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Playing politics with a pandemic.

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Wed, 10th June 2009


The Hon Peter Dutton MP

Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing

A little noticed happening occurred two weeks ago, but it was an incredibly instructive insight into the Rudd

Government that is in power in Canberra.

On May 25 Health Minister Nicola Roxon held a news conference, shortly after so too did the ACT’s Health

Minister Katy Gallagher - both convened the media to talk about swine flu.

The Federal Minister’s briefing was to inform Australians of the latest developments with the outbreak of this new

type of influenza, but she failed to do it fully.

In delivering a wrap up of the numbers of infected people across the nation, Nicola Roxon failed to mention that

the nation’s capital had recorded its first confirmed case of the virus.

She knew of that development having spoken with her ACT counterpart the night before, but avoided passing on

that information the next morning so that Ms Gallagher could make the announcement before her local media.

The swine flu has not proven to be the dangerous and virulent threat that health authorities initially feared, but if

this were a major pandemic Ms Roxon’s behaviour would be a colossal breach of trust with the Australian people;

reliant as they are and would be on her for the latest, accurate information.

It shows how far this government will go to “spin” events for their political benefit.

A Federal Health Minister prepared to be less than frank with the nation over a serious health threat in order to

give a local colleague a “media opportunity” - playing politics with a possible flu pandemic.

It is symptomatic of this Government as The Australian revealed on Saturday. Departments with scores of

communications staff to keep control of the Government’s image, massage its message.

But one message is starting to take root - Kevin Rudd is all about spin - there is very little substance behind the

man who is leading this nation into its deepest ever level of debt.