Certainly one for the golden oldies. Not just Medicare but Medicare Gold! Labor's policy launch was cleverly designed to stress one of its strengths and blunt one of its negatives. The strength is Medicare itself. If Mark Latham can make this election a referendum about Medicare he will win it hands down.
Health is the one issue that every poll by a margin well out of the range of three standard deviations of error has Labor trusted far more than the Coalition. Every day that Labor can make some aspect of Medicare the issue of the day the greater its chances of victory. The negative is that older Australians seem less impressed by the young Opposition Leader than they are by the pension age Prime Minister. Hence the choice of linking Medicare with Australians 75 and over.
There is a danger, of course, that things will not work out as planned. Promising immediate and free hospital access to those 75 and over raises the fear that those of us without the Gold Medicare card will have to wait longer. Mr Howard was quick to seize on this possibility and Mr Latham will need to spell out how he will create sufficient new hospital beds to cater for the increased demand. Not that he will mind trying to do that. He knows that if the campaign is about health he can defy the odds and win.
Those odds, incidentally, moved marginally towards Labor after the policy launch in Brisbane. There was a marginal increase on the Glug Election Indicator's assessment of Labor's chances of victory up from 30.7% to 31.3%