1 I listened with much interest to a speech by the National President of the Australian Medical Association Dr. Tony Bartone at the National Press Club last Wednesday.
He raised many issues of importance to all who use the medical system; however, the general thrust of his address was the need to overhaul the system.
One would think that an area as complex as health with all its future requirements would almost necessitate a permanent board of review given the good doctor described the system as being on the “precipice of possible demise.”
Or is that the job of the Minister?
It seems to me that we take rather a flippant view of our health care system just waiting for something to go wrong, or on the cusp of it, and then react with extra funds to fix the problems.
Like many things that are the preserve of this government, reaction is the go-to fix-it method; whereas what is needed is a pro-active approach.
Greg Hunt outside of mental health and occasionally announcing new drugs to be added to the pharmaceutical scheme appears to have little interest in the future of his portfolio. His attitude hasn’t differed from when he was Environment Minister and his lying knew no bounds.
In his speech, Dr Bartone said that the government should put an end to the endless reviews and ‘talk-fests’ that had taken place in recent years and take action on the known issues that were substantive.
There are so many things that need doing but cannot be done because of an imbalance between what we spend on vital needs such as health care and what we give away to the rich and privileged.
It sometimes feels like the conservatives are in a race to prove that drip down economics actually works. Labor’s plan that they took to the election required the rich to pay a bit extra in tax so that our national health care scheme can function without all the periodic reviews and ad hoc solutions. It also included for the first time that our teeth would become part of our health and that the growing problems of mental health be properly addressed.
The toward zero goal for suicide is an admirable one but words without action are just that, words.
Back to Dr Bartone, he said that:
“… the combined effect of increasing private health insurance premiums and the long-standing freeze on Medicare payments to general practitioners was seeing young and older Australians avoiding getting health treatment for conditions they should be.”
The budget has 1001 things pulling at the common good strings of the community, but none is more deserving than the health of the community.
With conservatives, however, the overriding need that must always be served first is looking after the wealth of the rich and privileged. Tax cuts together with a budget surplus that proves, in their minds at least, that they are the better money managers are far more important than the health needs of the community or a rapidly aging population for example.
Dr Bartone encouraged a broad-brush approach to fixing the problems. He also added that:
“… the increasing premiums was affecting the health insurance industry causing people to forego surgeries because of the cost.
The head of the association also hit out at the government for inaction on mental health, indigenous health and the freeze on Medicare rebates, saying there had been enough reviews into these issues, the government knew what to do and needed to get on with it.”
Further evidence of the disdain in which they hold the portfolio is the rather high ratio of ministers. Greg Hunt has an amazing capacity to appear to be doing something whilst doing nothing. Just as he did in the environment portfolio.
“To look at only parts of the system is not working, we need to look across the entire medical system and take action on what we already know needs to be done,” said Dr Bartone.
To understand the conservatives dislike of public services like our health system one firstly needs to look at their ideology, which believes in the individual’s capacity to pay. The wealthier and more successful you become then the higher you go up the list.
History shows Conservatives would, if they could, privatise many government functions in the belief that the work is done better by private enterprise.
From Wikipedia …
The Coalition Howard Government had announced that Medibank would be sold in a public float if it won the 2007 election, however they were defeated by the Australian Labor Party under Kevin Rudd which had already pledged that it would remain in government ownership.
The Coalition under Tony Abbott made the same pledge to privatize Medibank if it won the 2010 election but was again defeated by Labor. Privatisation was again a Coalition policy for the 2013 election, which the Coalition won.
However, the public perception that privatization would lead to reduced services and increased costs makes privatizing Medibank a “political hard sell.”
It is this same perception that safeguards the future of the NDIS and public education. Some things are indeed sacrosanct to the Australian people. It is only socially progressive governments that would dare introduce such measures.
2 The Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton now has more powers over the citizens of this country than anyone before him. Why is it necessary? The only thing I can think of is that they are devoid of common good ideas that might make things better for the people.
3 Now let’s get this right. Take the jobs market for example. The government promises thousands of jobs in the period before the next election although they are, other than the public service, not responsible for employing anyone.
The numbers of jobs created barely keeps up with the immigration numbers meaning we have a permanent pool of unemployment.
4 The Drum is fast becoming the ABC’s flagship political program. It uses a number of presenters who all know their stuff. At first, I didn’t think I would like the format but on reflection, I have become a fan.
Each day at 6pm they cover a broad range of subjects by guests from both sides of the political divide with women taking a major portion of the guest spots.
Tempers often flair but respect for the presenter is such that it never seems to cross the line. The ABC can beat many drums with this one.
5 “Whatever else you do, Renewable Energy Target, or anything else, they can be no cheaper than putting an explicit price on carbon,” Martin Parkinson, the outgoing head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet told ABC’s 7.30 on Thursday night.
Add that to the evidence of Tony Abbott’s former Chief of Staff Peta Credlin that they only ever treated climate change as a political plaything what do you have.
Yet more proof from the core of the right that they are nothing more than political gutter dwellers.
My thought for the day
We can sometimes become so engrossed in our own problems that we can easily overlook the enormity of the suffering of others.
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