Prime Minister Kevin Rudd met Medicare Local staff in Lismore. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd met Medicare Local staff in Lismore. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star Cathy Adams

Rudd is indirect on CSG

NOT everybody gets to ask the Prime Minister a direct question, but yesterday I did.

After waiting around for an hour while Mr Rudd did a meet and greet with staff at North Coast Medicare Local, I listened through his media conference where he announced Labor would boost funding by $50 million to employ specialist stroke care co-ordinators to assist patients making the transition from hospital to home.

He said things like "health and healthcare are in Labor's DNA" and that under the Coalition the whole Medicare Local network would be dismantled; putting 3000 frontline healthcare workers out of work and affecting services to people all over Australia, particularly in rural areas.

A massive media circus that is following his every move and every utterance throughout this election campaign squeezed into a room too small by half and set up an improbable amount of equipment.

At the end of Mr Rudd's announcement he asked for questions.

Earlier in the day I had asked people on Facebook what they would like to ask the PM. Several people wanted me to ask about the ALP's CSG policy.

Maybe it's because I'm tall and was wearing a colourful shirt, but I got in first.

"Mr Rudd, Janelle Saffin is wearing a No CSG badge today and had been campaigning hard on that issue, which has been the biggest issue in our region in recent years. Yet the Labor platform clearly states that you support the development of the unconventional gas industry. Would you like to comment on the party's position?" I asked.

He assured me that in "sensitive areas like the Northern Rivers" decisions rested with the Commonwealth Environment Minister and not "some state government minister from Macquarie St", a reference to the water trigger change to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act introduced earlier this year.

And that was my contribution to the debate.

Questions turned to gay marriage; whether we should boycott the Russian Winter Olympics because of Vladimir Putin's anti-gay laws; asylum seeker policy; legalisation of marijuana and a range of topics before Mr Rudd brought it back around to the Opposition's "hidden agenda" of cuts.

For Mr Rudd it was just another day on the campaign trail.