Roxon, you don’t have to put on the red light
It’s customary to denounce government ministers for being ineffective but for something different today I’m going to attack the Health Minister Nicole Roxon for being far too effective.
More so than any other frontbencher in this government Roxon appears to have got her way on pretty much everything and, as a result, life has becoming increasingly more irritating for those of us who choose to treat our bodies like a science experiment.
Early last year, when cigarettes cost a paltry $12 a packet, as opposed to the new price of $286 a packet, I had the pleasure of bumping into Ms Roxon in the gardens outside the House of Representatives chamber at Federal Parliament, where I happened to be stubbing out a cigarette in the ashtray. “You don’t have to put that out because of me,” she joked, although there was a vaguely maniacal glint in her eye, as if she was going to finish the sentence by saying: “Yet.”
In the 18 months since that encounter Roxon has overseen a raft of changes which go to what you could call non-quality of life issues – that is, those things that shorten our lives in a generally pleasurable manner.
Roxon and her adherents in the preventative health lobby – soon to be its own mega-department - adhere to the view that jumping up and down on the spot is preferable to lying on the couch, that you don’t need to drink to have a good time, that a shared six pack of West Coast Coolers is not a teenage rite of passage but cause for national alarm, and that breakfast should be a daily bacon-free event, as if there’s something rewarding about springing out of bed and eating a bowl full of sunflower seeds.
In less than one term Nicola Roxon has given the red light to most forms of legal fun, and is only getting started.
Speaking as we were above about government advertising, the government is about to shell out a shed-load of cash as part of its $400 million preventative health strategy to spread the wellness message throughout the land. A new advertising campaign will be launched to combat smoking and binge drinking, sports groups which rely on alcohol advertising will share in a $25 million pool to find alternative sources of income, and 50,000 people will be surveyed to gain a national snapshot of our weight, exercise habits and diet.
Apparently as consenting adults we all still enjoy freedom of choice, it’s just that a stack of our money will be used to tell us which choice we should make.
It will be interesting to watch ageing trends over the coming decades, as the ever-successful Nicolas Roxon helps preside over the collapse of the public hospital system and the explosion in demand for retirement home places as the new Aussie master race all start living to 130. The hospital wards will be full of spotty old bastards whose fingernails are growing down to the ground and who don’t know what day it is but who refuse ever to die because they’ve eaten nothing but All-Bran for more than a century.
Meanwhile, those who are doing their bit to keep the life expectancy down are already paying more than their fair share in taxes, well beyond the financial burden they ultimately place on the health system. With a packet of smokes now costing $17.50 and a six pack of Bundy and Cola costing $28, it’s getting to the point where the self-abusers will have to pay for their lifestyle by selling a kidney, if they still have a functioning spare.
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