Health system in turmoil

The scrapping of Medicare rebate cuts suggests a health system in turmoil.

Health system in turmoil

The scrapping of the most recent iteration of the Medicare rebate cuts may be a win for patients, but it suggests a health system in turmoil and no clear direction on how to get it back on track.

It’s hardly surprising that the realisation that certain Medicare rebates would be cut by $20.10 was met with opposition by GPs, patients, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and of course, opposition MPs, but it’s the lack of support from government backbenchers which is cause for concern.

Former cabinet minister Mal Brough was prepared to go public with his opposition to the imminent change and Campbell Newman, facing a battle for re-election in Queensland, was keen to have the issue killed. And Queensland backbencher Bert van Manen has made public what he sees as a need for the government to fix its communication problems. All this only 24 hours after Tony Abbott had defended the changes as a “price signal” and “economic reform”.

Indeed, the news of the backdown came as a surprise to doctors, who were holding meetings with the AMA, displaying posters in waiting rooms directing complaints about new fees to Tony Abbott and mobilising a petition on GetUp, which quickly gained momentum and over 44,000 signatures. And while the news, delivered by new Minster for Health Susan Ley, that the changes would be scrapped was welcome, she also made it clear that more changes were to come. "It remains critical that we implement changes to ensure quality care for Australians and a secure future for Medicare," Ms Ley said.

Greens senator Dr Richard Di Natale signalled not only a health policy in crisis, but a government at odds, by saying, "You have to wonder about the fact we were promised this sort of calm, methodical, grown-up government. And yet when it comes to health policy it's just one shambles, followed by another shambles, it's just chaos."

Independent senator Nick Xenaphon hoped that the government would take note that consultation with GPs was needed to ensure successful changes to the health system were made. "This is a case where the Government hasn't thought this through," he said. "They have treated doctors as an enemy rather than a friend where they can work together with them to get a better health outcome and savings to taxpayers."

Read more at ABC.net.au
Read more at TheAge.com.au

Opinion: Time to listen

If the last six months has taught Tony Abbott   one thing, hopefully it is that it is time to listen to what others believe is right for our country, rather than attempting to implement policy and changes which are sporadic at best and incredibly damaging at worst.

It must be said that Tony Abbott has increased his political worth overseas when dealing with such tragedies as the disappearance of flight MH370 and the shooting down of flight MH17, but domestically the Prime Minister seems to be at odds with what the country wants and needs.

Shunned by his own party during the Victorian state election and given the short-shrift by Campbell Newman now that campaigning for the Queensland election is underway, Mr Abbott is facing a choppy political future. Undermined by his own backbenchers on policies he wholeheartedly champions, such as the GP co-payment in its many iterations and paid parental leave (yes, he’s still keen on that), it’s time for the Prime Minster to take a deep breath and listen.

Far from taking the strides forward we were promised when the Coalition government came to power some 14 months ago, we’re in a holding pattern which is good for no one. We have a health system in turmoil, an education system which is in danger of becoming a cash cow for universities, a national broadcaster forced to slash staff, the Australian Tax Office unable to chase tax cheats due to staff cuts and uncertainty surrounding the future of the Age Pension. If we’re better off under Mr Abbott’s leadership, as we’re constantly told we are, then I must be missing something big that’s happened.

Frequent changes in leadership of the country does no one any favours and so I would like nothing more than to have a government which truly does what is best for Australia, and those who call it home. With Australia Day just around the corner, and the centenary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli, perhaps it’s time for Mr Abbott to reflect on what truly makes this country great and embrace it, rather than try to tear it apart.

Do you think that changes to the health system, Medicare in particular, are called for? Is there a need for greater government consultation with stakeholders before making fundamental policy changes? Is Tony Abbott on the right track with his management of the country and economy, or is it time for him to take stock and a new direction?





    COMMENTS

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    JohnJax
    19th Jan 2015
    11:29am
    Congratulations on an excellent opinion piece - moderate in its criticisms but spot on in its advice.
    I would go a bit further than this, however.
    I am concerned about all this nonsense about there being no such thing as climate change, and the insistence by Mr Abbott that public servants us the term "climate variability" instead - this is 16th century stuff.
    Related to this is the rejection by this government of all things scientific - crippling the CSIRO, getting rid of a Minister for Science.
    And also related to this his disregard for the environment - Mr Abbott spruiks that getting rid of the carbon tax was some kind of grand victory - it wasn't, it was a disaster for our fragile environment.
    Similarly for getting rid of the mining tax - why shouldn't these billionaires who profit from exploiting the natural resources that should belong to all of us be required to pay more for doing so?
    In the face of world-wide concern about the destructiveness of carbon, Mr Abbott clings fiercely to an outdated belief that the future of the world and of our country depends on coal, when quite the reverse is true. His "direct action" approach, whereby we actually PAY the polluters is farcical, and doomed to failure. The way to stop people and companies from doing something is to punish them, not to reward them!
    Another criticism I have of Mr Abbott and his government is his determination to drag us back into the past - for example, resurrecting knights and dames, even on the most limited basis.
    States should not be encouraged (forced?) to sell their State assets - these belong to the people for a very good reason - if they are sold, prices will inevitably rise steadily over time, maintenance will be kept to a minimum (because it lessens profits), and only profitable (densely populated) areas will be serviced.
    Finally, I want my ABC. I do not want this country to be governed at the behest of an expatriate Press baron, or the media to be slanted one way or another by rich, self-interested mining magnates.
    Of course the government has to keep a close eye on expenditure and try to pay down the public debt, but nearly every cost-cutting tactic to date has been at the expense of the less well off while those better off (and more influential with this government) have prospered.
    Jen
    19th Jan 2015
    11:56am
    I couldn't agree more JohnJax.
    MICK
    19th Jan 2015
    1:27pm
    Good post and factual.
    The only place 'climate change' apparently is not occurring is in Australia where the voice of the coal industry rules supreme. Same as the 'level playing field' from Paul Keating and once again this only exists in Australia. What a unique place we live in!
    What you did not mention is that the repeal of the Carbon Tax now costs Australian taxpayers an extra $8 BILLION A YEAR. That's right folks: the Carbon Tax which was beginning to work well was canned for the financial gain of the fossil fuel industry and this is now being passed onto taxpayers. Tony Abbott never told you that though.
    You are also spot on with the cut in ABC and SBS funding. The reason why: because the Liberal side of politics does not want free speech. This must have been clear the 2 years before the last federal election when the business owned (=Liberal) media ran their one sided anti Labor propaganda campaign. And guess what....the Liberal Party won. Funny that.
    Pardelope
    19th Jan 2015
    6:58pm
    Tony Abbott would LOVE to be a "Sir" like Menzies.

    The ABC and SBS offer alternatives to the commercial stations which are aimed at "dumbing down" and entertaining "the lowest common denominator". All dictators - or would-be dictators hate free speech, open criticism, pointed comedy, or cartoons.

    If the Labor Party had not made such idiots of themselves with all their in-fighting, we would not be stuck with our current bunch of dangerous, snooty financially- motivated pollies.
    Huskie
    19th Jan 2015
    11:45am
    The only thing wrong with the Health System is that it is controlled by doctors and is a "closed shop"
    Doctors control who studies to be a doctor
    Doctors decide if they qualify to be a doctor
    Doctors decide if they can practice and what and where
    Doctors decide if they are competent to continue to practice
    Doctors investigate allegations of malpractice
    Doctors set the standards they must meet to practice
    They are small businesses but are put on pedestals by the Government and the public. The Government should what a Governor of a Canadian Provinces did when his son died because of delays in care because he had no insurance. Sack the lot of them! The Governor did and told them that if they wanted to practice in his province it would be on his terms.
    Patriot
    19th Jan 2015
    12:54pm
    Huskie,
    We, as most other countries in the world DO NOT have a HealthCare system.
    We have a SICKNESS CARE system that manages rather than CURES diseases.
    The old saying holds true: "There is no money to be made from healthy People".
    The government goes "Hand-in-Hand" with the Global Industrialists & BigPharma to ensure that Ilness remains "The Norm".
    Resources to Support ILLEGAL Wars started to Feed the Global Miletary Industry can be found and expended without approval from the Aust. people!.
    Such as opposed to supporting the Australian TaxPayer. LET Them "ROT in HELL".
    MICK
    19th Jan 2015
    1:34pm
    You may be right but still better than the US where the poor have to die in the gutter because they cannot afford health insurance so they do not get treated.
    The only real issue I have with doctors in Australia is that too many are allowed to rort the system (2 minute consultations) and they have control on hospital admissions. My wife a couple of years ago had a failed gall bladder and all the tests showed that this was serious. When I took her to see the local surgeon for removal he would only do this at his private hospital despite working in the public hospital. Essentially this mongrel was prepared to see my wife collapse and potentially die in the street so that he could line his grubby little pockets. Luckily I surgeon surfed and was fortunate enough to find and out of town doctor who did the work through the public system and the boss is now as fit as a fiddle. My thanks go to Ned who was a doctor before an entrepreneur.
    Patriot
    19th Jan 2015
    1:56pm
    Mick,
    They are working on the American model!
    Patriot
    19th Jan 2015
    2:50pm
    . . towards the American model . . . I should say
    rover
    19th Jan 2015
    12:24pm
    The health system could be spirited back into health by increasing the Medicare levy. Simple.
    Anonymous
    19th Jan 2015
    12:32pm
    I'd appreciate some details or ideas... how much and how much could be raised etc> Please.. just asking.
    MICK
    19th Jan 2015
    1:35pm
    I'd prefer our government to use taxpayer money better and not waste it because the option of getting more is just a matter of another tax. This is the problem.
    buby
    21st Jan 2015
    9:35pm
    well it would work if we had more IN employment, instead of on the dole>? but yes i believe too many are still rorting the system!
    Paddles
    22nd Jan 2015
    3:52pm
    It is never mentioned in discussion groups such as this one but there is a vast amount of money to be saved by controlling the system of defensive medicine.

    There are countless tests and procedures, almost always expensive, ordered by your GP so that, in the event of litigation, they can demonstrate that they have taken all possible steps to resolve ones health issues.

    Personally, I have been discharged from hospital on several occasions with test results a mere 24 hours old, only to have the same tests ordered by my GP when I consult him the next day. I say "I've just had those tests performed in hospital!" Answer....Yes but I need to have another look at them.

    Whatever regulatory or legislative change may be necessary, there remains a fortune to be saved in this area alone.

    19th Jan 2015
    12:29pm
    Overall, the malaise we are enduring is our current two parties at the top, and the lack of any genuine change to a party that will do what is best and not just carry on with ideological ideas.

    That said - it had to be obvious to anyone that imposing a reduction in rebate of $20 or levying $7 a visit were policy ideas doomed to failure. They should never have been even considered, which points a very heavy finger at this government's ability.

    Redneck's original post on page 8 of this strand explains it all:

    http://www.ozpolitic.com/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1421478770/12

    It appears that there is no real need for a change in Medicare on costings.. and someone makes the very real point that a single item in the Budget is NOT solely responsible for any 'debt' - any 'debt' which is also explained as 'government bonds' - i.e. not Debt at all.
    I will say again - the entire gamut of problems in any budget rests solidly on the foundation of a lack of sufficient jobs, meaning adequate and meaningful infrastructure over and above paid roads and railroads to nowhere to truck dirt to the ports etc to suit the operator of a mine. All of this waste of talent and money to suit a Banana Republic style of shipping off bananas by the boatload leaves this country with a serious problem of revenue via tax money - a situation not helped (or perhaps aided and abetted) by the current tax system that claims to benefit all by benefiting business.

    My infrastructure plans are extensive and involve genuine industrial infrastructure and modern technology run on 'alternative' energy... but I am just one voice crying in the wilderness - the wilderness of my grand plan for a manufacturing complex in the wilderness of the Pilbara.....
    Travellersjoy
    19th Jan 2015
    12:53pm
    Well said Grappler, in addition to a good article.

    We have a government running our country for everyone except Australians, and the best interests of Australia.

    Only foreign corporations, the carpet baggers and the rent seekers the LNP serves, can benefit from reducing us to a banana (primary production) republic.

    Already Coles and Woolworths have broken dairy farmers so Chinese and Gina Reinhart can buy them up.

    It's Time for the LNP to go. The next government is on notice. Corruption and lies will not be acceptable again.
    Tombo
    19th Jan 2015
    1:07pm
    That's interesting, Grappler. So government bonds are 'not debt at all'. Perhaps you could expand on that.
    Anonymous
    19th Jan 2015
    1:24pm
    I'll have to dig up the post on government bonds or find the user and get him to explain it to me again. Not totally up on that.. I think the issue is it is not 'money borrowed' but is 'money retained' from consolidated revenue or something. I need to check. Not up on everything - need a good staff to do all that....
    Anonymous
    19th Jan 2015
    1:27pm
    hah..... http://australiangovernmentbonds.gov.au/

    It seems bonds are traded on the market, hence do not become a debt. I still need to link that to his discussion point about how this relates to debt, but it seems that bonds, rather than being a debt upon government, are a trading opportuhity to garner revenue, yet are included as debt in budget calculations.
    MICK
    19th Jan 2015
    1:39pm
    This is why I keep trying to educate voters that voting for an Independent is the way forward.
    Both sides of politics hate the thought of losing absolute power and having to listen to those who represent voters instead. This is what Independents bring to the table. This is what the mainstream parties which are crammed with stooges who have no say cannot bear to hear.
    Tombo
    19th Jan 2015
    2:15pm
    Grappler, of course bonds are traded on the market - no one would buy them if they weren't. That doesn't absolve the government from paying periodic interest, and the full face value of the bond to the holder at maturity. Australian governments have so far been able to do that which is why we have a AAA rating. But because of the unwillingness of Labor and the Greens (and most of the commenters at this site) to face economic reality, our bond borrowings will grow and our interest payments will grow thus increasing our deficit further and imperiling that rating. If it slips we pay a greater interest rate. Don't kid yourself, bonds are very much debt. Just ask Greece or Argentina.
    Anonymous
    19th Jan 2015
    2:36pm
    I'm still young - still learning. Thanks Tombo. I'll look into this more closely.
    Blossom
    19th Jan 2015
    2:41pm
    Tombo, Do you know there is a company actually called Dairy Farmers? We need to find another way of expressing our meaning. I admit, I have to do so myself. I have no connection with the company at all. I just want people to be aware of it.
    ghoti
    19th Jan 2015
    2:58pm
    Tombo mentions "the unwillingness of Labor and the Greens (and most of the commenters at this site) to face economic reality". It seems to me that most people accept the need for budget restraint but 1. they don't believe that there was ever a "budget emergency" (even Hockey admitted that), 2. they object to the unfair way the government has been trying to achieve its objectives (hitting the poor more than the rich), and 3. they don't trust a PM or government that has blatantly and consistently lied to us. The electorate will support a responsible economic management plan that will, in time, bring the budget back into surplus. It has not supported, and won't, last year's crock of a budget.
    Tombo
    19th Jan 2015
    3:10pm
    ghoti, by 'responsible economic management plan' I assume you mean one which doesn't involve you having to pay more for government services.
    ghoti
    19th Jan 2015
    4:55pm
    Why would you assume that, Tombo? The word "responsible" implies a plan where the burden is shared by everyone (except, perhaps, by the poorest in our society). I would be happy to pay more in taxes provided that those wealthier than me also pay their fair share and that an honest attempt is made to close company tax loopholes.

    19th Jan 2015
    12:31pm
    Oh - I await with bated breath what 'changes' Ms Ley - one of those 'more caring' and 'bringing a different perspective to the issues' women..... I doubt it will be anything but more of the same old. Just another party mouthpiece with no real idea and probably not an original thought to add.... but let us wait and see.....
    Patriot
    19th Jan 2015
    12:33pm
    SoTony (& his clan) seems to meet with the approval of the Internationalists but proves to be "Stuffing Up" every national issue in an attempt to disadvantage the Australian taxpayer!
    The only conclusion I can draw from this is that the current government - as others before them but not quite to the same OBVIOUS extent - are adhering to the WILL of their foreign masters rather than adhering to the Australian Constitution.
    They certainly are not looking after the "Best interest of Australians" in the Short or long term.
    If such actions were viewed within the context of war, it would not be called any less than treason!
    MICK
    19th Jan 2015
    1:40pm
    Looking after the rich and their big business interests where they make their wealth. The rest of us are ants who are only important to elect governments, not to have a say though.
    Blossom
    19th Jan 2015
    6:25pm
    I know a lady who worked in a family business which assembled, sheds of various sizes using Australian Made Steel - it was stamped on the sheets of steel. They discovered it was a lot cheaper to buy our Australian Steel by the same size container load (and pay the freight) from overseas than buy it from a local company. He contacted the manufacturer to ensure the steel he bought from overseas was genuine. Yes, it was. Who is making the profit there?
    Patriot
    19th Jan 2015
    12:37pm
    I my opinion there is only ONE problem which is the cause of all the others.
    The BANKERS - Solve this problem and we will finally live in peace!

    The English & Dutch are certainly "leading the way" in such matters as the following link confirms.
    The Dutch who can be rather "Set in their Ways" even introduced Citizens Initiated Referendum in the 80s which was a MASSIVE STEP towards maintaining/regaining FREEDOM!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1WBhKWJjAk&feature=youtu.be&t=9s
    MICK
    19th Jan 2015
    1:42pm
    A referendum in Australia? Wouldn't that mean that a clear vote would be A MANDATE? We'll have none of that.....the public having a say?
    Anonymous
    19th Jan 2015
    1:50pm
    I've stated elsewhere that we are governed by Quislings and Fifth
    Columnists.. both 'sides' of The Tag Team.... both lost in some airy-fairy world of ideas and ideologies that involve selling Australia and Australians out for profit or for 'international brotherhood of equals' - equally poor that is for the majority.

    Even raising the costs of living via extra payments for 'privatised' roads and such is an insidious scheme. By rendering COL unsustainable, and wages along with them, which are ONLY high by comparison with other countries, pressure is brought to bear on that demon 'Wage Costs' - and thus the ideologically bound free range capitalist kind (neo-conservative) feels 'empowered' to attack this demon of high wages..... but not costs, since to do so would chop mates and cronies out of nice little earners on boards and such who, of course according to the ideology, EARN their magnificent munificence, while the Scum leaners and slackers do not.
    MICK
    19th Jan 2015
    2:35pm
    Australia has a sad tradition of being a follower rather than a leader in most areas of life. And then we do the unthinkable with no regard other than today. The latest betrayal from BOTH sides of politics is THE SALE OF FREEHOLD FARMING LAND TO FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS. No thought about the future other than the airy fairy ideology of those who are paid large sums of money to provide the best ideas to governments run by (mostly) brain dead politicians who you wouldn't trust with a simple errand let alone the running of the nation.
    Anonymous
    19th Jan 2015
    2:42pm
    I consistently state and abide by the simple rule that I would vote for none of them at this time - maybe a few Independents, though I have doubts after the Gillard debacle. It's not about pork-barreling and swinging a deal to form a government with Independents - it's about doing right by Australia.
    MICK
    19th Jan 2015
    4:29pm
    I understand the frustration but you have to vote for somebody lest you get what we currently have to endure. It is up to people to fix this mess by not being taken in with propaganda coming from the two main parties.
    A friend once told me: "it doesn't matter who you vote for. Vote for Billy the Blacksmith. There are highly paid public servants who do all the work anyway and politicians only make a choice based on the facts in front of them"
    The conclusion is that pollies really might be able to stumble through with half a brain. Indeed many of those we have fit this bill anyway.
    Voting for an Independent achieves 2 purposes:
    1. It frightens the crap out of Liberal and Labor....which results in their act being cleaned up.
    2. It brings in people who are not stooges filling a seat but with no voice.
    So what you gonna do?????
    Adrianus
    20th Jan 2015
    1:14pm
    mick, in point 1. do you have any evidence where the crap was frightened out of Liberal or Labor on the last 10 years?
    Point 2. whether a stooge or not they still vote, therefor they have a voice. Who are the Independents who are not stooges? I mean apart from Xenaphon and Wilkie?
    tia-maria
    19th Jan 2015
    12:52pm
    Our Politicians have to much control in things they don't understand..........Go back to the early days when Hospitals had their own board of directors who control in the running of their hospital...........politicians screw up so many projects and to get out of their mess......THEY SELL PROPERTIES .........WE OWN......... to pay for their bad management.......
    Patriot
    19th Jan 2015
    1:23pm
    tia-naria,
    Should the expression of "Bad Management" be replaced with "Planned Management"?
    Anonymous
    19th Jan 2015
    1:40pm
    Planned Mismanagement...
    MICK
    19th Jan 2015
    1:43pm
    More like no accountability and management which in the public system would see governments in this country in receivership.
    Patriot
    19th Jan 2015
    2:11pm
    The Scam seems to be:
    1) The Public Resource is totally mismanged (purposely?) so that it's value is reduced as it becomes a burden rather than an asset
    2) Then this same resource is sold for a very low value to the International Industrialists
    3) Suddenly the resource becomes valuable & extremely profitable again because it is now managed wisely & competently
    4) The Minister who WAS in charge of the management of this resource is now employed by the Industrial complex at a rather excessive salary/remuneration
    CONCLUSION: "This minister must have showed promise in his/her abilities in order to be employed by the Inductrialists!
    MICK
    19th Jan 2015
    1:15pm
    So here is the next nail in the coffin for this government.
    It appears only a matter of time before Tony Abbott goes the way of Kevin Rudd. I wonder if the biased mainstream media with their clear political agenda will treat Abbott's successor like they did Julia Gillard? I doubt it.
    Anonymous
    19th Jan 2015
    2:44pm
    No matter - his lifetime income for being a total brick for years is secure and he will slip neatly into a few of those lovely 'board' positions that just happen to fall from the skies at huge cost to the end user.... again.
    dougie
    19th Jan 2015
    1:18pm
    At last the voice of reason. Why can't we all have our say and others accept that this is our opinion which we are entitled to as they are to theirs, without the continued aggressive - rude and belittling condemnation just because it does not meet with someone else's opinion.

    Everyone has a right to expect politeness and civility as after all it is only a place to express ones thoughts and perhaps learn from others. This I find is the most enjoyable part of the site.
    MICK
    19th Jan 2015
    1:46pm
    I hope that I am not on your hit list dougie. Whilst I probably qualify my issue is NEVER with the opinion if it is made with an honest belief and not on behalf of a political party: the Liberal Party on this website.
    Have you noticed that the paid trolls have not posted here yet? Tells a story.
    dougie
    19th Jan 2015
    5:41pm
    Mick, I do not have a hit list just a sense of justice and free speech for all. I just want people to be able to speak their mind without being ridiculed for their thoughts. The way some people react it seems that we are in a Russian or Nazi environment where to have an individual thought is a crime.
    Kato
    19th Jan 2015
    5:57pm
    Hear Hear Dougie . Ill second that. They prey on the human conscience. Not as a strength or weakness but a convenient vulnerability to be exploited. void of compassion for there fellow human being.
    Polly Esther
    19th Jan 2015
    1:32pm
    Poor old Tone,whatever will he try to pass next? Wind perhaps. If he gets blocked on that it's likely he will finish up needing to see a doctor. He should be OK though because it will surely be a long visit.
    Sorry folks, a bit of levity, much ado about nothing really.
    MICK
    19th Jan 2015
    1:48pm
    Methinks poor old Tone is terminal.
    Given that he cannot win the next election on current polls it appears only a matter of time before we see a new leader.
    Polly Esther
    19th Jan 2015
    2:03pm
    Yes mick I think so too, even his gait is looking more and more like John Wayne.
    tia-maria
    19th Jan 2015
    3:29pm
    mick, sorry your Liberal party going down hill big times.....remember mates trust no political side.........
    MICK
    19th Jan 2015
    4:31pm
    tia maria: I think you may have gotten that wrong.
    Tom Tank
    19th Jan 2015
    2:36pm
    Some well informed comment so far but to me the crux of the matter is the blinkered ideology of the LNP who appear to be following the extreme right wing prodding of people like the Institute of Public Affairs.
    They are working to dismantle Medicare and any other publicly owned enterprise irrespective of how well it serves us, the Australian Public.
    They are also doing their best to wipe out any publicly funded organisation that is in any way critical of their policies, irrespective of the correctness of that criticism.
    Getting rid of Abbott still leaves his fellow travelers minding the shop so what would actually change??
    Patriot
    19th Jan 2015
    2:42pm
    Agree,
    On election day we ONLY elect the PUPPETS!
    We do not change the SHADOW GOVERNMENT which controls the puppets!!!
    disillusioned
    19th Jan 2015
    2:40pm
    What a disaster - Medicare 'reform' has been. Why are they trying to scrap a system that works well and is very efficient? We are going down the track of an Americanised health system which costs more and has poor outcomes. Could the reason be that there has been policy of privatizing our public health services by both the Federal and State governments.

    In NSW we are seeing many new hospitals & existing hospital/health services being built by Public Private Partnerships.

    Private operators have a duty to their shareholders to make profits so where are the cuts to our existing services going to be made? Less staff? Less services? Or more expensive services/tests and diagnostics? Outsourcing of cleaning?

    This is all happening while we are sleeping - very quietly and sold with weasel words. Be afraid of the huge gaps you will have to pay for treatment out of your own pocket - even with the top health insurance cover. It's frightening.
    Patriot
    19th Jan 2015
    2:45pm
    The Shadow Government moves Insidiously!
    Are our ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES also sleeping or are they just garding the process in order to ensure that it unfolds as the SHADOW GOVERNMENT demands?
    Blossom
    19th Jan 2015
    2:53pm
    I went to the Dr. last Thursday because I had a very painful earache and swollen glands. It took as long for him to process the prescription as it did examine me and to explain the cause of it. So long that I got a bill for a standard consult instead of a short one.
    tia-maria
    19th Jan 2015
    3:35pm
    Engy, that's happening every were (in our practice we pay up front, never been bulk billing for the retired pensioners................But many mistakes will be over looked and patients health will be at risk??.....last week I was reading that 10 minutes visit is long enough by some politician.............Doctor patient care also being screwed up by the so call useless politicians
    Blossom
    19th Jan 2015
    6:12pm
    Same here. If we pay up front the Medical Centre I go to will send the account through to Medicare by computer. If Medicare has your bank account occasionally you get the refund into your bank account the same day if your appt, is reasonably early in the morning. I have used to Debit Card at the Dr. a few times. That and refund have been the same date. I double checked it. I thought I was seeing things.
    Oldie87
    19th Jan 2015
    4:44pm
    Oh if only we had people like Grappler and Patriot etc running this Country. How well would be of. With them and all Independents in Parliament we could be a veritable El Dorado were no one would have to work, all would be funded by Heaven and we would live happily ever after.
    Grow up you lot, Fairytales are for children.
    Kato
    19th Jan 2015
    6:02pm
    As compared to the loony left or the off the rails right? me thinks not. would you not say the on the run ad hoc policies over the last ten months. Seem to have come from some deluded minds.
    Oldie87
    19th Jan 2015
    6:22pm
    I don't quite agree with the 'ad hoc' bit. Sure things could have been expressed and proposed a lot better but when trying to deal withe gaggle of opinions at present in the Senate I would think a lot falls by the wayside. Really I don't know why any one would want to be a Politician.
    Blossom
    19th Jan 2015
    6:43pm
    From another angle in the Health Care/Hospital system, some private hospitals in SA have emergency depts. If you go to one of them instead of a public hospital some of them you pay $280.00 or $220.00 if you are a pensioner. You cannot claim any of it back from Medicare or Private Health Fund. If you were admitted you weren't charged. If you had yo return within a certain amount of time with the same problem you weren't charged. Now some of the Emergency Depts. in private hospitals are run by another company so you pay whether you are admitted or not. One of the hospitals in Adelaide asks for payment as soon as you go in, even if you are rushed in by ambulance (siren and lights). If you don't have cash they ask for your card If you are sent to a Private Hospital with a letter from your GP you still pay the fee. If a portion could be claimed from Medicare people would be prepared to use the private ones and lessen the waiting times for everybody at the Public Hospitals.
    Pardelope
    19th Jan 2015
    7:07pm
    A friend of mine had a heart attack some years ago whilst travelling in the USA. He was kept on a gurney in the entrance foyer whilst he contacted a business partner in the UK. Only when it had been confirmed that she had successfully transferred money to them - and promised to pay all costs - was he admitted to the Emergency Department. He had stupidly decided not to take out travel insurance AND assumed he would be admitted and treated - and later pay the (gi-normous) bills. Wrong! Money is everything - and that is what Abbott and co want it to become here in Australia - the not so lucky country.
    Billyboy
    19th Jan 2015
    7:10pm
    This is all very confusing and complicated because politics has been introduced into the equation. Some comments reflect the writers political views rather than focusing on solving the problem. I am learning to discount some contributor's comment because of their bias.
    We have a problem and need a solution not someone to blame.
    It is here and now.
    I cannot see why people should expect a service and not put their hands into their pockets. There is no free coffee or alcohol so $7.00 to see a doctor is not outrageous.
    Have a look around and you will see that we live very well, good houses & cars and no-one seems short when you see some supermarket trolleys. How much is spent on tattoos, everyone seems to have one.
    I admit that I do see some people who are badly off but if I see cigarettes & tattoos they do not get my sympathy. They have made some bad choices and do not have anyone other than themselves to blame.
    The old, sick and poor need help but there are too many bludgers in the system.
    The image of an Aussie is no longer a lean, suntanned countryman not valid. Now it is some-one standing with their hand out. Be proud and brave and stand on your own two feet. Be master of your own destiny as much as you can.
    No doubt this will bring swarms of critics so come on.
    My particular beef with the medical system is that so much is not disclosed. If you see a bulk billing doctor you do not see what has been charged. I have been in hospital and the account goes straight through to me healthcare provider without me seeing the account. Not that I don't trust them but I don't even get a record of the service provided. The only way to find out is by going on to the Medicare or healthcare website. You get more detail from your mechanic after a car service.
    Not Senile Yet!
    19th Jan 2015
    7:19pm
    Grow up??? Really....and get a closed off mind that can't see past one's nose!!!!
    No thank you!!!
    Can remember my oldies telling me that as a teen when I challenged the status quo......only to be told pull my head in....or grow up!!!
    That statement only comes when a proper explanation or reply is not available......you grow up and supply a proper answer/explanation as to the WHY everything has to be privatised and then it becomes twice as expensive as it was when it was not!!!!
    Please explain why the Governments keep increasing taxation but can never balance their budgets!!!
    Explain why it is necessary to always make cuts or cut jobs just because they cannot balance the books???
    Currently the Government get more Tax than any previous Government ever has......expends far less...because it has sold everything off......accepts no responsibility for having made FREE TRADE deals that continue to cost local jobs......who are they kidding????
    I know far too many who have been forced to close small business that employed 10 to 20 people because they cannot compete with cheap imports from free trade agreements done behind closed doors.
    As to Medicare and cost over runs......perhaps they should address the fact that the majority of Pensioners and Minimum wage employees simply cannot AFFORD to pay Private Health Insurance....which just keeps increasing beyond the inflation rate!!!!
    Medicare would save millions if more could afford to have Private Health Insurance.......maybe enough to half the waiting cues for the rest who will never afford it!!!!
    No....they never balance the budget....just as they never know any alternative but to cut slash and burn what took years to build!!!!
    Sack the Lot of them!!!!
    Stop voting for the Corrupt Party Machines & their Puppets!!!!
    Heaven forbid...but even the alternative of Independants could not do worse!!!!
    tia-maria
    19th Jan 2015
    9:05pm
    Not Senile Yet,......... The only thing our politicians can balance is their own wagers and perks after politics,......... and in fact these are the mongrels that are ripping off the voters of Australia......
    carmencita
    19th Jan 2015
    9:49pm
    The Abbott govt allows its advisors to plan for changes on aspects that are working. Are these advisors experienced or are in touched with everyday Australians and how they struggle with everyday living? Or are they just having a great fun receiving great salaries and bonuses when they produce policy papers that looked good for the party they are serving instead of serving Australians who are paying their salaries?
    Dotty
    19th Jan 2015
    10:50pm
    I couldn't agree more with you JohnJax ! I really couldn't 'ave written or said it any better
    I think that Tony Abbott should take notice of his Senators instead of trying to go it alone, as his judgement leave a lot to be desired!
    Dotty
    Bemused
    19th Jan 2015
    11:58pm
    Clearly everyone is sounding off with personal ingrained political beliefs, most of which are based on how we spent our lives and on how much biased information we have been fed and have chosen to believe.

    Instead of venting useless frustration and demonstrating political blindness, how about every contributor to this site join together and figure out a new and financially viable budget for the country.
    When we achieve agreement, and have very definite expenditure plan related to Australia's national income, then we take it to our elected government and insist that the plan be implemented immediately.
    I feel very certain that both Shorten and Abbott will jump at the chance to have a budget plan that everyone agrees is fair, and fits within our National Income.
    Once we achieve that, none of us will feel cheated or abused by a system that we can call unfair.
    Happiness and contentment is within our reach.

    Will you join me?

    Or do you think it might be safer and easier to just go on complaining and being abusive about politicians who just do not seem to have the talent to see the obvious and act upon it?

    Where shall we start? Someone have any ideas? Sensible workable ideas, not just political propaganda and abuse?

    Bemused
    dougie
    20th Jan 2015
    7:44am
    Bemused,

    I would join with you if I thought that you could find 3 people in a room who would agree in toto to any proposition, whether it was political - economic or social. We each have our own agenda and generally tend not to want to listen to others.

    I would put forward a proposal that there be no GST no Income tax as today and no general taxes. There should be a levy placed on every expenditure with no exceptions of say up to 25% as a tax. This would ensure that each and everyone paid their share including the economic giants and large industries. What do you think?
    dougie
    20th Jan 2015
    8:11am
    Bemused,
    Just a little rider to my suggestion of an expenditure tax rather than an income tax.
    1. With todays computer and banking systems this tax could be paid directly to the Commonwealth when paid either at time of purchase or on payment of an account.
    2. It would encourage people to utilise the financial system to care for their savings as there would be no taxes paid on the income.
    3. This would ensure that as much money as possible was available to business and industry with a lower need to borrow from overseas.
    4. Any expenditure overseas would be treated as if it were within Australia and would generate more jobs etc and not allow the big boys to escape their share of taxes.
    Stoker
    20th Jan 2015
    8:41am
    Bemused and Dougie, didn't someone back a few years ago suggest that instead of all these different rates of taxes for this or that or whatever -- instead a 2% (I think) on every transaction, banking and buying, ie you buy a mercedes plus 2% or buy a Mini plus 2% etc etc , but dont think the tax office would like that cos there would be no work for them, ha ha .
    dougie
    20th Jan 2015
    8:44am
    Oh yes there would be Stoker - there would be those to administer - manage and police.
    Patriot
    20th Jan 2015
    9:50am
    Dougie,
    It is not the disagreement that is the problem I believe.
    It is the disregard & disrespect for anybody elses opinion and for the Human being as a whole that is the problem.
    Our "GREED DRIVEN" society believes that they MUST BE ABLE to express themselves without any regard how such action affects others. Such is the "Dog eat Dog" mentality that is promoted and supports the "Fierce & Deadly" mentality that is "Brought to Bear" upon our society & communities driven from our masters.

    I, for one, will "Fiercely Stand-Up for & Defend" my personal Rrights & Freedoms. However, I also adhere to the principle that such "Rights & Freedoms" MUST NOT & CANNOT be ISOLATED from the duties that they (should) automatically invoke.
    That is: "The right of others to enjoy the same!". No matter if such individuals are Tony & Joe or the "Black Kid" in the slums of an African "Shanty Town".
    Freedom, Respect & Dignity for all!
    If only we did not have war, these funds could be re-directed to eradicate the "Shanti Towns".
    However, I do not want to limit such attitude to humans only but extend such to the environment & everything in it. We are just a small fragment in "the web of Life" which is so essential for the support of the ability & opportunity for us to live our lives with dignity.
    Corporatism - with all its GREED and CONTROL mechanisms- has managed to disconnect us from our environment very effeciently & effectively in order to ensure that they could "Plunder, Rape, Use & Abuse" it to their hearts content!
    Only the courage & Conviction to eradicate the "Corporate Evil" will ensure a dignified and quality life for our childern as opposed to the SLAVERY which is ensnaring & engulfing the human culture currently.

    "No one is more of a slave than he who thinks himself free without being so".
    GOETHE
    dougie
    20th Jan 2015
    11:00am
    Patriot,

    I think that I understand you and agree with what you are saying, which is basically "respect to others and their rights as citizens of this world".
    Mrw
    20th Jan 2015
    8:52am
    The present government seems incapable of using the tools and skill and resources at their disposal. Their consistent resort to obfuscation, no transparency, and sheer lack of credible evidence based foundations for their arbitrary and largely ideological policies is the major reason fir their ever declining credibility. The lack of any shared sound evidence base and impact assessments..readily available using tools created -and used-by or previous governments makes the engagement with the community ever more fragile.

    The moment susan key was appointed I asked her to use these tools and resources to craft a credible basis fir discussing impacts and outcomes and behaviors winners and losers...but of course no response..exactly what one expects of a government to unskilled in even their core function of politics .. One can however hope that a small measure of less ideological and under analysed policy fir nation processes might be undertaken instead of the interminable quixotic 'captains calls'(usually presaged by sudden reversals of confident arbitrary nostrums...
    When oh when are we to see the first Green shots (pun unintended) of 'grown up government'?
    Just another routinely broken promise?

    The sad thing is that we as a community have a remarkably good overall system, albeit with already very high 'price signals' built in especially in pharmacy, yet no serious debate seems to be possible with this 'faith based' government.. If on,y we could find done evidence on which to share this faith!
    Until then I fesr fir the survival of the medical system from the ideological hatred of certain segments of the LNP. This egg will be hard to reassemble later and at gargantuan cost
    Bemused
    20th Jan 2015
    12:06pm
    Hello Everybody,

    Thanks for the responses, but I was not talking about changing Taxation (that is a whole separate discussion).
    I am suggesting that we sit down with accurate knowledge of the total amount of income available to the Government (any government), and try to agree on how that income should be divided up between all the various interests in the this Country.
    We can ONLY SPEND the amounts that we have as income. Because the same as with every individual person on Earth, Governments cannot go on, indefinitely, borrowing to fund recurring expenditure over and above income. There will always be a day of reckoning when no more can be borrowed, and the lenders will demand repayment with catastrophic results. See other countries around the World.
    The great deception is that all this reckless expenditure benefits ordinary people, but the inevitable, disastrous economic outcome is ALWAYS carried by the ordinary people.

    I do not personally support as a matter of habit, any particular political group. I grew up in a devoutly Labor household where every trouble was blamed on those vague "them", "those" "wealthy" "greedy" "capitalist/corporate criminals". Never on our own personal actions.
    I have bee disappointed in Labor and Liberal parties, and find myself unable to take the Greens very seriously.
    It does however seem to me that Labor has absolutely no regard for staying within it's income limits.
    LNP has absolutely no regard for spending up to it's income limits.
    The Greens have absolutely no connection to reality at all, with no viable solutions to anything.
    Independents are simply an unworkable collection of vested interest individuals, who in true human fashion will never reach the best solution for the country as a whole.
    But all of the foregoing is the fuel of endless inane debate.

    I am interested in hearing how all of us armchair experts will go about organising the expenditure of Australia's total income, so that everybody is happy; or at least not miserable.
    Any real ideas?

    Bemused
    Oldie87
    20th Jan 2015
    12:39pm
    Bemused, you are approaching things with a very rational and common sense perspective. Unfortunately it doesn't work, it should, but....
    Just reading the comments here and following various news stories there are always groups who think they should not be touched. NIMBY syndrome. It doesn't matter where you look, demands for funding, special treatment is in the forefront. How this can be overcome? no one seems to know. Good Luck for trying to start a rational debate.
    Anonymous
    20th Jan 2015
    9:46pm
    bemused -good comments - I just finished reading Hal Colebatch Australia secret war - should be a must read for everyone and schools - the disgraceful conduct of the unions during the war was nothing short of treason. Today I read an article on Tim Blair blog where labor opposition leader commented about the sale of public assets and said it was no good because th companies are only interested in profits - this is the problem with labor philosophy - no idea how a democractic economy works - you know since 1901 in 7 out of 10 years a conservative government has governed In Australia - the only wonder to me is the number isn't as high as 9 out of evdery 10. I am sure PM Abbott will get his teams act together - the country does not need any more of the incompetence and waste of taxpayers money that the 6 disasterous years of labor gave us - in my time 1950 on we ave only had 3 incompetent governments - Whitlam, Rudd and Gillard - all tried to send the country broke.
    buby
    21st Jan 2015
    9:28pm
    GEEz Debbie WE oldies have known this for ages, That the Health system is in dissaray. What! HOw stupid do they really think we are>>????
    jessej
    23rd Jan 2015
    5:43am
    I think Medicare should be done away with and let everyone PAY to see their doctor,I would willing pay even though I am on a pension,it is mainly the under sixty mob that won't pay for their doctor visit,I am from the old school when I lived in Victoria when you even had to pay when you went to see a doctor in the out patients at the Royal Melbourne and Eye & Ear hospitals so stop your moaning
    Jacks
    23rd Jan 2015
    1:20pm
    Do you think that changes to the health system, Medicare in particular, are called for? No there is no evidence even from the governments own research that medicare is unsustainable.

    s there a need for greater government consultation with stakeholders before making fundamental policy changes? Yes but arrogantly the prime minister believes he is carrying out the will of the Australian public. His attitude will never change.

    Is Tony Abbott on the right track with his management of the country and economy, or is it time for him to take stock and a new direction?

    Definitely on the wrong track. The government budget is nothing like our personal budget, business budget, or state government budget. We do not have a budget emergency but we do face an emergency of skilled labour, ecological concerns, infrastructure, technology and natural resources.

    Our government is a monetary sovereign. Meaning it is a currency issuing center government and can print it's own money and cannot run out of money. They can spend too much money that is beyond the productive cycle of the economy.

    Your taxes are not used to fund infrastructure, this is not how the government earns it's money, . Taxes are used to keep inflation down and to manage interest rates.

    For Australia there is no such thing as a sustainable budget surplus. When the government is in surplus the private sector including you and I are in huge amounts of personal debt. That is the only way to create a surplus.

    Governments such as ours have nearly always run deficits and will continue to do so, it does not imply hyperinflation. The government can spend and tax as necessary to limit inflation all the while running a deficit.

    The people of Australia were sold a lemon "the budget emergency'. Money flows around the economy not into a piggy bank and out again. In reality if the government paid back all of it's financial liabilities we'd have no financial system, there would be no money. Balancing the budget for the government has never been true.
    Oldie87
    23rd Jan 2015
    1:59pm
    OK Jacks, I'll bite.
    What happened to Greece then?
    Jacks
    23rd Jan 2015
    2:26pm
    What happened to Greece won't happen to us. They are not a sovereign currency issuing government like we are. They joined the Eurozone and signed away their fate. The same with Argentina, they went broke because they locked away their currency into a broad system. I pesos = 1 American Dollar forever. When you do that you are basically making the same decision Greece did. From then on you can only borrow in Foreign Currency. Australia does not have that problem
    Pamiea
    24th Jan 2015
    3:05pm
    I THINK TONY ABBOTT IS AN ABSOLUTE DISASTER - A WALKING TIME BOMB. OBVIOUSLY IT SEEMS THAT MEDICARE IS DRAINING OUR COFFERS BUT WHY DONT WE STOP PAYING POLLIES AFTER THEY RETIRE AND TAKE AWAY ALL THEIR BENEFITS, STOP PAYING JUDGES WHEN THEY RETIRE AND OTHER GOVERNMENT WORKERS. ITS AN ABSOLUTE DISGUSTING RORT OF THE SYSTEM. LOOK OUT FOR THE TAX CHEATS AS I AM SURE THERE ARE MANY - AGAIN ANOTHER DISGUSTING RORT IS PEOPLE WITH FAMILY TRUSTS WHERE THEY ALLOCATE THEIR MONEY TO ALL THEIR FAMILY AND THEREFORE LOWER THEIR TAXES. A LOT OF RICH PEOPLE ALSO HAVE FARMING PROPERTIES OR SIMILAR THAT THEY OFFSET AS A LOSS THUS MAKING THEIR TAX IMPLICATION LESS - STOP ALL THESE RORTS SET UP BY AND USED BY WEALTHY PEOPLE AND LEAVE THE AVERAGE JOE BLOW ALONE. I GET FED UP WITH THE DISGUSTING RICH PEOPLE POLICIES AND BEING SCREWED OVER BECAUSE I AM NOT ONE OF THEM AND GIVEN MY CIRCUMSTANCES COULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ONE.


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