a big contradiction
Kevin Rudd wants to introduce sweeping reform to the funding and provision of healthcare in Australia. Some people like the idea, but not everyone is convinced. I wouldn't like to hazard an opinion either way, but I listen with interest.
This caught my ear tonight. Kevin Rudd is throwing daily buckets of money at the states in a bid to buy their acquiescence to his proposed changes. Despite this, some state governments are worried they will end up with less money over all. Kevin might be dishing out the dough with one hand only to take it away with another. He claims the states will not be worse off in the long run but this does not seem possible... so where is the extra cash to come from?
Taxes on cigarettes of course!
Now it is no done deal, but rumour has it that the federal government will revenue raise by increasing tax on every packet of cigarettes. The price may rise from AU$13 to AU$20 for a pack of 30 over the course of a few years.
Is there a little big anomaly here? Cigarettes make you sick, so sick the health system is crumbling under the wait of chronic illness linked to smoking and other lifestyle factors. Increase the price of cigarettes and people will smoke less, or so we hope. This is good of course. But if people smoke less, the government will raise less tax and funding to the health system could be jeopardised. And chronic illness is just that. Chronic. It isn't going to go away just because a few people stop smoking when their cigarettes cost too much. So really, for this to be sustainable, the government needs people to keep smoking, so they can keep collecting the tax to keep the health system that is crumbling under the weight of chronic disease going, so the chronic disease caused by smoking can be treated.
Taxing cigarettes and alcohol is a crock. It might reduce consumption a little (I have my doubts - we always find money for things we really enjoy and want), but the government then has a vested interest in keeping us smoking and drinking in order to keep the money in the coffers.
I'll keep listening to the health debate, but right now, this is not my idea of a good idea.