Quote Of The Year

Quote Of The Year - Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"

Thursday, February 01, 2018

The Macro View – Health, Financial And Political News Relevant To E-Health And The Health Sector In General.

February 01, 2018 Edition.
Trump continues to astound with this week the a 36 hour visit to hob-nob with the super-rich in Davos, where he said he was MAGA and showed his thin-skin in question time while getting caught out lying about having tried to fire the Russian Special Counsel. I am sure his favourite coal miners were impressed with the Davos visit.
We are now just over a ¼ of the way through this nightmare and I have to say I am sick of it already – with a State Of The Union Speech this week! Can you imagine the boasting?
In passing this new US Strategic Posture to focus on China and Russia (rather than terrorism)  is a pretty big deal I believe and pretty worrying.
Europe is still slowly getting back to business and in the UK the NHS is under severe stress due to ‘Aussie Flu’ and failing computers. Germany slowly seems to be closer to getting a Government and Australia goes back to work on Monday – thankfully without a rail strike!
Amazing to be in February already.
As a matter of interest can anyone explain just why The Australian is getting so worked up about electric cars. For some (many?) they seem like the perfect personal transport solution so just what is driving all this emotion against them?
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Here are a few other things I have noticed.
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Major Issues.

Seven key risks for investors

By Alan Kohler, The Constant Investor
January 2018
Challenges abound, but 2018 looks like a good year for shares.
The momentum in the global sharemarket after the 2015 correction has been astonishing, better even than the 18 months leading up to the GFC and the dot-com crash of 2000.
So, will the same result, or worse, happen again? I don’t think so, but as always there are risks. Seven that I can see, maybe eight. But first, some background on where we are now.
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Perfect your Australia Day barbecue banter with these top 12 economic buzzwords for 2018

Jessica Irvine
Published: January 22 2018 - 12:00AM
There is a hidden element – a darker edge – to the great Australia Day barbecue.
Sure, on the outside it's all sunshine, smiles and snags. But scratch the surface, and you'll find a thinly veiled competitive tension.
It's Sharyn's pavlova versus Tracey's trifle. Or, Greg's insistence this year's celebrations be held on his newly extended deck, with six-burner barbecue.
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Sugar hit from Trump tax cuts to boost world economy

Peter Martin
Published: January 23 2018 - 1:00AM
A sugar hit from the Trump administration's US tax cuts is expected to propel world economic growth to 3.9 per cent in 2018, the best result in eight years.
In an update to its forecasts presented to the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland, the International Monetary Fund said the global economy should grow by 3.9 per cent in 2018 and 2019, up from the 3.7 per cent per year it forecast in October.
Half the upgrade was due to the $US1.5 trillion ($A1.88 trillion) in tax cuts. Its forecasts assume that the hit to US tax revenues will "not be offset by spending cuts in the near term" meaning that the economies of the US and the countries it trades with will benefit as the US budget deficit deteriorates.
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There's a strong argument to move Australia Day to May 9

Mark Kenny
Published: January 23 2018 - 10:28AM
 A hole in the argument to move Australia Day from January 26 has been the absence of a logical alternative – or any consensus for same.
But is that right?
In truth, the case for January 26 is rather thin from a national perspective. Even leaving aside dispossession, the founding of a British penal colony in what would later become NSW, is a dubious basis for Australia's national day. This was an act of empire building. Literally.
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Who needs Snowy 2.0? Australia to hit RET early after record investment

Cole Latimer
Published: January 23 2018 - 12:00AM
Australia is set to reach its Renewable Energy Target earlier than predicted due to record levels of renewables investment last year, says the Clean Energy Regulator.
However, concerns have been raised for continued growth in the sector after 2020.
The CER had previously said about 6000 megawatts of new renewable energy generation would be needed between 2016 and 2019 to meet the RET; now this benchmark may be hit ahead of schedule after record levels of renewables investment in 2017.
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One area where the banks are getting it right: curbing coal

Clancy Yeates
Published: January 22 2018 - 12:15AM
Amid all the excitement over the bank royal commission, in the dying days of 2017 there were important changes at several of the big four that you may have missed.
It became crystal clear the big four will no longer be backing the expansion of thermal coal mining, or coal-fired electricity, thus speeding up the economy’s shift towards renewable energy.
I know, this change has probably happened more slowly than it should have. And sure, the banks are cutting off coal financing for their own commercial reasons. Many would like to see them take a tougher stance towards other carbon-intensive industries such as liquefied natural gas.
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The world economy is surging, but complacency could be costly

Michael Schuman
Published: January 22 2018 - 5:46PM
Almost a decade after the financial crisis, economies in just about every corner of the world the United States, Europe, even perennially sluggish Japan are growing in unison.
But can the expansion last?
Many economists predict it will at least into this year. But they also fret that unresolved problems embedded in the global economy, including income inequality and stagnant productivity, could hamper further gains and stall growth once again. As the world's business leaders gather this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, confronting these issues will be high on the agenda.
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American lobbyists, universities hit back at foreign influence bill

Kirsty Needham
Published: January 22 2018 - 9:30PM
A peak American business group has complained Australia's new "foreign influence" laws will deprive its members of freedom of speech, while universities warn US Defence funding will be put at risk.
The Law Council of Australia said the proposed law would have a "chilling" effect on legitimate public debate.
Despite China being the apparent target of the Turnbull government's foreign influence bill, Beijing appeared not to have made any submissions as the deadline closed on Monday.
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First Fleet 'good' for Indigenous Australians, Tony Abbott says

Published: January 22 2018 - 9:06PM
Tony Abbott believes the arrival of the First Fleet was a good thing for Indigenous Australians.
The former prime minister was throwing his support behind keeping the existing date of Australia Day, in a chat with 2GB's Ray Hadley.
"Australia Day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all of the things we've achieved," he said.
"What happened on the 26th of January 1788 was on balance, for everyone - Aboriginal people included - a good thing because it brought Western civilisation to this country, it brought Australia into the modern world.
Note: I put this in to remind myself what an idiot he was.
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Turnbull must seize the moment on tax reform

Tom Switzer
Published: January 23 2018 - 12:05AM
Two months ago, there was a general consensus that Malcolm Turnbull was finished. His conservative critics in and outside the Liberal party room (including this writer) were proverbially hammering nails into his political coffin. So were a few political analysts.
No comeback was possible. Opinion polls told the same story. Indeed, Turnbull was dangerously close to turning into a standing joke with the public. And once a political leader reaches this stage, there is often no hope of redemption.
However, recent events have lifted the Prime Minister's spirits and those of his supporters. The same-sex marriage survey was a resounding success. The midyear budget update showed a growing economy on the back of a global upswing, rising commodities prices and a boom in tourism and infrastructure.

'Perfect storm': Global financial system showing danger signs, says senior OECD economist

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Published: January 23 2018 - 12:56PM
The world financial system is as dangerously stretched today as it was at the peak of the last bubble but this time the authorities are caught in a "policy trap" with few defences left, a veteran central banker has warned.
Nine years of emergency money has had a string of perverse effects and lured emerging markets into debt dependency, without addressing the structural causes of the global disorder.
"All the market indicators right now look very similar to what we saw before the Lehman crisis, but the lesson has somehow been forgotten," said William White, the Swiss-based head of the OECD's review board and ex-chief economist for the Bank for International Settlements.
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Public health groups slam removal of pre-approval of complementary medicine advertisements

Esther Han
Published: January 23 2018 - 10:14PM
Health groups have raised alarm about a new bill that, if passed, would see the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) abandon the pre-approval process of advertisements for complementary and alternative medicines.
While they support many elements of the therapeutic goods amendment bill, groups ranging from Choice to the Consumers Health Forum say the amendment to abolish the pre-approval process in favour of self-regulation and larger penalties is worrying and should be reconsidered.
"People could die in the period between the shutdown of pre-approval of advertisements and the post-marketing prosecutions replacing them," said Professor John Braithwaite, a regulatory expert at the Australian National University (ANU).
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Australia pips US in global country ranking, thanks to Trump effect

Nick Miller
Published: January 24 2018 - 10:49AM
The world’s “informed elites and business leaders” have ruled that Turnbull’s Australia is better than Trump’s USA, in an annual ranking survey released today.
We emerged as the 7th best country in the world in the US News Best Countries rankings, behind Sweden but overtaking the US.
Switzerland – the picturesque chocolate manufacturer and tax haven hosting this week’s Davos gathering where the world’s billionaires are networking over canapes - remained at the top of the list.
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'It hasn't been easy': Australia hails revival of mega deal that Trump snubbed

Latika Bourke
Published: January 24 2018 - 10:01AM
Australian businesses will be the "big winners" when the revived Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal involving 11 countries is signed in six weeks, Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said on Wednesday after senior trade officials in Japan struck a breakthrough to revive the mega pact.
Japan's Minister of Economy Toshimitsu Motegi said the new agreement, to be called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), or TPP-11, will be signed on March 8, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe foreshadowed in a weekend interview with the Australian Financial Review.
Mr Abe has claimed credit for reviving the mega trade pact - first negotiated when Barack Obama was president - after it suffered near-death when Donald Trump sensationally withdrew the US as part of his America First pledge.
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China's massive global infrastructure spending a 'game changer' for world power, says Labor's Penny Wong

David Wroe
Published: January 24 2018 - 12:01AM
China's $1 trillion "belt and road initiative" that builds transport infrastructure in needy countries is a "game changer" in how it is using money to build political influence across the world, says Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong.
Senator Wong, in a speech to be delivered on Wednesday in Singapore, lays out in stark terms just how much the network of roads, rail and ports stretching from Europe to the Pacific is altering the world and describes it as "a radically different approach to the assertion of power".
She will tell the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore that countries such as Australia will struggle to grapple with China's rise unless they properly understand the "disruption" the massive infrastructure program is causing.
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What's going to happen in 2018? Here's what the public thinks

Matt Wade
Published: January 24 2018 - 12:05AM
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future," warned Niels Bohr, the 1922 Nobel laureate in physics.
And yet we keep trying. We're now well into the new year prediction season and experts have been churning out forecasts on everything from bitcoin to the football World Cup.
But a new report from polling firm Ipsos has an alternative take - it asks what the public, rather than the pundits, expects from 2018.
Here's the collective wisdom from the survey which covered 28 countries including Australia.
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Teslas are going to get cheaper, but not because of the government

John McDuling
Published: January 24 2018 - 5:24PM
Australia's energy culture wars have become so poisonous that even the slightest hint of government support for electric vehicles (EVs) is met with knee-jerk hostility.
Earlier this month, in these pages, federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg gently suggested that an electric vehicle car revolution was imminent and that Australian consumers will benefit.
He didn't make any concrete proposals on the issue, just a vague call for more co-ordination between various arms of government to promote EV uptake.
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Product flogging still a problem in financial advice

John Collett
Published: January 25 2018 - 12:00AM
After all of the scandals, inquiries, reviews and new laws and regulations it's surprising the extent to which financial planners employed by or aligned with the big four banks and AMP flog their employers' superannuation funds and other financial products to punters.
Most financial planners are aligned with or employed by one of the big banks or AMP, which "manufacture" their own financial products on which these institutions generate fee revenue. 
The report by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission shows institutions do have many more "external" financial products listed on their "approved lists" of products.
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TPP: Tear up other trade agreements or risk becoming a 'noodle bowl', warns business

Eryk Bagshaw
Published: January 24 2018 - 8:10PM
The Trans-Pacific-Partnership risks falling into a complex "noodle bowl" of trade agreements unless Australia's bilaterals with eight of the countries are torn up, a leading business lobby group says, as early resistance threatens to stop the deal being ratified in Parliament.  
Under a proposal from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, bilateral trade agreements with Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei would be thrown in the bin and replaced with the broad sweeping powers of the so-called TPP11. 
The revival of the deal, reached overnight in Tokyo, was followed on Wednesday by widespread calls for a full Productivity Commission review of its merits and the inadvertent release of key details of TPP11 by the Prime Minister's Office that shed some light on the otherwise vague details of the agreement.  
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S&P reaffirms Australia's AAA rating

Treasurer Scott Morrison has welcomed the reaffirmation of Australia's AAA credit rating by Standard and Poor's.
Updated 25 January, 2018
Ratings agency Standard & Poor's has reaffirmed Australia's AAA credit rating and negative outlook.
The rating and outlook is the same as at budget time in May and follows the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook delivered by Treasurer Scott Morrison in December.
"Together with Australia's AAA rating from Fitch and Moody's, this means Australia continues to be one of only 10 countries that have maintained a AAA credit rating with all three major ratings agencies," Mr Morrison said in a statement on Thursday.
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Australian dollar dives after Trump says the US dollar will get 'stronger and stronger'

Timothy Moore
Published: January 26 2018 - 7:27AM
It's been a wild 24 hours for currency traders and US President Donald Trump's latest comment - that he wants "to see a strong [US] dollar" - is adding to the volatility.
At 9am AEDT on Australia Day, the dollar was 0.5 per cent lower at US80.26¢; it ranged over the past day from a four-month high of US81.19¢ to a low of US80.12¢.
Volatility spiked across global markets - equities, bonds, commodities as well as currencies - after Mr Trump outright contradicted his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and said that Mr Mnuchin's comments had been "taken out of context".
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We're now closer than ever to the apocalypse, according to the Doomsday Clock

Barbara Goldberg
Published: January 26 2018 - 4:56AM
A panel of scientists and scholars have moved ahead by half a minute the symbolic Doomsday Clock, saying the world is at its closest to annihilation since the height of the Cold War due to world leaders' poor response to threats of nuclear war and climate change.
It was the second occasion the timepiece, created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists as an indicator of the world's susceptibility to cataclysm, was moved forward since the 2016 election of US president Donald Trump.
At two minutes to midnight, the clock is at its closest to the end of humanity since 1953, due to dangers of a nuclear holocaust from North Korea's weapons program, US Russian entanglements, South China Sea tensions, and other factors, the Chicago-based group said in a statement.
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How about showing us the TPP deal we're about to sign?

Peter Martin
Published: January 25 2018 - 1:21AM
What's in the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership deal for Australia? There's no way to tell until we've seen the text, and we won't see it until after it's signed, in Chile on March 8. Really. That's the way things normally work.
After that, there's still time to back out if we don't want to ratify it, and there's a precedent. All 12 would-be members signed up to the original Trans-Pacific Partnership in February 2016. Barack Obama found himself unable to get it through Congress and Donald Trump didn't try.
As best as we can tell, the new deal, TPP-11, is the old one with fewer bad bits. Twenty of the most contentious provisions included at the insistence of the US have been "suspended" until the US decides to join. They include enforced protections for the owners of pharmaceutical patents and extensions to copyright law.
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Oldest human remains outside Africa found in Israeli cave

Will Dunham
Published: January 26 2018 - 6:25AM
Washington: A partial jawbone bearing seven teeth unearthed in a cave in Israel represents what scientists are calling the oldest-known Homo sapiens remains outside Africa, showing that our species trekked out of that continent far earlier than previously known.
Researchers on Thursday announced the discovery of the fossil estimated as 177,000 to 194,000 years old, and said the teeth bore telltale traits of Homo sapiens not present in close human relatives alive at the time including Neanderthals.
The fossil of the left part of the upper jaw of a young adult -- the person's sex remains unclear -- came from Misliya Cave on Mount Carmel's western slopes about 12 km south of Haifa. Also found inside the large collapsed cave, once inhabited by humans, were blades and other stone tools that were sophisticated for the time, several hearths and burned animal bones.
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Exit strategy: planning can make death less painful

  • Sian Powell
  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM January 27, 2018
Aged 79 and frighteningly thin, Judy had end-stage lung disease and pneumonia. Even before she caught pneumonia, she had difficulty breathing and could only walk a few steps. If her pneumonia was treated, it would likely take her a long time to recover and her breathing would almost certainly be even further impaired.
Rushed to hospital, she couldn’t communicate, but her husband thought she should be “given a chance” to recover. So when Judy stopped breathing, she was resuscitated. Surgeons then cut a hole in her neck and inserted a tube so she could breathe through it. Another tube was threaded through her nose and into her stomach so she could be fed.
Over the ensuing weeks many catheters were inserted into the veins of her neck in order to administer drugs, and drainage tubes were pushed through the skin and wasted muscle of her chest wall to drain the fluid collecting around her lungs. Repeated courses of antibiotics gave her terrible diarrhoea, which in turn left the skin on her bottom sore and inflamed.
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Welcome to the exhausting future of artificial intelligence

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM January 27, 2018

Alan Kohler

The appointment of a world-leading quantum computing and artificial intelligence researcher, Professor Michelle Simmons, as 2018 Australian of the Year brings AI into the Australian limelight.
But it’s perhaps worth remembering that not everyone is thrilled about it. Stephen Hawking said last year that AI could be the worst event in the history of civilisation, while Tesla’s Elon Musk went a step further, saying AI is “highly likely” to destroy civilisation. “Maybe there’s a 5-10 per cent chance of success,” he said (that is, of making it safe).
Lead counsel for the defence is the excellent Michelle Simmons, working six days a week to take Australia to the forefront of AI, ably supported in the task of promoting it by the global consultancies getting rich advising companies how to do it.
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'Divisions widening and conflicts deepening': Malcolm Turnbull issues Holocaust remembrance warning

Fergus Hunter
Published: January 27 2018 - 5:49PM
"Around our world, we see divisions widening and conflicts deepening," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, warning people to learn from one of the darkest chapters in human history.
In a statement, Mr Turnbull said it was as important as ever to contemplate the Holocaust – known as the Shoah in Hebrew – in which the Nazis murdered up to 6 million Jews and millions of other civilians, including people with disabilities and mental illnesses, Slavs, Roma, gay men and Christians.
"We see the hardening of hearts and closing of minds. Indeed, the experiences of the past, as well as our own changing and challenging times, vividly highlight the continuing struggle for peace and understanding," Mr Turnbull said on Saturday.
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National Budget Issues.

Scott Morrison ramps up rhetoric on company tax cuts amid jobs bonanza

Adam Gartrell
Published: January 21 2018 - 9:27PM
The Turnbull government will ramp up its campaign for deeper company tax cuts over the coming weeks as it seeks to convince the Senate that following Donald Trump's economic lead will help extend Australia's record-breaking run of job creation.
But Labor has been quick to rule out changing course on the $65 billion cut when Federal Parliament returns next month, describing it as an "extraordinary waste of money".  
Treasurer Scott Morrison returned to work on Sunday to trumpet last week's jobs figures, which showed employment rose every month in 2017 – the first time that's happened in a calender year since records began four decades ago.
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  • Jan 23 2018 at 9:02 AM

Scott Morrison puts personal tax cuts before companies

Treasurer Scott Morrison upped the ante on personal tax cuts this year saying "people will see personal income tax cuts before big companies will see company tax cuts".
Asked about the prospect of personal income tax cuts in the May budget, potentially forming the unofficial start of the government's re-election bid, Mr Morrison said he remained committed to the plan despite the $23 billion federal budget deficit.
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House prices, uncertain surplus put AAA rating at risk: Standard and Poor's

Peter Martin
Published: January 25 2018 - 7:14PM
Australia has retained its coveted AAA credit rating, but Standard and Poor's, the last of the big three agencies to release its rating after the December budget update, says the outlook is "negative".
The evaluation published on Thursday reflects doubt about the government's ability to deliver the thin surplus of 0.5 per cent of GDP promised for 2020-21.
"We could lower our ratings if within the next year or so we come to the view that the government's fiscal consolidation measures are insufficient to achieve that target," the report says.
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Cost of tax breaks soars on profits from sale of family homes

Peter Martin
Published: January 27 2018 - 10:11AM
Government spending on tax breaks is set to hit a record $170 billion this year, largely as a result of an explosion in the value of concession for the family home.
Treasury's Tax Expenditures Statement required under the Charter of Budget Honesty and released quietly after the close of business on Thursday puts the value of the exemption from capital gains tax for owner occupiers at $74 billion this financial year, up from $66.5 billion last financial year, which was itself $5 billion more than Treasury had forecast.
Four years ago, before house prices shot up, it was worth $46.5 billion. Treasury says by 2020-21 it will be worth $91 billion.
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Company tax: A tick from the IMF but Australian cuts no sure thing

Peter Martin, Eryk Bagshaw
Published: January 27 2018 - 12:01AM
When the International Monetary Fund boosted its forecasts of world economic growth on the back of better prospects in the US this week, Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison was quick to claim it as an endorsement of company tax cuts.
"These new global growth forecasts demonstrate yet again that the move that's been taken in the United States, but also in other countries, the United Kingdom and France and other parts of the world, to drive their economies and to see their businesses grow, is going to generate growth and jobs," he said.
"Labor is stopping us."
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Health Budget Issues.

Australian Medical Association wants junk health fund policies scrapped

Sue Dunlevy, National Health Reporter, News Corp Australia Network
January 22, 2018 12:00am
EXCLUSIVE
Health funds are charging families up to $3,000 a year to cover them for treatment in a public hospital, something they are entitled to for free under Medicare.
The so called junk policies are being subsidised by taxpayers via a government tax subsidy worth up to $800.
And when health fund members go to use some of these policies they have to pay an excess of $500 a year. If they were public patients they would get their care in the same hospital for free.
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Doctors warn of rural mental health crisis

There is a mental health crisis in rural and regional Australia, the Royal Flying Doctor Service is warning.
Australian Associated Press January 22, 201811:18am
The Royal Flying Doctor Service is warning there is a mental health crisis in rural and remote parts of the country.
The service's chief executive Martin Laverty says five times as many people in cities are accessing mental health services compared to those in remote Australia.
"If that's not a crisis, I don't know what a crisis is," Mr Laverty told ABC radio on Monday.
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WA approves free meningococcal vaccine for infants

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM January 24, 2018

Andrew Burrell

Western Australia has become the first state to provide a free vaccine for small children against four strains of meningococcal disease following the deaths of six people from the bacterial infection last year.
WA had the biggest spike in the number of meningococcal cases and the most fatalities from the disease last year, with the highest attack rate among children aged under five.
There were 46 reported cases in WA, representing about 15 per cent of the number of cases nationally.
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Hunt announces lowest health insurance hike since 2001

  • The Australian
  • 9:11AM January 25, 2018

Rachel Baxendale

Sarah-Jane Tasker

Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced a health insurance premium rise of 3.95 per cent, hailing the increase as the lowest annual premium change since 2001.
The more modest hike follows a rise of 4.84 per cent last year, and an increase of 50.7 per cent between 2010 and 2016.
From April 1, singles can expect to pay an average extra $72.80 a year, while families will be an extra $143 out of pocket.
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Unhealthy insurance sector needs a check-up

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM January 26, 2018

John Durie

Health Minister Greg Hunt should treat the average 3.95 per cent premium rate increase for private health funds as a call for more reform rather than a cause for celebration.
A premium increase at double the rate of inflation is hardly something to cheer about.
The increases unveiled yesterday were below the 4.8 per cent approved last year, and the 3.88 per cent increase for Medibank Private ranks as the lowest for 17 years.
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NSW government abandons fifth hospital privatisation plan in Maitland

Kate Aubusson, James Robertson
Published: January 27 2018 - 12:15AM
More than a year after it announced it was opening up five regional hospitals to tenders that would have them privately built and run, the state government quietly decided to keep the last entirely in public hands on Friday, in what the opposition says is a backdown of its position.
Former Health Minister Jillian Skinner made a surprise announcement in 2016 to open up more than $1 billion in hospital upgrades at Wyong, Goulburn, Shellharbour, Bowral and Maitland to private tenders for construction and operation.
But on Friday Ms Skinner's successor Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced all would be entirely government run ending a campaign against privatisation nearly 18 months long. 
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Doctors upset by $20m pain pills program

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM January 27, 2018

Sean Parnell

The Australian Medical Association has criticised the federal government for giving $20 million to the pharmacy sector for a pain program to start when ­codeine products go script-only on February 1.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has authorised the Pharmacy Guild and Pharmaceutical Society to co-ordinate a Pain Meds­Check trial across Australia.
“Pain matters to so many ­people,” Mr Hunt said.
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GPs could be banned from prescribing addictive painkillers

Aisha Dow
Published: January 26 2018 - 4:27PM
General practitioners could be banned from prescribing strong painkillers in an attempt to prevent Australia following the United States into an opioid overdose epidemic.
Australia’s drug regulator has warned the nation is “trending down a similar path” to countries enduring pharmaceutical drugs crises. More than half a million Australians are estimated to be dependent on their prescription painkiller.
In a consultation paper, the Therapeutic Goods Administration flagged the idea of preventing some doctors prescribing well-known schedule 8 opioids including morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl and pethidine.
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International Issues.

President Donald Trump made 2140 false or misleading claims in his first year

Glenn Kessler and Meg Kelly
Published: January 21 2018 - 4:56PM
One year after taking the oath of office, President Donald Trump has made 2140 false or misleading claims, according to The Washington Post's The Fact Checker database that analyses, categorises and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the President. That's an average of nearly 5.9 claims a day.
We started this project as part of our coverage of the President's first 100 days, largely because we could not possibly keep up with the pace and volume of the President's misstatements. Readers demanded we keep it going for another year. The database has proved so useful - and even sparked the interest of academicians - that we now plan to keep it going for the rest of Trump's presidency.
We've kept a running list of every false or misleading statement made by Trump. We also catalogued the President's many flip-flops, since those earn Upside-Down Pinocchios if a politician shifts position on an issue without acknowledging he or she did so.
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Turkish forces push into Syria to attack US-backed Kurdish militia

Dominic Evans
Published: January 22 2018 - 1:38AM
Azaz: Turkish ground forces pushed into northern Syria's Afrin province on Sunday, Ankara said, after launching artillery and air strikes on a US-backed Kurdish militia it aims to sweep from its border.
The Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia, supported by the United States but seen as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, said it had repulsed the Turkish forces and their allies after fierce clashes.
It marked the second day of fighting after Turkey opened a new front in the nearly seven-year-old Syrian war.
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Donald Trump has made the Republican Party a cartoon version of itself

Jennifer Rubin
Published: January 22 2018 - 8:47AM
Washington: The sight of conservative Republicans cheering President Donald Trump as a great success in his first year in office tells us much about the state of conservatism and the future of the GOP.
There are two components to the reverential treatment of Trump: first, praise for allegedly conservative wins, and second, a willingness to tolerate falsehoods and attacks upon democratic norms and the American creed, as though these are matters of style.
As to the first, "conservatism" these days has become (both in the eyes of liberals who think conservatism is interchangeable with "right-wing extremism" and those claiming the conservative mantle) a cartoon version of itself.
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American politics came of age with Monica Lewinsky

Nicole Hemmer
Published: January 21 2018 - 11:45PM
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, an affair that resulted in Bill Clinton's impeachment. As tumultuous as the Clinton years were, in retrospect they seem a bit quaint: a time when bipartisan deals could still be struck, when the nation was still trying to find a language to talk about sexual harassment, when the internet was still a delightful novelty.
But that past is not so distant. In the turmoil of the Lewinsky scandal, we can see modern American politics being born. From the obsession with scandal to the pursuit of unpopular policies to the emergence of a new and powerful political media, the Lewinsky scandal was the first political moment to bear the hallmarks of our present moment.
The affair began not in 1998 but 1995, during a protracted government shutdown. With non-essential employees furloughed, unpaid interns had to take their place. One of those interns? Monica Lewinsky. She and Clinton met, flirted, and consummated their relationship during the shutdown, and would continue to liaise for another year and a half.
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Donald Trump's solution to the government shutdown? Just change the rules

Susan Cornwell and Howard Schneider
Published: January 22 2018 - 4:07AM
Washington: US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that the way to end a government shutdown was for the Republicans to change the Senate voting rules.
Funding for federal agencies ran out on Saturday with Trump and Republican lawmakers locked in a standoff with Democrats. As the shutdown entered its second day, there appeared to be no clear path for a quick end to the crisis.
"The Dems (Democrats) just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51 percent (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget," Trump said on Twitter.
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  • Updated Jan 22 2018 at 9:49 AM

Shutdown reflects Donald Trump's age of dysfunction

by Edward Luce
There is nothing like a good shutdown to remind America that Washington still exists. But the latest one, which started at midnight on Friday, comes with a special flavour — it coincides with the first anniversary of Donald Trump's inauguration.
Unlike previous shutdowns, including a 16-day one during Barack Obama's presidency, the latest has been actively willed by the president. Mr Trump tweeted last year that Washington needed "a good shutdown" to clear the air. At several points, Mr Trump and Democratic legislators have struck a deal to keep government open only for Mr Trump to renege shortly afterwards. Now, having allowed federal departments to shutter, Mr Trump is goading Democrats to keep it that way.
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'Defiance disorder': Another book describes chaos in Trump's White House

Ashley Parker
Published: January 23 2018 - 2:54AM
Washington: In late July, the White House had just finished an official policy review on transgender individuals serving in the military and President Donald Trump and his then-chief of staff, Reince Priebus, had agreed to meet in the Oval Office to discuss the four options awaiting the president in a decision memo.
But then Trump unexpectedly pre-empted the conversation and sent his entire administration scrambling, by tweeting out his own decision - that the government would not allow transgender individuals to serve - just moments later.
"'Oh my God, he just tweeted this,'" Priebus said, according to a new book by Howard Kurtz, who hosts Fox News' Media Buzz. There was, Kurtz writes, "no longer a need for the meeting."
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  • Updated Jan 23 2018 at 10:00 AM

Donald Trump and the many meanings of genius

by Gideon Rachman
When Donald Trump described himself as a "very stable genius", even some of his supporters sniggered. The US president is clearly not a genius in any normal sense of the word. Rex Tillerson, his own secretary of state, is reputed to have described his boss as a "f***ing moron".
But Mr Trump has a legitimate claim to three other kinds of "genius": political genius, instinctive genius and evil genius. Moral disgust with Mr Trump means that his opponents are reluctant to credit him with any kind of intelligence or success. But that kind of thinking, while understandable, is also dangerous. It is one reason why the president frequently wrongfoots his opponents.
As Mr Trump pointed out, when making his own immodest claim to "genius", he achieved something unprecedented in modern American history. He was a complete political outsider who won the presidency on his first attempt. His enemies would point to the just-resolved government shutdown to suggest that the president is nonetheless completely unfit to govern. But Trump supporters will respond by pointing to a growing economy, and the passage of the first large-scale tax reform in more than 30 years.
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Trump So Far Is More Farce Than Tragedy

Like any strange and quarrelsome sect, the church of anti-Trump conservatism has divided and subdivided since Donald Trump’s election. Some members have apostatized and joined the ranks of Trumpists; others have marched leftward, with anti-Trumpism as a gateway drug to wokeness. There is a faction that is notionally skeptical of Trump but functionally anti-anti-Trump, a faction that insists it’s just calling “balls and strikes” and a faction screaming that the president rigged the game and needs to be thrown out.
But amid all these disputations the central question facing anti-Trump conservatives — and not only us — can be simplified to this: Is what we’re watching a tragedy or a farce?
The case for tragedy is made this month by David Frum in his book “Trumpocracy,” which builds on his year-old Atlantic essay, “How to Build An Autocracy” and amplifies its central theme: that our president is a corrupt authoritarian, that his party has prostituted itself to wield unfettered power, and that this is an hour of great peril for the American republic, which teeters on the lip of the precipice that Erdogan’s Turkey and Putin’s Russia have toppled over.
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US government shutdown ends

Published: January 23 2018 - 12:52PM
Washington: US senators struck a deal on Monday to lift a three-day government shutdown as Democrats agreed to end the standoff in exchange for President Donald Trump's Republicans promising a debate on the future of young illegal immigrants.
Legislation to renew government funding easily cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate and was expected to pass both the Senate and House of Representatives, allowing government to reopen through February 8.
Most Democratic lawmakers had initially opposed the funding bill, demanding that the Senate also approved protections for young undocumented immigrants known as "Dreamers."
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The forgotten crises: the humanitarian emergencies the world ignored in 2017

Adam Gartrell
Published: January 23 2018 - 12:23PM
Did you know that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than 5000 people are fleeing their homes every day as communal violence worsens? 
Or that armed groups have seized control of 70 per cent of the Central African Republic and attacks against women and children are escalating?
Did you know that in Eritrea nearly half of all children are being left stunted by malnutrition as their parents battle drought and disease? Or that in Burundi, political instability has fuelled violence and food shortages that have left 2.6 million people unable to properly feed themselves, while also grappling with a deadly malaria epidemic? Or that the crisis in Sudan is grinding on, with 2.3 million people now internally displaced?
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US not starting trade war, but sees China tech threat: US at Davos

Mark Bendeich
Published: January 25 2018 - 5:27AM
Davos, Switzerland: The United States is not starting a trade war but trying to level the playing field of global commerce and fend off Chinese protectionism, including a "direct threat" in high-tech goods, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Wednesday.
Ross was speaking a day after Washington imposed steep import tariffs on washing machines and solar panels, billed as a way to protect American jobs by President Donald Trump, who is widely expected to take further action on steel, aluminium and intellectual property.
“The Chinese have been for quite a little while been superb at free trade rhetoric and even more superb at highly protectionist behaviour," Ross said.
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Why is little Australia still trying to box in superpower China?

Nicholas Stuart
Published: January 24 2018 - 12:15AM
Is this really the best of all possible times in the best of all possible worlds?
If you choose to believe the statistics then, yes, it may be. If you listen to the politicians – the opposition, anyway – then it's not even close. The problem, of course, is distinguishing the individual from the mass and the momentary from the enduring. Finding a way to reconcile these dichotomies will be critical to our future.
Take our obsession with the sensational.
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China now publishes more science research than the US

  • Rhys Blakely,The Times
  • The Australian
  • 11:01AM January 25, 2018
China has overtaken the United States in the volume of scientific research each country publishes, a landmark as it seeks to cement its status as a superpower.
In 2016 China published more than 426,000 scientific studies, accounting for about 19 per cent of the international total, according to a report from the National Science Foundation, based in Virginia. For the first time, the US came in second place, with about 409,000 published papers.
The figures were an indication of how the Beijing government has poured resources into cultivating scientific expertise. China is now the world’s second-largest spender on research and development, accounting for 21 per cent of the world total of nearly $US2 trillion $2.5 trillion) in 2015. The US, with 26 per cent of the total, was the only country ranked higher. If present rates of growth continue, China will soon take the lead.
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Hungarian mass honouring Nazi ally cancelled after Jewish protests

Published: January 26 2018 - 6:39AM
Budapest: A Budapest church has called off a memorial mass it was planning to hold in honour of a former Hungarian leader and Nazi ally on Saturday - International Holocaust Remembrance Day - after protests from Hungarian Jews and the World Jewish Congress.
Parliament's deputy speaker who is member of the ruling Fidesz party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, had been due to speak at the event called in memory of interwar Governor Miklos Horthy.
The planned ceremony for Horthy, an admiral who led Hungary for 24 years until 1944 and handed over hundreds of thousands of Jews to the Nazis, triggered strong objections from Jewish organisations.
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George Soros unleashes on Trump administration in Davos speech

Katia Porzecanski
Published: January 26 2018 - 9:47AM
George Soros said President Donald Trump is risking a nuclear war with North Korea and predicts that the groundswell of opposition he's generated will be his downfall.
"I consider the Trump administration a danger to the world," the billionaire investor said in a speech from Davos, Switzerland.
"But I regard it as a purely temporary phenomenon that will disappear in 2020, or even sooner."
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Anti-globalist Trump declares America 'open for business' in Davos speech

Noah Bierman
Published: January 27 2018 - 2:37AM
Davos, Switzerland: US President Donald Trump has made his salesman's pitch for America before an international crowd of corporate and political titans, and taken credit for its economic success, yet he was shadowed by clouds from home - news of his heightened jeopardy in the Russia probe and opposition to his immigration plan.
The speech on Friday, local time, at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos was unusual for its venue: A president who campaigned against globalism sought to define his "America First" policy to an audience of international elites who view free trade and global cooperation as bedrock principles.
"America is open for business and we are competitive once again," Trump told attendees in a large hall, speaking in deliberate tones from teleprompters, unlike his usual riffs at rallies and other gatherings of loyalists.
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Trump wanted Mueller sacked but his lawyer refused to do it

Michael S. Schmidt
Published: January 26 2018 - 12:40PM
Washington: US President Donald Trump ordered the sacking last June of Robert Mueller, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.
The West Wing confrontation marks the first time Trump is known to have tried to dismiss the special counsel. Mueller learnt about the episode in recent months as his investigators interviewed current and former senior White House officials in his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice.
Amid the first wave of news media reports that Mueller was examining a possible obstruction case, the President began to argue that Mueller had three conflicts of interest that disqualified him from overseeing the investigation, two of the people said.
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'It's a massacre': Scores killed in ambulance blast near embassies in Kabul

Hamid Shalizi, Mirwais Harooni
Published: January 28 2018 - 4:43AM
Kabul: A bomb hidden in an ambulance killed at least 95 people and wounded almost 160 more in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday when it blew up at a police checkpoint that was crowded with pedestrians at the time of the attack.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide blast, a week after they claimed an attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in which more than 20 people were killed.
An interior ministry spokesman blamed the Haqqani network, a militant group affiliated with the Taliban that Afghan and Western officials say is behind many of the largest attacks on urban targets in Afghanistan.
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Despite the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin bromance, conflict brews between Russia and the west

Nick O'Malley
Published: January 27 2018 - 12:15AM
January 28 marks one year to the day since Donald Trump lost his rag so spectacularly at Malcolm Turnbull during the first phone conversation between the two leaders. "I have had it," said Trump. "I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous."
The incident was to become significant in the nascent field of Trump-interpretation because it confirmed both the worst fears of the new president's detractors and the greatest hopes of his fans – that President Trump would be the same man as Candidate Trump. He would be brash and rude, he would ignore protocol and best practice. He would, should the mood take him, spurn old friends like Australia, and embrace new ones, like Russia.
A year later Trump's ties to Vladimir Putin and Russia cast a deepening shadow over his presidency even as the relationship between Russia and the United States and its allies deteriorates dangerously.
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I look forward to comments on all this!
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David.

1 comment:

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