WE SAY: Life quality depends on healthcare access

OUR VIEW: THE toing and froing in Canberra this week about the age Australians will live to in the future has missed the point.

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey said Australians born now could expect to live for upward of 150 years.

As if that did not seem outrageous enough, he linked the forecast to the government's argument for the public to pay more for Medicare.

He said such extraordinary longevity showed why Australians should accept cuts to government benefits and pay a greater share of their health costs.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten immediately chided Mr Hockey, calling his statement the Treasurer's "Sarah Palin moment". Ms Palin, the US Republican vice-presidential candidate in 2008, is famed for her gaffes about geography, US history and how government works.

However, since Mr Hockey's pronouncement, scientists have said it is possible he is right - at least about the age Australians may live to in the future.

But both Mr Hockey and Mr Shorten missed the point.

The argument should be less about the age someone can live to, and more about quality of life of aging people.

And the quality of life, for many, depends upon access to preventative medicine that is affordable.

And that is a Catch 22 in the Federal Government's health argument.

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