Thursday, September 17, 2015

2016 Budget -Parliament Almost Over for A Few Weeks and The US Federal Reserve Soon To Decide On US Interest Rates. Oh And A New Prime Minister

September 17 Edition
The big economic news this week  continued to be market turmoil which seems to have eased a bit (maybe) but certainly has not have finally stabilised as yet. They won’t until we hear from the US Fed at 4am on Friday morning our time.
Budget Night was May 12, 2015. It now seems to have been forgotten and in the Press we seem to be hearing just a little more about recession.

Interestingly the new PM has made the economy - along with innovation - as the key area where we need a great deal more work. I am sure we will see more details over the weekend and be clearer how things will play out next week.
I wonder is the man who inspired the ABC Show Rake on the money?

Art bares city's soul as strippers bear bad news

Date September 12, 2015 - 9:00PM

Charles Waterstreet

Sydney barrister and author

The first line of workers to feel the incoming credit crunch are strippers. A number of my friends in the industry are complaining that they have been earning half, even quarter of what they had been earlier in the year. It's not just the Kings Cross lockdown, it's city wide. Strippers have replaced taxi drivers as the canary in the coal mine of the cash crunch. If there's spare money to spend, men and women go to strip clubs and splash it around, everyone makes money when liquidity is high. One friend whinged that her leg garter would not hold coins as that is what some customers  are now reduced to. When strippers take coins, you know the credit squeeze is coming.
Well at least it is Spring!
Here is some other of the recent other news and analysis.

General Budget Issues.

Hockey: global growth would be much slower if not for Australia's leadership

Date September 7, 2015 - 9:38AM

Gareth Hutchens, Colin Brinsden AAP

Treasurer Joe Hockey believes global growth would much slower today if it had not been for Australia's G20 leadership last year that saw world leaders agree to a two per cent growth target.
He has also warned that the Chinese government will not renegotiate its free trade agreement with Australia if Labor successfully blocks the agreement, following similar warnings from Trade Minister Andrew Robb.
Speaking after a two-day G20 finance ministers meeting in Turkey on Sunday, Mr Hockey said global leaders were frustrated by the fact that the International Monetary Fund had downgraded its world growth outlook this year.
"(But) world growth would be lower if not for our leadership and determination last year to have a two per cent target and to roll out a global infrastructure initiative," Mr Hockey said.

Julie Bishop advised PM: sack Joe Hockey

  • The Australian
  • September 6, 2015 6:36PM
Tony Abbott is standing by his comment that no minister has ever approached him about dumping his treasurer, Joe Hockey, despite a report Julie Bishop did just that before Christmas.
The Sunday Telegraph reports senior government sources have confirmed that late last year the foreign minister raised the idea with the prime minister, who firmly rejected it.
Mr Hockey tonight labelled the report as “gossip”.
“I’m focused on helping to create more jobs in Australia and working with other countries on global growth,” the treasurer said tonight from Istanbul after attending a G20 finance ministers meeting.

Coalition auditor for 2013 election costings breached standards

Date September 7, 2015 - 7:21AM

Peter Martin

Economics Editor, The Age

Two years on from the Coalition's 2013 election victory, one of the three experts who "independently verified" its campaign costings has been found guilty of breaching auditing standards.
Len Scanlan, a former Queensland auditor general, has been penalised by CPA Australia for failing to uphold professional standards in the work he did for the Coalition.
But in an unusual move reported on the CPA website on May 25 the disciplinary tribunal found there were "exceptional circumstances" involving his work for the Coalition's Joe Hockey and ordered his name not be published.

Here's who to blame for our coming recession

Date September 7, 2015 - 12:15AM

Ian Porter

The aims behind forcing car makers to close were superficial, and the ramifications will be dreadful.

Joe Hockey: world growth slower if not for us

The treasurer made the claim about Australian leadership at the 2014 Brisbane G20 as world finance ministers met in Turkey to discuss the world economy
Don't waste any time worrying about it: Australia is heading into a recession. There are several indicators pointing in this direction, but what will guarantee the slide into the economic doldrums will be the fallout from the Abbott government's first policy "initiative".
The current bleak backdrop has set the scene. The number of negative economic indicators seems to grow every time a new set of statistics is released.
Real average wages are falling, unemployment is up, the quality of work is declining (fewer full-time jobs), the terms of trade have moved adversely, manufacturing is so parlous we may soon even lose our ability to make steel, capital investment has slumped, and the banks are forced to invest in a wildly overheated property market because there's no industrial expansion to speak of.
5:55pm September 8, 2015

Majority disapprove of Joe Hockey as federal treasurer

Joe Hockey. (AAP)
More than half of Australians disapprove of the job Joe Hockey is doing as treasurer, even after his better-received second budget in May.
The latest weekly Essential Research online poll found that less than a third think he is doing a good job.
At a 52 percent disapproval rating, Mr Hockey's standing is even weaker than the 44 percent recorded in August 2014, just months after his poorly received first budget.
Even one in five of his own coalition supporters gave him the thumbs down.

Abbott government reduces budget black hole by $30 billion over next decade

Date September 8, 2015 - 8:56PM

Gareth Hutchens

The Abbott government has reduced its budget black hole by $30 billion over the next decade after its deal with Labor to reintroduce fuel excise indexation.
But Australia continues to face more than a decade of uninterrupted budget deficits, with $74 billion worth of budget repair initiatives still sitting unlegislated — from three previous budgets.
An updated assessment by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office shows the government is facing a cumulative $74 billion budget shortfall between now and 2025-26 after failing to win support for controversial savings measures in the Senate.

Elective surgery waits are higher in NSW for cataracts, hips and knees

Date September 9, 2015 - 12:15AM

Harriet Alexander

Health Reporter

Hospital waiting lists for surgery such as cataract extraction and joint replacement are longer in NSW than the national average. Photo: Peter Braig
The waiting time for some elective surgical procedures in NSW is more than double the Australian average and three times higher than comparable countries.
NSW patients wait significantly longer for cataract extractions, knee replacements and hip replacements – non-urgent surgeries that are considered the canaries in the coal mine when hospital resources are stretched.
But NSW compares well against other countries for gall bladder and prostate surgery, with 97 per cent of procedures are performed on time, according to a Bureau of Health Information report released on Wednesday.
On the whole, people from NSW were among the most positive about their health care, with 54 per cent saying that the system performed well.

Sniping at Joe Hockey ignores a good economic record

David Uren

Joe Hockey should feel some sympathy for Wayne Swan, who was pilloried for poor performance throughout 2010 despite Aus­tralia, alone among advanced ­nations, having pulled through the global financial crisis without a recession.
The sniping about Hockey is at odds with Australia’s relatively good economic performance, considering the collapse of the mining boom, which has been far more severe than anticipated.
Although the Coalition’s polling is consistently bad, recent research by Essential Media Communications shows 40 per cent of voters still think the Coalition is best able to manage the economy, compared with 24 per cent favouring Labor and 5 per cent the Greens. There has been little material change in these proportions since early last year other than a steady rise in the number who “don’t know”, who now total 31 per cent.

From restaurant to pharmacy, penalty rates are making impact

Date September 11, 2015 - 2:45PM

Nick Toscano

Erin Gibbons gets a $10 an hour boost from working Sundays as a casual waitress at a restaurant in Elsternwick. 
The 27-year-old already works most afternoons and nights but says the extra money helps manage her bills and living expenses without needing to quit hospitality or sacrifice her scarce downtime by taking on a second job.
Most importantly, she says, Sunday penalty rates make up for the things in life she misses out on.
"I can tell you, I'm the only person in my family and in my friendship group who works Sundays ... most people still work Monday to Friday," she says.

Health Budget Issues.

GP networks face hurdles

Charlotte Mitchell
Monday, 7 September, 2015
REPLACING Medicare Locals with Primary Health Networks represents a golden opportunity to address problems in the health system — provided there is cooperation between all levels of government, GPs and health organisations, according to GPs and health policy experts.
Associate Professor Suzanne Robinson, director of health policy and management at Curtin University, told MJA InSight that GPs were the “cornerstone of primary care” and that some Medicare Locals “did a great job in engaging general practice”.
However, she said the Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and GPs needed to work together with state governments and other health providers to “really focus on the needs of the patient population”.
Professor Robinson was commenting on research published this week in the MJA which found that the experience of Medicare Locals provided valuable lessons for the new PHNs in Australia. (1)

Mike Baird says GST increase can fund health and also deliver tax cuts

Date September 7, 2015 - 12:15AM

Sean Nicholls

Sydney Morning Herald State Political Editor

NSW Premier Mike Baird says the extra revenue from lifting the GST to 15 per cent could help cover the looming shortfall in national health funding as well as deliver personal income tax cuts, in an apparent bid to keep the fledgling reform push on track.
On Friday, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said a GST increase could either fund tax cuts or healthcare but not both.
His comments came after Prime Minister Tony Abbott flagged using the GST increase to fund income tax cuts before the next federal election.
Mr Baird first proposed increasing the GST from 10 to 15 per cent ahead of last month's Council of Australian Governments meeting in Sydney, to cover an estimated $35 billion annual shortfall in national health costs by 2030 following the federal government's cuts to state funding.

It fought off the government’s GP fee, and now the AMA wants its own

  • 10 hours ago September 08, 2015 10:00PM
  • Sue Dunlevy
EIGHT months after defeating the government’s unpopular $5 GP fee, the Australian Medical Association now wants doctors to introduce their own.
The AMA wants the rules changed so doctors can bulk bill Medicare for a medical visit and then charge patients a gap fee on top.
“This would cut red tape, reduce upfront costs for some patients,” the AMA says in
its submission to the government’s primary health care reform process.
Currently if a doctor wants to impose a gap fee they have to charge the patient the full fee, up to $80 upfront, and the patient has to claim the $37 rebate from Medicare.

Working together

8 September, 2015 Meg Pigram 
GP clinics that employ pharmacists could receive up to almost $190,000 in government funds under new proposals.
However, there are concerns the integration and expanded scope of practice will offer minimal remuneration benefits to pharmacists.
Others in pharmacy have expressed concerns they will be relegated to performing more administrative tasks.
The Pharmacist in General Practice (PIGPP) scheme is a proposal presented to the Federal Government by the AMA, with PSA endorsement, advocating a funding program to integrate non-dispensing pharmacists within general practices.

South East Sydney Local Health District makes staff redundant after $20 million budget blowout

Date September 12, 2015 - 5:00PM

Amy Corderoy

Health Editor, Sydney Morning Herald

One of the busiest health districts in Sydney will make staff redundant after a budget blowout that has seen it record a $20 million deficit, Fairfax Media can reveal.
The deficit comes as the south-eastern Sydney health district has seen huge increases in patient numbers, and recently was so overwhelmed by emergency cases one of its major hospitals was put on unofficial bypass by the ambulance service because it was too full to accept patients.
It is now asking staff to accept voluntary redundancies, but it says they will be restricted to only about 50 "non-clinical staff" and will not affect patient care.
Health Services Union secretary Gerard Hayes said it was ridiculous to claim getting rid of staff would not affect patient care.

The shocking dental health of the mouths of children growing up in outback towns

September 12, 2015 9:55pm
Sue Dunlevy National Health Reporter News Corp Australia Network
PEER inside the mouth of a child in the bush and you’ll find double the number of decayed, missing or filled teeth that you’d find in a city kid. It’s the scarred smile that underlines the shame of this nation’s dental policy.
We’ve got a Child Dental Scheme that provides $1,000 worth of dental care for kids but the 7 million people who live in the bush, where there are no dentists, rarely see a cent of this.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service has a plan to fix it, it wants $10 million diverted from the child dental scheme so it can buy new semi-trailers fitted with dental chairs and it wants to deliver more flights to outback towns.
RFDS chief says this money could buy an extra 100,000 dental treatments a year in the bush.

Health Insurance Issues.

The scam that's adding $100 a year to your health fund premiums

September 10, 2015 10:00pm
Sue Dunlevy National Health Reporter News Corp Australia Network
IT’S the pricing scam that means you’re paying $100 a year more for your health insurance and a group of community health funds wants reforms to fix it.
When you have surgery in a private hospital your insurer is paying up to 70 per cent more for prostheses like hip and knee replacements than public hospitals pay.
The scam is adding at least $530 million a year to the cost of health insurance, says Hirmaa, which represents eighteen private health insurers which are member-owned and not-for-profit.
And taxpayers are also being slugged because they cover 30 per cent of the cost of health insurance.
Health Minster Sussan Ley yesterday pledged to look into the issue.

Calls for review into private health care as insurance premiums increase and benefits are slashed

  • September 11, 2015 10:00PM
  • Sue Dunlevy
HEALTH bodies are demanding a radical review of the private health system as health fund premiums skyrocket, hospitals price gouge and funds slash benefits.
Australian Medical Association president Professor Brian Owler demanded federal government intervention yesterday as he revealed NIB had removed over 225 items from its schedule of medical benefits.
He attacked Medibank over its attempt to exclude 165 treatments from hospital contracts and said the fund was no longer covering spinal fusion and bariatric surgery under its Private Basic and Standard Hospital policies.
The changes were serious enough to “warrant strong and swift intervention by the Federal Government before consumer confidence in the private sector is undermined, such that people drop their private cover altogether and/or turn to the public hospital sector for treatment,” Professor Owler said.

Pharmacy Issues.

Pharmacies help reduce unnecessary hospitalisations

A report published in the Medical Journal of Australia today confirms the potential for community pharmacies to make a significant contribution to reducing the cost of unnecessary hospitalisations, says the Guild.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of South Australia and the BUPA Health Foundation shows that as many as one in four older hospital patients could have avoided admission had their medication and health risks been better managed.
The researchers concluded that a quarter of hospital admissions were preceded by ‘sub-optimal care’, with up to $300 million being spent per year to treat elderly patients who were not on the correct drug regime.
This new report builds on the strong evidence that adverse medicine events account for thousands of hospital admissions per year, the Guild says.

Working together

8 September, 2015 Meg Pigram 
GP clinics that employ pharmacists could receive up to almost $190,000 in government funds under new proposals.
However, there are concerns the integration and expanded scope of practice will offer minimal remuneration benefits to pharmacists.
Others in pharmacy have expressed concerns they will be relegated to performing more administrative tasks.
The Pharmacist in General Practice (PIGPP) scheme is a proposal presented to the Federal Government by the AMA, with PSA endorsement, advocating a funding program to integrate non-dispensing pharmacists within general practices.

Patient advocacy key to future viability: Panayiaris

Pharmacy needs to make the case that it should remain viable because it delivers equitable community healthcare, Nick Panayiaris, SA Guild president, told the Friendlies’ Conference in Adelaide.

Panayiaris sits on the Guild‘s Pharmacy Viability Committee which negotiated the 6CPA.
He told delegates that 6CPA negotiations were tough and some issues have yet to be resolved such as the $1 copayment discount.
“It is documented in the Agreement that we do not support this; however we had to compromise because we were told it could be $3. And also the big stick in front of us was the Location Rules… it wasn’t fun at times.

Pharmacy’s ‘perfect storm’

10 September, 2015 Chris Brooker 
Pharmacy training standards are being hit by a ‘perfect storm’ of cuts and changes to employer funding programs and overregulation, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia believes.
As revealed by Pharmacy News Guild officials recently addressed the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment, as part of its’ ongoing inquiry into ‘the operation, regulation and funding of private vocational education and training (VET) providers in Australia’.
Under questioning from senators Sue Bond, head of the Guild Pharmacy Academy, said cuts to employer training subsidies in the 2014-15 Federal budget, combined with cuts and changes to state and territory funding, had led to declining training standards among staff.
When asked by Senator Arthur Sinodinos (Lib, NSW) if the situation was “a perfect storm”, Ms Bond agreed.
It is going to be very interesting to see what happens to the polls and consumer confidence over the next 2-3 months with the present market chaos. I hardly see it improving in the short term. Maybe this time next week things will be clearer.

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