Can You Help?

This website is in imminent danger of being shut down. It has been online since 1995, but the personal circumstances of the owner, Malcolm Farnsworth, are such that economies have to be made. Server costs and suchlike have become prohibitive. At the urging of people online, I have agreed to see if Patreon provides a solution. More information is available at the Patreon website. If you are able to contribute even $1.00/month to keep the site running, please click the Patreon button below.


Become a Patron!


Treasurer Scott Morrison Delivers 2017 Federal Budget

The Treasurer, Scott Morrison, has delivered the Turnbull government’s second Budget, forecasting a return to surplus in four years, abandoning stalled budget cuts, guaranteeing Medicare and the PBS, incresing the Medicare levy and imposing a new levy on the commercial banks.

The Budget also includes provisions for first home buyers to salary sacrifice into their superannuation. It includes a crackdown on welfare recipients.

The Budget marks a break with the Abbott years. It abandons the “zombie” cuts stalled in the Senate whilst increasing spending in traditional Labor areas. Morrison said it was a “reset”.

  • Listen to Scott Morrison deliver the Budget (32m)
  • Watch Morrison (32m)

Budget Documents – PDF downloads

17-05-09_budget-speech


Sussan Ley Stands Aside From Ministry; Investigation Into Gold Coast Travel Expenses

The Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, has stood aside from the Turnbull ministry, pending an investigation into her travel expenses.

Ley

The Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet will investigate her travel expenses in relation to visits to the Gold Coast over the past couple of years. During one visit, Ley purchased an investment property. The Health department will also conduct an investigation.

Ley will stand aside without ministerial pay, until the investigation is completed. Senator Arthur Sinodinos will act as Minister for Health and Aged Care, and Minister for Sport.

At her press conference in Albury, Ley denied any wrongdoing.  In a statement issued yesterday, she apologised for an “error of judgement”.

Ley is the first ministerial casualty of the Turnbull government since last year’s election. After replacing Tony Abbott in September 2015, Turnbull lost three ministers in his first five months as prime minister.

Statement from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Travel claims by the Minister for Health

Today I have asked the Secretary of my Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet for advice in relation to the Statement of Ministerial Standards relating to travel claims made by the Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport, the Hon Sussan Ley MP. [Read more…]


Bob Hawke Does Medicare Advertisement For ALP Campaign

Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke has appeared in a Labor Party advertisement on Medicare.

It was Hawke’s government that introduced the current Medicare scheme after winning the 1983 federal election. Medicare came into operation in 1984. It was essentially the same scheme legislated by the Whitlam government in 1974 but dismantled by the Fraser government after 1975.

In the advertisement, Hawke warns against the privatisation of Medicare. He says that the only reason for establishing a taskforce to investigate privatisation is if you intend to do just that. [Read more…]


Premiers Rebel Over Federal Budget Cuts; Demand COAG Meeting Before July 1

The States have rebelled over Federal Government Budget cuts, claiming that the impact will be felt on July 1, and demanding Prime Minister Tony Abbott convene a COAG meeting before then.

Newman

The State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers met in Sydney today at a meeting called by the Queensland LNP Premier, Campbell Newman. The Western Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, was the only leader not to attend. [Read more…]


Health Minister Peter Dutton Won’t Comment On Medicare Levy Speculation

The Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, has refused to comment on speculation that the Commission of Audit will recommend a Medicare co-payment for bulk-billed patients.

Dutton“We won’t be commenting on speculation around what the Commission of Audit may or may not recommend,” Dutton said.

Media speculation this week has suggested consideration of a $5 upfront co-payment for bulk-billed GP patients. The speculation suggests savings of around $700 million a year can be made by introducing the co-payment.

The idea is said to apply to families after they have made 12 visits to a GP in any year. Pensioners and health card holders would be exempt.

The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Penny Wong, described the proposal as a tax on health care and said the Abbott government is not the government voters thought they were getting. [Read more…]


Napthine Says He Won’t Introduce Or Support Legislation To Restrict Abortions

The Victorian Premier, Denis Napthine, has released a video statement in which he says he will not introduce or support abortion legislation to restrict a woman’s right to choose.

The statement comes after today’s decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions to drop all criminal charges against Frankston MLA Geoff Shaw over alleged rorting of his travel entitlements.

The DPP’s decision ensures that the government will not face a risky by-election which would have ensued if Shaw had been convicted. The government has a one-seat majority in the Legislative Assembly and relies on Shaw’s vote. Elected as a Liberal, Shaw now sits as an independent after he resigned from the parliamentary party earlier this year and precipitated the resignation of former premier Ted Baillieu.

Shaw is engaged in a battle with the Assembly Speaker, Ken Smith, who last week protected the government’s position by expelling two Labor members and thereby guaranteeing the government’s survival until the new year. Smith’s survival as Speaker beyond January will be keenly watched in 2014.

There has been speculation that Shaw wants legislation to undo or restrict the decriminalisation of abortion that was passed on a conscience vote five years ago. At the time, Napthine opposed the legislation whilst Baillieu supported it.

With next year’s election now less than a year away, Napthine appears keen to take the abortion issue off the political agenda.

  • Watch Napthine’s video statement (1m)

Medicare 30th Anniversary

Medicare is 30 years old today.

MedicareThe legislation to establish the universal health insurance system was passed on this day in 1983, six months after the election of the Hawke Labor government.

As it still still does today, Medicare is partly funded by a 1.5% levy on all taxpayers. It allows doctors to provide medical care at no cost to patients through bulk billing. Alternatively, Medicare reimburses patients 85% of a scheduled fee which allows doctors to determine their own charges with patients paying the balance. Medicare also provides for basic public hospital cover with patients able to take out additional private insurance. Health professionals with a Medicare provider number are also included in the scheme.

Medicare’s history begins with Gough Whitlam in the 1970s. The health insurance scheme was developed by health economist Richard Scotton and John Deeble. Under Whitlam, the scheme was called Medibank and was a major plank in Whitlam’s 1972 election platform. [Read more…]


Julie Owens Rebukes Media Over Coverage Of Opinion Polls And Leadership

Frustration over opinion polls and leadership speculation was on display today at the Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research.

The Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, was obviously irritated by media questions about the Nielsen poll released today. Almost speechless, Plibersek allowed the Labor member for Parramatta, Julie Owens, to take over and deliver a rebuke to the gathered media about medical research and children’s health.


Owens holds Parramatta with a margin of 4.37%. She suffered a 5.49% swing against her at the 2010 election. She has held the seat since 2004.



Swan Continues Attacks On Campbell Newman Cuts

For the second day running, Treasurer Wayne Swan has focussed on Queensland government budget cuts and their effect on unemployment and the national economy.

Swan

At a Brisbane media conference, Swan quoted from Queensland Budget papers which itemised $3 billion worth of cuts to health funding and 2,754 full-time job losses. [Read more…]


Full Text Of COAG Communique

This is the full text of the Council of Australian Governments Communique issued after today’s meeting of first ministers in Canberra.

COAG press conference

Full text of the COAG Communique released following today’s meeting of federal, state and territory first ministers.

Council of Australian Governments Meeting – Communiqué

Canberra, 7 December 2012

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) held its 34th meeting in Canberra today, 20 years to the day since its first meeting in Perth in 1992. The Prime Minister, Premiers, Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) participated in today’s meeting. The Leaders welcomed Northern Territory Chief Minister, the Hon Terry Mills MLA and President of ALGA, Felicity-ann Lewis to their first COAG meeting.

COAG also reiterated its commitment to focus its attention on policy reforms of national significance, and to keep its agenda as streamlined as possible.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

COAG reaffirmed its ongoing commitment to a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) by signing an intergovernmental agreement for its first stage. The agreement provides the foundation for all governments to work together to develop and implement the initial phase of the NDIS. The lessons learned in implementing the first stage will inform governments about proceeding to a full scheme by:

  • setting out shared roles and responsibilities for working collaboratively on the policy for a full scheme;
  • establishing the new Standing Council on Disability Reform, with representation from all jurisdictions, which – from 1 January 2013 – will be responsible for making decisions and formulating advice on matters arising from the launch and related to the transition to a full scheme; and
  • setting in place arrangements for the review and evaluation of the first stage which will inform the transition to a full scheme.

COAG noted the historic agreement between the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments to establish the full NDIS in New South Wales by 1 July 2018. The Commonwealth noted that it looks forward to concluding agreements on the same terms with all other governments.

In addition, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory signed bilateral agreements with the Commonwealth which confirm the operational and funding details for the roll-out of the NDIS in each launch site. From this time, under the launch arrangements, people with a disability, their families and carers will start to benefit from a fairer, more sustainable and equitable approach to supporting people with disability. Discussions on further launch sites are continuing. [Read more…]