There wasn’t much visionary talk about health policy in the NSW election debate today between Premier Kristina Keneally and Opposition leader Barry O’Farrell. We didn’t get much beyond the usual auctioneering calls on hospital bed numbers.

Unfortunately, most of us are unlikely to learn more from an event to be held in Sydney tonight that is being billed as The Great Election Debate: Public Health in NSW.

Organisers had intended to film and record the event – but apparently this has been vetoed by the NSW Opposition.

Do they really not want us to know their plans for the health portfolio? Or are they just playing it super-safe? You wouldn’t think this necessary, given the landslide victory that is so widely expected.

More than 300 people from the health and community sectors are expected to turn up to hear from Carmel Tebbutt, Deputy Premier and Minister for Health; Jillian Skinner, Deputy Leader of the NSW Opposition and Shadow Minister for Health; and David Shoebridge, Lead Green’s Candidate.

According to the organisers*, “candidates will be asked to explore issues such as: funding for public health and prevention programs; Aboriginal health and social disadvantage; alcohol and mental health policies; measures to address climate change; cross-portfolio efforts to improve public health and the impact of national health reforms in NSW”.

If you haven’t already RSVP-d, the organisers ask that people DO NOT TURN UP ON SPEC. The event is fully booked.

Hopefully, someone in the audience will be filing for Croakey. Perhaps there will even be some disobedient types with a recording device switched on (here’s hoping anyway…)

• The debate is being hosted by The NSW Branch of the Public Health Association of Australia, in partnership with the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, and the NSW Branch of the Australian Health Promotion Association.

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