Most countries in our peer group got rid of private armies a long time ago. Instead, the government decides how many soldiers the country needs. It decides how much they are going to be paid. It decides where they should be stationed, and how many, and sends them there. This seems to work.
We also have a government-run system for internal security. The government decides how many police we need, how much to pay them, and where to put them. This also seems to work.
In our country, we have a system of public schools which is run along similar lines. The government decides where we should put schools, decides how much the people who work in them should be paid, and distributes teachers to schools where they are needed. This seems to work reasonably well. It would work better if the government were not simultaneously supporting a parallel private sector system with a massive system of inequitable subsidies. But still, you never read about the schools in Wilcannia, for instance, going under because they can’t find teachers.
So what is the problem with rural doctors? If we are going to have medicine controlled by the public sector, then let’s have medicine controlled by the public sector. We shouldn’t have to put up with a private army of health care mercenaries when we could have a professional service. Why can’t the government just decide how many doctors the country needs? Decide how much they are going to be paid? Decide where to put them? And send them there? Why wouldn’t this work? Sure, there might be some leakage to the private sector, just as there is with schools, but I don’t see why this should be a big problem. Public sector GPs could have rostered days off. They could work reasonable hours. They wouldn’t have to worry about paying enormous insurance bills. I’ve heard the argument that doctors would all go overseas if we tried this, but that would only prove we were training the wrong people to be doctors. People motivated solely by greed, with no true calling to public service. After all, our army isn’t haemorrhaging people going overseas to join private armies. Our police force isn’t decamping en masse to serve in
You'd think this would be the right time, with a 70+% approval rating and a bulging surplus, for a Labor prime minister to take on the AMA. Time to start putting together a professional public health service as world-class as our professional public armed services. I will keep myself in readiness to read all about it in the papers!