Originally published in The Canberra Times on June 19, 2014

Charging sick people $7 to go to the doctor will hurt ordinary Australians far more than the carbon price ever did. While, admittedly, the ALP did a poor job of explaining it, the reality was that most Australians received more in compensation than they paid in higher electricity prices. Of course there is no compensation for  Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s compulsory donations to medical research. Indeed, unlike all other donations to medical research, the Medicare co-payment isn’t even tax deductible.

Mr Abbott was elected on a populist platform of creating jobs and cutting the cost of living. Having been elected he has set about shedding jobs and increasing the cost of living. It’s not hard to understand why voters have turned against his government.

The PM’s pledge to rip up the carbon tax was once a potent political symbol. In one phrase he got to impugn the honesty of former PM Julia Gillard, and explain how he would make life cheaper and create jobs. No wonder he kept saying it. The trouble is, however, that symbols aren’t reality.

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