Eleventy is making claims about what changes are needed as a result of the intergenerational report. He is basing his fear campaign on the supposed finding that people are living longer. It is an misuse of the statics to claim that increasing life expectancy means people are living longer. The evidences is that people are not living longer but rather fewer people are dying prematurely. If two children are born and one dies at childbirth and the other lives to one hundred the live expectancy of the next child is born is fifty years. If two children are born and both live to one hundred then the life expectancy of the next child born is one hundred years. Hockey’s claim that we are in all sorts of trouble because of people living longer is either a non-existence understanding of the data or a deliberate attempt to mislead. Either way the policies proposed by the government are the exact opposite of what are required.
Life expectancy is growing because people are avoiding premature death. Medical advances and ‘nanny state’ policies such as banning smoking in public places and awareness of issues like obesity and excessive alcohol consumption are helping us avoid premature death and staying healthy longer. Our health regimes are working and our Medicare system is part of the education and early diagnosis that is helping us stay healthy longer even if we do not actually live longer. Destruction of the systems we have in place can only lead to a degeneration of our health and a greater dependency on heroic health solutions that will cost far more than looking after our health in the first place. I fear that the extreme right wing ideology that drives the Abbott government makes them deaf, dumb and blind to any consideration of facts that confront their ideology.
This blindness includes that an increasingly healthier population but not dying any later will not cause the massive blowout of pensions forecast. Possibly the opposite if a healthy population wants to work longer as I suspect it would. What is needed is not punishing people for growing old but more employment for everyone.
More employment for all age groups brings in the question of education. The world is changing rapidly and most of what a young adult knows when leaving school is redundant in a very short time span. We are entering an age where there will have to be lifetime learning and continuous updating of education/skills to meet the demands of a modern world if we are not going to create a privileged class of educationally literate and a massive underbelly of uneducated technologically illiterate poor. This later course fits into the ideology of the Abbott government but a compassionate caring country would want an educational system that gave everyone the opportunity of staying up to date and move from role to role as the world changed and as they grow older.
The infrastructure need to support a population staying healthier longer and staying with a rapidly changing world requires very fast communications and data transfer. The new manufacturing model is likely to be based on 3D printing and other rapid transfer technologies. The rest of the word is heading towards fast and reliably communications and data transfer whilst the Abbott government seems intent on reducing Australia to sending electronic smoke signals.
We have elected a 1950’s retro government intent in reproducing the politics of fear and loathing typified by Mr Abbott’s hero and mentor B A Santamaria. If Australia is to recover and start moving forward again it is time this government was, to use Mr Abbott’s words ‘Dead Buried and Cremated.’ I would have though that ‘buried and cremated’ was an overkill. I will settle for buried under a very large rock until the Day of Judgment.