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Tag Archives: GP co-payment

Merry Christmas Gina and Rupert

If you go to Tony Abbott’s facebook page, at time of writing, you will find six threads about the Martin Place siege and one about the slaughter of innocent children in Pakistan. Four days after its release, you will not find any comment about Hockey’s MYEFO. That in itself should be cause for concern.

Tony Abbott has admitted he has little interest in the “dismal science” of economics and it appears he is hoping that applies to the rest of us. He is sticking to his forte – death cults and shirt-fronting.

Despite telling us all to carry on our lives as normal, he seems determined to class the acts of one deranged individual as a terrorist attack on home soil.

When Australians responded by showing solidarity with the Muslim community through the “I’ll ride with you” campaign, the odious Miranda Devine found a new target.

“Thus it was that on Monday, while real people were suffering at the hands of an Islamic State-inspired terrorist in Martin Place, hashtag activists sprang to the defence of theoretical victims of an Islamophobia that wasn’t occurring.

The meaningless, narcissistic, one-sided nature of this “near silent encounter” perfectly symbolises the leftist ­approach to Islamist terrorism.

Denial, deflection, projection. They see themselves as morally superior to the rest of Australia, which they imagine as a sea of ignorant rednecks. In their eyes the threat is not terrorism but Islamophobia.”

This view was endorsed by LNP member for Dawson, George Christensen who tweeted

“#illridewithyou is a typical pathetic left wing black arm band brigade campaign, casting Aussies as racists who will endanger Muslims”

The colourful characters who frequent Andrew Bolt‘s blog joined in with a barrage of hate.

Whilst Abbott, Devine, Bolt and Christensen continue to pander to the minority of xenophobic racist rednecks, others have been commenting on the policy direction of this government and none of it is good.

Firstly, Joe Hockey has cost us $28.6 billion in foregone revenue over the forward estimates through his own decisions.

Carbon Tax $12.8 billion

MRRT $3.4 billion

FBT on cars $1.8 billion

Tax on super earnings $313 million

Work-related self-education $266.7 million

Closing corporate tax avoidance $775 million

RBA $8.8 billion (classed as foregone dividends)

Add to that his spending on Direct Action, the “war on terror” at home and abroad, and the extra spending on Operation Sovereign Borders and PPL and we would go close to wiping out his deficit of over $40 billion.

So when you hear the girlinator Cormann talking about Layboor’s debt and deficit disaster, understand you are being sold snake oil by a con man.

Speaking of con men, the G20 leaders must be wondering about our commitment to join the war on corporate tax avoidance which has been shown to be yet another example of Joe “over my dead body” Hockey’s ‘tell em what they wanna hear’.

The head of the Australian Tax Office, Chris Jordan, has described a tax lurk for multinational companies that is being retained by the Abbott government as having been “abused” by foreign corporations at a cost of “hundreds of millions of dollars” a year to the Commonwealth but Hockey, following consultation with the big four accountancy firms and the Corporate Tax Association, which represents the biggest listed companies, decided not to tinker with section 25-90 of the act. And they had the hide to criticise Gillard and Swan for caving in on the mining tax though that was one time I found myself in agreement.

And they will have more pressure coming as the world insists that we take action on climate change.

During an appearance before a British parliamentary committee meeting held early Wednesday morning Australian time, British Prime Minister David Cameron was asked by an MP whether there was hope Australia would do more because “the new Australian government is in denial” on the issue.

Mr Cameron did not disagree and told the hearing there was hope Australia would step up its efforts.

“Australia will respond to international pressure and do more on climate change because it will not want to be seen as the “back marker”.”

The new revised GP co-payment has also been blasted.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has expressed its formal opposition to the Federal Government’s new co-payment model, labelling it a “wrecking ball”.

“That this should be instituted and ready to go by January 19 is, I think, absurd,” Associate Professor Owler said. “Particularly when there has been absolutely no consultation on this issue.”

The OECD was also not impressed with Hockeynomics slamming his budget measures and stating that ‘close monitoring’ was required mentioning everything from changes to Newstart and pensions through to Direct Action, deregulation of uni fees, and choice of infrastructure spending. They were particularly critical of superannuation tax concessions. The overall implication was “you haven’t thought these measures through”.

And as Abbott has his photo taken in front of lots of Christmas trees, presents are being delivered around the country.

Up to 100 ABC journalists have been told they will become redundant and ADF personnel will face rent increases as well as other charges for live in accommodation and meals.

Australia has transformed into the global Scrooge just in time for Christmas, with spending on foreign aid set to plunge compared to other wealthy industrial countries.

An analysis of Treasurer Joe Hockey’s $3.7 billion cut to the aid budget announced on Monday – on top of the $7.6 billion cut in May – reveals that Australia’s generosity towards the world’s poor will fall to an all-time low.

Australia will soon devote a paltry 22¢ cents in every $100 of national income to foreign aid – less than half the amount spent by the Coalition government more than 40 years ago.

This is the news Tony Abbott and his band of elves don’t want you to discuss as they take from the poorest in the world to give generously to wealthy corporations and mining companies. Gina and Rupert should be well pleased.

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The death of due process, transparency and accountability

Increasingly this government is seeking to subvert due process and impose their agenda in totalitarian fashion.

Regardless of whether you think the increase in fuel excise is an appropriate measure, the move to introduce it through regulation rather than legislation is specifically designed to bypass parliament. The regulations will need to be backed up with proper legislation by the Senate within 12 months or the money raised will have to be refunded.

As reported in the SMH

“The government believes the ploy will put Labor and Greens senators in a bind at that time forcing them to choose between keeping the escalating revenue stream, or voting it down forcing the government to pay potentially hundreds of millions of dollars collected from motorists back to oil companies.

While the incremental inflation adjustments will raise an expected $167 million from motorists by November next year, little-appreciated new compliance costs for service stations are calculated at $5.06 million according to Treasury estimates.”

So much for cutting red tape to help small businesses. They also ignore the flowon costs to households as businesses pass on increased delivery expenses, and the cumulative effect of twice yearly increases.

And it seems they may be trying to introduce the GP co-payment in the same way.

Initially, on Tuesday Peter Dutton said:

“There is no capacity to introduce a $7 co-payment through regulation, the advice from our legal people within the department as well as with attorneys is the $7 co-payment needs substantive legislation to support the co-payment.”

But yesterday he changed that message, refusing to rule out the introduction of the $7 levy by regulation to bypass the need for legislation.

“I am not going to rule things in or out. I am saying that there are options that are available to the Government,” Mr Dutton said.

Finding ways around our parliament and our laws is becoming a habit.

After the High Court ruled in June that the federal government could not directly fund religious chaplains in public schools, Christopher Pyne chose to give the money to the states with the direction that it could not be used for secular welfare workers.

So much for their claim that education decisions should not be dictated by Canberra.

In February, a Senate inquiry paved the way for the Parliament to give Environment Minister Greg Hunt legal immunity against future legal challenges to his decisions on mining projects. It will protect him from being challenged over deliberate or negligent decisions that do not comply with the law.

The Coalition government has now licensed Greg Hunt to avoid compliance with the EPBC Act. The amendment retrospectively validates ministerial decisions – even if they did not comply with the EPBC Act when they were made.

We are also losing our right to appeal development decisions.

The Abbott government’s move to establish a single approval process by passing environmental approval responsibilities onto the states and territories creates a conflict of interest as they raise revenue from land sales and mining royalties.

In early 2014 the Queensland government proposed to confine the objections and notifications process for a mining lease to people owning land within the proposed lease.

The Coordinator-General is fast becoming an almost supremely powerful czar for large projects in Queensland, subject only to the political whims of the state government. He can also prevent any objections to the environmental authority for a coordinated project from being heard by the Land Court. When combined with the severe restrictions on objections to mining leases, very few people can now challenge matters such as impacts on groundwater of large mines that are declared a coordinated project.

Under the federal Coalition’s one-stop shop the Coordinator-General is also proposed to have power to approve projects impacting on matters protected under federal environmental laws.

And that’s not the only avenue for appeal that is being shut down.

Australians could be left with no appeal rights against government secrecy by the end of this year.

The May budget cut $10.2 million funding for the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) which handles Freedom of Information appeals. The government wants appeals to be handled by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal instead. This move is being blocked in the Senate so we will be left with effectively no avenue for appeal.

But perhaps the most blatant disregard for the law is being shown by Scott Morrison who, in a Napoleonic gesture, has conferred on himself the power to revoke a person’s citizenship. The new laws provide the Minister with the power to set aside decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) concerning character and identity if it would be in the public interest to do so and confer on the Minister the power to make legislative instruments.

Morrison has condemned innocent people to indefinite incarceration and washed his hands of any responsibility for their welfare. He has ignored warnings that his actions are in breach of human rights and is actively outsourcing our responsibilities under the Refugee Convention at enormous cost to this country. He is now even blocking refugee applications from people coming through official UNHCR channels.

Journalists have been denied access to detention camps. Even the head of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, was denied access to child asylum seekers on Nauru on the grounds that the commission’s jurisdiction did not extend beyond Australia’s borders. The cost of a single-entry media visa to Nauru rose from $200 to $8,000.

And if any of us report on the machinations of this government, our fate is in the hands of Attorney-General George Brandis who has the individual power to determine if we should face a possible ten year jail sentence.

So much for free speech, transparency and accountability.

“Trust me,” they say. Not friggin’ likely.

 

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Joe Hockey; wealthy complacency

If there was any stand-out from Joe Hockey’s performance on Q&A it would have been his ability to permeate the studio with an overwhelming odor of wealthy complacency, with weasel words thrown in for good measure.

It was with considerable smugness that Joe Hockey admitted that the GP co-payment, “. . .is a new tax – or a rabbit.”

We didn’t say we wouldn’t raise any taxes. That’s absurd because we went to the last election promising to introduce a levy for the paid parental leave scheme“, Mr Hockey said.

Tony Abbott’s original argument was that this addition to upper class welfare, and ‘signature policy’, was the insistence that the PPL was not a tax; it was a levy. However, and currently in vogue and up until Hockey’s appearance on Q&A, all was but a mere levy and not a tax. The consequences of Hockey’s statement, is that according to himself, both he and Prime Minister Abbott made deliberately misleading statements, and on numerous occasions.

That is, “We did say we wouldn’t raise any taxes…”, (because) the PPL levy is in fact a tax.

It seems that the words ‘tax’ and ‘levy’ are bandied about by the Liberal Party, changed at whim and to which ever circumstances suit. Those who voted Liberal on the premise that Abbott would get rid of Labor’s “great big new tax” must be bitterly disappointed as we now have an even bigger, great big new tax … or series of them.

However, should we care to address the practicalities of this issue, there is a world of difference between a PPL with a proposal that this be paid by “a 1.5% levy on the biggest companies” and a $7 GP co-payment taxed on GP visits, pathology and X-rays, and which would further distort access to medical treatment for those on the lowest incomes. This is akin to stating that the economic impact of the cost of two beers to an old age pensioner has an equivalent impact as on a business entity, and an extraordinarily wealthy one at that. Abbott and Hockey’s insistence that they be ‘right’ – and all of the time, often leaves logic in its wake.

In Abbott and Hockey-world, business being business and poor people being poor people, it will of course be business who will be compensated for the PPL tax/levy by receiving an equivalent tax cut of 1.5%. Might there be any equivalent breaks for those having to fork out for Hockey’s other tax – the GP co-payment? No of course not. Hockey’s proposition that the PPL tax/levy is therefore equivalent to the GP co-payment therefore falls so flat as to not only be just an illusion, but could be counted as a blatant attempt at deception.

On the debt levy, will the the richest 3%’s contribution/levy likewise put unreasonable pressure on anyone’s ability to feed, clothe and house themselves? Doubtful, unto too ridiculous to contemplate. The Liberals have gone to great lengths to ensure the wealthiest that this is a very temporary tax hike. And what would it matter anyway? . . . this cigar and Moët et Chandon tax will be easily be absorbed through multifarious untaxed lurks – “superannuation concessions, dividend imputation, negative gearing and family trusts.” Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have now successfully reinforced the image that to themselves and most of the front bench, that the obscenely wealthy remain as they always have been, The Untouchables.

You can be assured that these changes (with the exception of the debt tax) are not just for a couple of years, but forever. Along with this decimation lurks in the background cuts to science, Aboriginal health and education, with extreme pressure on the states to privatise almost everything. And all the while the reaction from both Abbott and Hockey is smirking disregard. Abbott “Dismisses concerns”, the headlines read and this is apart from the lewd wink aimed at a pensioner forced into working on a sex-line as the only thing available to her. Any empathy? Any sympathy?

However, most perplexing was the ‘carrot’ offered by Hockey in the form of medical research. That is, suffer now and one day if we splash enough cash at the problem so that ‘we’, and where all other countries have failed, will by some act of divine providence cure the world of all of it’s ailments.

Today (17th December, 2013), Treasurer Joe Hockey cut:

• $100 million in funding for Westmead Hospital
• $10 million from the Children’s Medical Research Institute and $12 million from the Millennium Institute – one of the largest medical research institutes in Australia working on cancer and leukaemia research, heart disease, eye and brain disease and heart and respiratory disorders.
• $15.1 million from the life-saving Cancer Care Coordinators program. Despite knowing that Australians in regional areas have a lower life expectancy and find it more difficult to access life-saving treatment the Government has decided to cut this funding.
• $6 million for Medical Resonance Imaging service at Mt Druitt, the cutting of the $10 million life-saving Queensland Cancer Package, $15 million from the Flinders Neo-Natal Unit, the $10 million Western Australia cancer team, and the $50 million stroke package.
• $3.5 million from the Biala Health Service, the only free sexual-health clinic in Brisbane.
• The Coalition will scrap the $100 million committed for the redevelopment of the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

It seems that the Abbott Government taketh with one hand to return ‘who knows what’ at some unspecified time in the future. Why would anyone cut funding from medical research into things such as cancer and childhood leukaemia, only to siphon it off to be paid to ‘who knows who’ at some non-specific time in the future? The cynic in me asks the question, who is set to gain from this? Which multi-national benefactor might it be? I believe that there are certain hints and clues provided by certain photos of Tony Abbott and his ‘sponsor’.

The Liberal Party’s own website provides that the projected $20 billion will not be achieved until around 2024-2025. “To establish the Fund, approximately $1 billion in uncommitted funds from the existing Health and Hospitals Fund will be transferred into the Fund at its inception”, which is supposed to be 2015-2016. But wait a moment; hasn’t the Abbott Government already cut an (estimated) half billion dollars from existing medical research and services? Hockey’s gushing at the government’s beneficence and commitment to human-kind suddenly loses it’s rosy bloom.

But don’t worry, there is some good news contained in Joe Hockey’s attempt at a budget: there will be more roads – well, in the cities at least.

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