Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has conceded that Labor’s Medicare campaign showed Australian voters don’t trust the Coalition on health.
Speaking today with Nationals leader and deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, Turnbull said “there is no doubt that there is a level of disillusionment with politics, with government, and with the major parties” among voters.
That distrust included the Coalition when it came to Labor’s Medicare claims, despite repeated promises and denials from the government.
Turnbull’s acknowledgement was a far cry from John Howard’s 2006 election campaign based around the mantra “Who do you trust..?”, and implies that Tony Abbott’s broken election eve promise in 2013 of “no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS” was still fresh in the minds of voters.
“There was some fertile ground in which that grotesque lie could be sown. There is no doubt about that,” he said.
The prime minister appeared more contrite than during his bellicose election night address, but continued to rail against the “shocking lie” of Labor’s “Medi-scare”.
“What we have to recognise is that many Australians were troubled by it,” he said. “The fact this resonated at all sends a very clear message to us”.
The PM said “Labor cynically abused the trust of Australians by lying to them” about Medicare adding that it “was exposed in the media as a falsehood, was condemned in the media as a falsehood”.
“But the fact that significant numbers of people believed it… tells us that we have work to do,” he said.
“We need to do more to reaffirm the faith of the Australian people in our commitment to health and Medicare.”
Turnbull said he still expects to form major government, but “it will be a few more days before we get a clearer picture”.
“I take full responsibility for the campaign,” he said, adding that “there are lessons to be learnt from this election. It is too early to make definitive judgments”.
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