There is always more to do in prevention, and public health advocates will always press for more action to reduce unnecessary deaths and ill health. The Prevention Taskforce report provides an evidence-based blueprint for action on alcohol and obesity, as it did for tobacco: there is now a clear basis for action by governments and advocacy by the public health community. The alcohol and junk food industries are as powerful as tobacco (maybe even more), and there is great need for action in these areas as in others. But a realistic assessment must recognise that, especially in a minority government, there is a limit to the number of hard targets any Minister can take on at once.
Nicola Roxon’s prevention legacy is secure. She put prevention on the map, provided legislation and funding, led the world in tobacco control, took on and defeated Big Tobacco as both Health Minister and Attorney General, and developed the roadmap for action on alcohol and obesity. She can take pride in her record, and we can take pride in a Minister who achieved so much for public health.
And I would bet against the incoming Coalition government's* rescinding anything she's done. She's built a new quango to permanently advocate for stronger public health interventions, and conservative governments never seem bright enough to destroy these agencies when they take office. And so we must offer her congratulations. She has very effectively moved policy in her preferred direction and embedded institutions that will keep it on that track for a rather long time.
* Yeah, yeah, the election hasn't happened yet. But look at the betting odds, or at least until Xenophon gets them banned in Oz. My hope: Labor gets demolished but Andrew Leigh survives to rebuild the party in his image, Leigh's Labor comes close to winning in the next election in a surprise, then takes office.