Norman Fowler, an unlikely hero in the fight against AIDS

Published: November 24, 2014

Mark Dodgson
Original Article:

I never expected to include a cabinet minister from a conservative British government in my pantheon of heroes, a man whom cartoonists lampooned as a chicken.

[Fowler] shows us, at a time of disillusionment if not despair with behaviour in our parliament, what politicians can achieve.

Yet Norman Fowler, who was minister of health in Britain from 1981 to 1987, is an example of a resolute politician determined to push for what is right in the face of fear and prejudice.

He displayed in spades what too many spineless Australian politicians have been unable to do for far too long now. When confronting a crisis, he looked for expert scientific advice, made bold decisions, and then worked tirelessly to get those decisions implemented in the face of bureaucratic inertia on the one hand, and anger and outrage on the other.

He fought direct opposition from then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and in a coalition of science, media and interest groups, led the biggest public education campaign ever staged in Britain.

At first sight, Norman Fowler is an unlikely champion of those suffering from AIDS, but as soon as he learned about the disease he became, and has remained, a passionate advocate for sufferers. He shows us, at a time of disillusionment with, if not despair at, behaviour in our parliament, what politicians can achieve.

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