Writing after the Australian federal election, I am only too well aware of the limits of democracy. One side's persuasive argument is seen as a scare campaign by others. Complex arguments are reduced to simple and slogans and one-dimensional solutions. The debate about rural health services focused on one or more needs; the broader picture was obscured. Persuasive advocates obtained promises about dental, mental health and suicide prevention services, Headspace and Early Psychosis Intervention Services but there was no debate about the health care system.