British travellers I meet here(Australia) do not seem to appreciate that the states of Australia are quite real, though they weren’t mentioned by Maynard and Hall. And the states(NSW, QLD, SA, etc..) are all labour governments. The British reader may not realize that health in Australia is a state responsibility, though funds are more or less directed via the federal government who levy most taxes.
"The Australian prime minister, John Howard, has engineered a major expansion in private healthcare insurance and been re-elected." So spake the authors at the beginning of this article, as if to say "re- election" indicates Howard’s ideas resonate with the populus, and that voters here are spoilt for choices.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, since opposition leader Paul Keating left the scene(defeated by Howard), the federal Australian opposition(so called "Labour" party) is pulseless. Their recent leader(Latham) retired unwell, and their new/old one(Beazley) may be in need of a personal trainer to manage his overweight problem. These individual health problems reflect the political state of the opposition generally.
 Healthcare lessons from Australia: what can Michael Howard learn from John Howard? Jane Hall and Alan Maynard BMJ 2005; 330: 357-359.
P.S. I'm not near as peeved as Paul Duff by the crap related comments by Aviva Sheb'a in response to Maynard and Hall, though I too work in the “Australian” health care system. However
Competing interests: None declared
Competing interests: No competing interests