Thursday, December 04, 2014

Review Of The Ongoing Post - Budget Controversy 04th December 2014. It Just Got Worse!

Budget Night was on Tuesday 13th May, 2014 and the fuss has still not settled by a long shot. Indeed some commentators are wondering out loud if the Abbot Government will last for a second term.
It is amazing how the discussion on the GP Co-Payment just runs and runs. Lots  more this week with the Government seemingly in disarray and internal division.
Here are some of the more interesting articles I have spotted this 27th week since it was released.
Tony Abbott is still complaining just how hard it is being to make budget progress and reports of huge budget blowout also featured - said to now be $40B ++++.
All in all, right now most of the Government is looking like a rabble. Even The Australian and Andrew Bolt seem worried about what might happen next!
See here:
and here:
I would never have believed it. Has Rupert spoken?

Thursday Update:

PBS Co-payment increases seem to have been abandoned and the Medicare Co-Payment is presently in total limbo - I still have no idea what is happening with it. AMA worried the bulk billing incentives might be at risk. Very bad news if true. 
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General.

Audit as GP super clinics face financial scrutiny

dburdon | 24th Nov 2014 8:22 AM
EVERY GP Super Clinic in the country, including one in Mackay, faces extra financial scrutiny through a tender for an independent audit that could lead to some clinic closures.
The 61 clinics proposed and already operating under the multi-billion program, which Health Minister Peter Dutton has previously labelled a "waste of money", will be reviewed under a tender sought for independent advice by the Health Department.
It comes as the Department also prepares to give Mr Dutton the final report of an over-arching review of the GP Super Clinics Program next month, which has already resulted in three clinics closing.
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WA Health Department budget to be cut next year, AMA says

Mon 24 Nov 2014, 8:31pm
Health Department cuts are expected in Western Australia's next budget, according to the Australian Medical Association (AMA), which has been told to prepare for the changes.
A high-powered committee is looking at ways to rein in Health Department spending, including significant structural change.
The AMA said it had been told by the Minister to expect the worst in next year's budget.
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Budget turns on final sitting fortnight

Date November 24, 2014 - 7:48PM

Mark Kenny

Chief political correspondent

Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott are hoping a re-alignment of crossbench numbers and a worsening revenue picture might lead to a more cooperative parliament entering the final sitting fortnight of 2014. As the Treasurer prepares to unveil his crucial Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook snapshot of the budget and economy in mid-December, the government is struggling with very poor public support, and a record of legislative failure on key aspects of its budget plan.
The Abbott government has entered its final parliamentary sitting fortnight of the year hoping a re-alignment in the Senate and a worsening revenue picture might lead to a late breakthrough in the deadlocked legislature.
But hope is not being confused with belief despite billions of dollars of budget savings being stalled amid pale revenue from soft economic growth, weak company tax and capital gains receipts, and tumbling iron ore prices.
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Tony Abbott denies breaking promise on the ABC: We have 'fundamentally kept faith' of voters

Date November 24, 2014 - 9:50PM

Dan Harrison

Health and Indigenous Affairs Correspondent

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has denied he has broken a pledge not to cut funding to the ABC and SBS, telling Parliament his government had "fundamentally kept faith with the Australian people".
The comments were Mr Abbott's first on budget changes to the ABC since a $254 million reduction was announced by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week. 
In question time on Monday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten asked Mr Abbott about comments he made in an interview on SBS TV on the night before last year's election, in which he vowed there would be "no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS." The Opposition Leader moved a censure motion against Mr Abbott, saying the Prime Minister had broken his promise. 
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5:18pm November 25, 2014

Medibank success provides reward: Hockey

The success of the Medicare Private share float could prove a much-needed shot in the arm for stagnant consumer confidence.
Shares in the $5.7 billion privatised health insurer started trading on the ASX on Tuesday, opening at $2.22 compared with a list price of $2 for retail investors.
They were later trading at $2.20.
Treasurer Joe Hockey said the 400,000 Australians who invested in the sale have received a 10 per cent benefit.
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Go easy on budget in the near term: OECD

The OECD says economic uncertainties in the near term means the Australian government should not be too heavy-handed in cutting the budget.
Source:  AAP
25 Nov 2014 - 6:06 PM  UPDATED YESTERDAY 9:38 PM
The OECD has warned Treasurer Joe Hockey not to be heavy-handed in cutting the budget, while putting borrowers on notice about rising interest rates.
In its latest Economic Outlook, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development backs the government's aim of returning the budget to surplus by the early 2020s.
"But given economic uncertainties, it should avoid heavy front-loading," the Paris-based institution says in the report released on Tuesday.
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Christmas message: Tony Abbott prepares to knock the 'barnacles off the ship'

Date November 26, 2014 - 6:37AM

Mark Kenny

Chief political correspondent

Tony Abbott has asked nervous government MPs to maintain internal discipline in the face of the ABC funding controversy and bad polling, reassuring them he will knock "one or two barnacles off the ship" before Christmas.
The Prime Minister's comments touched off speculation that he is shaping to abandon one or more of his unpopular budget measures concluding there is no chance of passing them through the Senate and that the government has lost enough skin trying to do so until now.
But unity was already under strain on Tuesday with Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull admitting the 4.9 per cent so-called "efficiency dividend" being extracted from the ABC funding envelope, constituted a cut, and another MP, Western Sydney Liberal Craig Laundy, calling on the Prime Minister to dispense with "verbal gymnastics" on the matter.
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CSIRO to lose ‘one-fifth of staff’

John Ross

THE national science agency will have lost over one-fifth of its workforce by June, staff claim, following two years of cost-cutting by both political parties.
A new analysis has found that CSIRO will lose almost 800 jobs this financial year, roughly doubling the cuts announced this week by the ABC.
The CSIRO Staff Association said the agency would cut 878 employees by the middle of next year as a result of a $115 million funding cut in the May federal budget.
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Tony Abbott budget to blow out by billions more than expected

Date November 26, 2014 - 7:19PM

Gareth Hutchens

The Abbott government's budget deficit could blow out by billions of dollars more than already expected, according to an analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Office.
The PBO has released an analysis of the "sensitivity" of three main drivers of the Australian economy that are key to the governments' medium-term budget projections.
Those key drivers are labour productivity growth, the labour force participation rate, and the terms of trade.
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World's most expensive medicine Glybera goes on sale with $1m price tag

Western world’s first gene therapy drug will cost nearly $1.4m per patient
The western world’s first gene therapy drug is set to go on sale in Germany with a €1.1m ($1.4m) price tag, a new record for a medicine to treat a rare disease.
The sky-high cost of Glybera, from Dutch biotech firm UniQure and its unlisted Italian marketing partner Chiesi, shows how single curative therapies to fix faulty genes may upend the conventional pharmaceutical business model.
After a quarter century of experiments and several setbacks, gene therapy is finally throwing a life-line to patients by inserting corrective genes into malfunctioning cells – but paying for it poses a challenge.
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Parko signs off with summary of challenges and opportunities ahead

Date November 29, 2014 - 12:15AM

Ross Gittins

The Sydney Morning Herald's Economics Editor

One of Tony Abbott's first acts on becoming Prime Minister was to sack the secretary to the Treasury, Dr Martin Parkinson. Parkinson's crime was to believe, as did the government he had been serving, that we need to take effective action against climate change.
Abbott also sacked Parkinson's obvious successor at Treasury, Blair Comley, for the same crime. It was a disgraceful, vindictive way to treat loyal and proficient public servants.
But Parko's departure from Treasury was delayed, first so he could help the new government prepare its first budget and then because his experience was sorely needed to help Abbott and Joe Hockey prepare to chair the G20 meeting this month.
But the time for his departure has finally arrived and this week he gave one of the last of many speeches during his distinguished career.
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Medicare Co-Payments.

Abbott's $7 Medicare co-payment is on hold amid Senate ructions

Date November 23, 2014 - 6:47PM

David Wroe

National security correspondent

The Abbott government's $7 Medicare co-payment appears to be on hold, with crossbench senators saying they've had no recent discussions with the government about the controversial budget measure.
With Parliament starting its final sitting fortnight of the year on Monday, the government is under pressure to snatch a legislative victory before Christmas, with its higher education reforms tipped to be the likeliest contender.
Cabinet will meet on Monday to discuss the year ahead. But the Abbott government faces perhaps even greater headaches getting legislation through the Upper House with Senator Jacqui Lambie expected to announce she will split from the Palmer United Party.
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GP co-payment still looking for a buyer

Joanna Heath
The federal government still wants the Senate to vote to impose a $7 charge for GP consultations despite speculation it would try to bypass a hostile Parliament through regulation.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann ruled out the regulation route, which doesn’t require a parliamentary majority and which the government has tried to use to raise fuel taxes and water-down financial advice laws.
“We are of course focused to deliver the budget measure that was announced in the budget in May and that requires legislation and that legislation is due to come into effect on 1 July 2015, so we have a bit of time to work our way through that,” Senator Cormann told the ABC.
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No co-payment through regulation: Dutton

Health Minister Peter Dutton says the government is persisting with Senate negotiations on the GP co-payment.
Source: AAP
25 Nov 2014 - 1:26 PM
Health Minister Peter Dutton has ruled out introducing the GP co-payment without Senate approval, because of legal advice that says it cannot be implemented without legislation.
The federal government used a legislative instrument to reintroduce indexation of the fuel excise, a move that requires parliament's approval within 12 months.
But Mr Dutton on Tuesday ruled out going down a similar path with the $7 co-payment because of opposition from Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers in the Senate.
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Fate of $7 GP fee in doubt as government rules out bypassing the uncooperative Senate after taking legal advice

  • Sue Dunlevy National Health Reporter
  • News Corp Australia Network
  • November 25, 2014 11:00PM
FEDERAL Government sought legal advice on whether it could bypass the uncooperative Senate to introduce its controversial $7 GP fee by regulation.
Health Minister Peter Dutton says legal advice confirmed he could cut the Medicare rebate by regulation but he has ruled out using the tactic.
This means the fate of the government’s $7 GP fee and its $5 hike in medicine charges are in now doubt.
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Federal government to shelve $7 GP co-payment policy

Date November 26, 2014 - 6:16PM

Mark Kenny

Chief political correspondent

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has privately conceded defeat on his controversial budget proposal to introduce a new $7 co-payment on bulk-billed GP visits and will formally shelve the policy before the end of the year.
The decision is a recognition of the reality that it had no chance of progressing through a hostile Senate in the face of trenchant opposition from Labor, the Greens, and a majority of the crossbench.
It represents a clearing-away of the first and perhaps biggest political "barnacle" clinging to the hull of the government ship – a description Mr Abbott used earlier in the week to describe policies causing resistance to the Coalition in public opinion polls.
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$7 co-payments man ‘peeved’ by planned backdown

Phillip Coorey Chief political correspondent

Key points

  • Medicare proposal needs a plan B if it original concept isn’t implemented, says architect of scheme.
  • Higher education cuts will also feature in government deliberations before it rises.
The architect of the proposed $7 Medicare charge has castigated the government for jettisoning the policy without even putting it to the Senate.
After The Australian Financial Review reported the $3.6 billion GP co-payment was set to be dumped because of the a lack of Senate support, Terry Barnes, a former adviser to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, expressed his disappointment on social media.
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Price signal needed to make Medicare sustainable says Dutton

Jared Owens

THE Abbott government will do “whatever it takes” to impose a price signal on doctors’ visits, Health Minister Peter Dutton said, amid plans to use regulations to overcome a Senate veto of its $7 GP co-payment.
With only five parliamentary sitting days left this year and amid confusion last night over the fate of the controversial reform, Mr Dutton this morning declared a price signal was needed to make Medicare sustainable or else the universal healthcare scheme would “collapse under its own weight”.
The Australian this morning revealed the Coalition has decided on a regulatory approach to rescue the co-payment in the face of a splintering of alliances in the upper house that made it impos­sible to legislate the key budget measure before the July 1 start date.
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Co-payment backflip on the cards

27 November, 2014 Amanda Davey and AAP
Amid reports that the government will dump its GP co-payment policy, Health Minister Peter Dutton has vowed to do whatever it takes to make Medicare sustainable.
And that still includes sending a price signal, he says.
Mr Dutton says he is continuing to negotiate with crossbench senators to pass the unpopular GP co-payment, despite media reports of its imminent demise.
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Confusion over $7 GP fee deepens as Joe Hockey contradicts PM's office

Date November 27, 2014 - 2:23PM

Mark Kenny and Lisa Cox

Treasurer Joe Hockey has added to the confusion surrounding the federal government's proposed $7 GP fee declaring it remains alive even after the Prime Minister's office had briefed several journalists at different media organisations that the policy was to be shelved.
Mr Hockey said the government still intended to take its co-payment to the Parliament as Liberal senator Ian Macdonald threatened to cross the floor and vote against the fee if it was introduced.
The Treasurer's intervention as the most senior economic minister in the government has put him at odds with the Prime Minister's office because he is suggesting the government's policy hasn't changed - and that it still hopes to get it through the Parliament.
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GP fee: Only certainty is Health Minister Peter Dutton’s indecision

  • Sue Dunlevy National Health Reporter
  • News Corp Australia Network
  • November 28, 2014 12:00AM
HEALTH Minister Peter Dutton has flip flopped for a fourth time on the $7 GP fee as government ministers are divided over the fee, a government backbencher plans to vote against it and the government’s policy crumbles into disarray.
Last night, after News Corp Australia revealed pensioners, children and those in the bush would pay more to see a doctor if he bypassed the Senate and introduced a GP charge by regulation the minister backtracked on earlier plans to do this.
Last month Mr Dutton refused to rule out using regulation to cut the Medicare rebate by $5 to impose the GP fee, on Tuesday he ruled out doing it by regulation, yesterday he said “we will look at every option that is available”.
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Joe Hockey, Tony Abbott split on GP fee

Phillip Coorey Chief Political Correspondent
Treasurer Joe Hockey will fight a ­proposal to shelve the Medicare ­co-payment as it emerged he was among several members of cabinet unaware of the move.
Despite the decision to shelve the unpopular $3.6 billion budget measure as part of Tony Abbott’s strategy to rid his government of “barnacles” and start next year afresh, Mr Hockey vowed to press ahead with the policy.
“Our policy stands. We intend to take it to the Parliament,” the Treasurer said. “It is not a barnacle. It is a policy that is about trying to fix some of the challenges associated with the mess that was left to us by the previous government.”
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Ebloa.

Ebola paperwork: It looks important, but no one collects it

Date November 30, 2014 - 12:15AM

Latika Bourke

National political reporter

Hundreds of thousands of passengers arriving from overseas are filling out new Ebola screening forms that no one is collecting, despite the Coalition's pledge to cut red tape if elected.
The travel history cards are part of new measures announced earlier this month to combat Ebola. Passengers are required to complete it along with the regular incoming passenger card and hand them in at customs.
But if travellers use the smart gate system, the forms are not collected and there are no signs or verbal instructions telling passengers why their forms have not been collected, Fairfax Media has learnt.
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Medical Research.

GP co-payment confusion casts doubt on Medical Research Future Fund

Rosie Lewis

UNCERTAINTY surrounds the Abbott government’s $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund as a new approach to the contentious $7 GP co-payment is considered.
The government is sticking to its goal of raising $3.5 billion from new fees on visits to the doctor — which will help fund the MRFF — after days of confusion over its plans.
Brendan Crabb, former president of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes and a member of the MRFF action group, is optimistic the fund will pass the Senate but said there was now some doubt.
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Research fund a must-have, medical firms warn

Joanna Heath
The creators of two of Australia’s biggest medical research success stories are urging the government to put a promised $20 billion fund for their sector above politics, as dramas over the future of the GP co-payment continue.
The chief executive of bionic ear company Cochlear and the chief ­scientific officer at CSL, maker of the Gardasil vaccine, have described the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) as a “must-have” for Australia.
“Find a way. Find a way to fund this nation-changing initiative. This is something that will have a benefit to the country and will be a legacy to the elected officials in Parliament way beyond their terms,” said Andrew Cuthbertson of CSL. “We shouldn’t let relatively trivial debates get in the way of a truly visionary and important long-term idea.”
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Pharmacy Related Articles.

Government can’t rule out future cuts: Abbott

25 November, 2014 Christie Moffat
The Federal Government cannot guarantee that it will no longer look for savings from the community pharmacy sector, the Prime Minister says.
Addressing the Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s annual parliamentary dinner, Prime Minister Tony Abbott (pictured_ said the government supported the introduction of more services to community pharmacy, but could not rule out future cuts to the profession.
“I cannot stand up and say that the Government will no longer be looking for savings… but we want whatever we do to be helpful to patients and providing more services, not less services, to the people of Australia,” Mr Abbott told the audience.
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Nurses to give advice at 'super pharmacies'

Date November 27, 2014 - 11:13PM

Kate Hagan

Labor leader Daniel Andrews chose the "sandbelt" suburb of Mordialloc to announce his plans to open 20 "super pharmacies" where a nurse would be available at night to provide advice and care.
Mr Andrews said Labor would provide $28.7 million over four years for the program, which he said would take pressure off overcrowded hospital
emergency departments.
He said nurses would be available between 6pm and 10pm to provide advice on symptoms and could offer services such as wound care, blood pressure checks and immunisation.
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Comment:
I also have to say reading all the articles I still have no idea what is actually going to happen with the Budget at the end of the day. Maybe the next few weeks of parliament will clarify things this time but I doubt it. The Reps are back, along with the Senate. Both rise until the new year on Dec 4, 2014 until February!
As pointed out on Insiders last week - if the Budget is not sorted in the next week or so - (i.e. by the time you read this) then the next chance is in February, 2015 - and after MYEFO - and then we are into the next Budget!
One wonders for how much longer this will go on?
Enjoy.
David.

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