A chilly autumn for health reform is forecast

AUTUMN in Gundagai is delightful. Cold nights bring a morning frost and generally sunny days. As winter approaches, the frosts make way for thick fogs that snake along the river and rise up over the hills, and sometimes last until well into the afternoon.

The weather in Canberra is not much different. Winter fogs make air travel in and out a lott­ery, and there’s a chill that brings out boots, coats and scarves.

Last month I went to another Budget lockup in Canberra. The first health lockup I went to in 1991 had about 20 people cramped into a small meeting room at an old Department of Health building in Woden, one of Canberra’s town centres.

The lockup this year had, I guess, around 350 people in a huge area at the Hellenic Club, with entry past the pokies and bar. The whole club was filled with hopes and dreams, even though reality had struck more than once.

This year the focus was on increased funding for mental