west. And the east. And the … Our hero surveys the scene with obvious satisfaction: “Well that seems to be that, another battle won. Damn shame that poor chap succumbed when we were doing the photo op at the bedside – come to think of it he gave me a note”. Pulls crumpled notebook from pocket and flicks through pages, reads aloud: “Need help. 150 backpackers out of work. Thirty tons of Chinese insulation taking up space in the spare bedroom. Only made 24 million in our first year of operation. Rips page off and discards it: “Not that one – ah here it is – the patients last words”. Momentary pause: ‘You’re standing on my oxygen tube’.
Turns to the ragtag army standing behind, shell-shocked and murmuring: “Get over it, there’s more to come. Righto chaps, onward to victory. Combet! – sew this up for me, will you – I’m off to reform the tax system.”