Day Six: Election 2013

Day Six of the election was dominated by the LNP announcement of a new Indigenous Advisory council headed by former ALP member Anthony Mundine and the commitment that Indigenous Affairs would move to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Kevin Rudd’s response was to wave his phone and remind everyone it was he who apologised to the stolen generation while his deputy dismissed Mundine as just a spokesman for the Coalition.

The ALP’s key announcement was to find $8 million to fund 60 places for Australian trained overseas-born doctors to complete medical internships in rural Australia. (Disconcertingly, there was nothing about enabling students from rural Australia accessing medical training).

Access to internships in medicine seems to be a controversial area of late and one in which the Government still has not adequately addressed. In Australia there are currently 3,000 medical students who are Australian or New Zealand citizens, and approximately another 500 who are international citizens. Access to medical jobs upon graduation is done on a state basis. Victoria and Western Australia have decided that those students who are international students from their own universities are a higher priority for employment than any Australian citizen who comes from interstate. i.e. the least meritorious Victorian student is deemed to be of higher priority than the most meritorious Queensland student.

Potentially, this is a breach of section 117 of the Constitution as you cannot discriminate against someone on the basis of their state of residence. Coupled with today’s announcement it highlights how dependent the universities (and the Government) are on fee-paying foreign students to prop up tertiary sector funding.

Another day and another two locally preselected ALP candidates have been dis-endorsed from Kennedy (FNQ) and Hotham (Vic). In the plum seat of Hotham Geoff Lake was stood aside for ‘verbal abusing’ a fellow councillor eleven years ago. (On that basis Rudd should stand aside for the air stewardess incident). How convenient for the ALP executive to now decide the candidate.

Is it the ALP’s intent to override the rank and file’s pre-selected candidate in every seat in favour of an executive pick? In my electorate, the only electoral advertising material does not mention the local candidate only Kevin Rudd & Labor are delivering for the local area. Does that mean I won’t be certain who the local ALP candidate until polling day?

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