A DAY AT THE CRICKET
FRIDAY 16 JANUARY 2015
Off to ODI between Australia v. England at the SCG with the Prime Minister. Looking forward to relaxing day of cricket, beer, and bitching about the Senate.
Arrive at Sydney Cricket Ground Members. Abbott pleased to see me, needs to discuss Medicare policy.
Insist to Abbott it is a new year; no need to beat himself up about co-payment failing.
Abbott explains new Medicare policy that his office has worked up.
Is it a good idea to bring co-payment back, even if just for short appointments?
Abbott explains it is not a co-payment, but measure to encourage Doctors to spend more time with patients by reducing the rebate for short appointments by $20.
So it is a cut?
Abbott insists it is not a cut. It's an incentivisation measure that just happens to yield savings of $1.3 billion.
Hockey calls. Needs me to pass on message. Backbench is against new $20 co-payment policy. Try to explain Abbott's position that it's not a co-payment but an incentivisation measure.
Hockey takes exception to me trying the "calling taxes and cuts other words" strategy on him. Hockey warns that opponents of "Credlin’s plan" are willing to make public their threats to go public with opposition.
Does this mean MPs are threatening to go public with opposition?
No, Hockey says MPs would never go public, this is merely a warning that MPs will go public with details of warning to go public unless the policy is dumped.
Ask Hockey how he can even consider this? Hockey says it was either communicate with one another through media or go through PM's office.
Pass info on to Abbott.
Abbott says it is not $20 co-payment, but $20 cut to rebate.
I thought it was not a cut?
Abbott: this is just the point. There is a lot of confusion. Backbench needs more time to absorb and understand Prime Minister’s policy.
Wonder if this would have been easier if we'd told them about policy before telling The Australian?
Match started. Mitchell Starc takes two England wickets in three balls.
Abbott inspired by Starc bowling, coming back from Shane Warne’s criticism calling him “soft”. Maybe Coalition should stick to $7 co-payment plan rather than incentivisation co-payment plan.
Abbott goes to get beers. Has been thinking it would actually be soft to back down from incentivisation plan and go back to $7 co-payment. Policy is now to stick to incentivisation.
England on top. Abbott feels weakness in Australian attack is lack of variety. Thinks this might be weakness in Medicare policy. Decides new policy will be to implement incentivisation-measure, AND $7 co-payment. Abbott calls Credlin, asks her to brief cabinet on new policy.
Hockey calls me. Asks if PM has changed mind.
Confirm that PM has changed mind.
Hockey asks what policy is.
Explain dual-co-payment policy.
Hockey says he is coming to the cricket to discuss.
Backbenchers have seen me at cricket with Abbott. Constant phone calls. Very angry they have not been consulted. Demands from many backbenchers that Abbott kill policy before end of Australia’s innings.
Just finished dinner with Australian team.
Abbott spent time with David Warner. Abbott believes Warner is archetypal Australian. Has new quote “so goes Warner, so goes the country”. Warner is against idea of $20 co-payment and thinks “incentivisation” sounds like “fucking Hindi”.
Abbott thinks he should take the advice. Plans to talk to Warner further after innings.
Hockey calls. Refused entry to SCG on the basis of dress code: jeans had a hole.
Told Hockey relax; David Warner has almost talked Abbott out of new policy.
Hockey does not relax.
Warner still batting. Will probably make century.
Inform Abbott that Hockey cannot get in to ground. Abbott laughs. Feels we should conduct more meetings at sporting events, going to tennis tomorrow. Wants to pick Lleyton Hewitt’s brain about submarines.
PM orders another beer. Is that four?
Must save PM from himself.
Call Susan Ley (Health Minister). Ley is on cruise ship. Does not want to talk.
Explain that Abbott wants to ditch new co-payment policy.
Ley did not know we had new policy. Explain policy.
Ley alarmed, but feels this can wait until next week.
Demand Ley calls journalists before end of Dave Warner’s innings, and do press conference tomorrow morning. Abbott is out of control. We need to kill policy without consulting him.
Australia win. Abbott and I join Australian team at post-match drinks in night-club.
Feel too old for this, but Abbott suggests I relax.
Warner and Abbott deep in conversation: mostly discussing sledging. Both agree that while actual prowess at career is important, sledging is just as important.