Funding health: part 1

Earlier in the year, there was much talk by the government about the ‘unsustainable’ growth of health funding. In July, the premier of NSW, Mike Baird, joined the party suggesting that the GST should be raised to 15% to help cover rising health costs. But how bad is the situation?

In 2012‒13, the most recent year for which full details are available from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), total expenditure on health in Australia was $147.4 billion, about 9.7% of GDP — commonwealth government spending on health was about $61 billion. Overall spending had grown from $68.8 billion in 2002‒03 — or $90 billion in 2002‒03 in constant (2012‒13) prices. The average annual real growth of health spending over the decade was 5%.

Australia’s health expenditure as a proportion of GDP is very near the average for the OECD and most countries also saw their health spending rise over that decade (Iceland, Turkey and Israel were the exceptions).

There are a number of players in Australia that contribute to meeting those health costs, not just the commonwealth and state governments — and even in considering the commonwealth government we need to include the Department of Veterans’ Affairs which contributes over $3 billion a year. Private health funds obviously contribute a small amount, as do insurance companies through injury compensation payments. And, of course, so do each of us as individuals, through out-of-pocket expenses and co-payments (at present, the latter is mostly for pharmaceuticals).

The proportion contributed by each group at the start and end of the period was as follows:

Agency 2002‒03 2012‒13
Commonwealth government 43.6% 41.4%
State and territory governments 24.4% 27.0%
Health insurance funds 7.9% 8.0%
Individuals 16.6% 17.8%
Other (largely insurance companies) 7.3% 5.7%

Those figures show that state governments and individuals have seen their contribution increase since 2002‒03, and that was in 2012‒13 before the Abbott government was elected and proposed measures to further increase state government and individual contributions. Despite abandoning the GP co-payment, the government has acted to achieve the same result by freezing Medicare rebates until 2018.

There are many different areas of health expenditure, including dental (three-quarters of which is paid by health funds and individuals), patient transport services and community health (largely met by the states) and aids and appliances (largely met by individuals). They each add a few billion dollars annually to overall health expenditure. The main areas, however, are:

  1. hospitals, public and private: In 2012‒13, about $56 billion was spent on hospital services, 78% in public hospitals and 22% in private hospitals. The commonwealth government provided $16.2 billion and the states $23.7 billion for public hospitals and individuals contributed $1.3 billion. For private hospitals the health funds provided $5.7 billion but the commonwealth government also paid $3.6 billion and individuals $1.5 billion. Insurance companies also spent $1.8 billion in public hospitals and $760 million in private hospitals.

  2. primary care (unreferred) services and referred medical services: ‘Unreferred medical services’, about 90% of which are visits to GPs, cost the commonwealth government $8.3 billion in 2012‒13 out of total expenditure of $10.2 billion (with insurance companies contributing $1.2 billion). The commonwealth government paid $11.4 billion for ‘referred’ medical services, health funds $1.3 billion and individuals $2.4 billion. (When individuals contribute almost twice as much as health funds for referred services, there is a basis to question the real value of health insurance.)

  3. pharmaceuticals: For subsidised pharmaceuticals there are only two groups who pay: the commonwealth government ($8.4 billion in 2012‒13) and individuals ($1.5 billion). We also spent, as individuals, another $8.7 billion on other medications. Those are the AIHW figures for 2012‒13. The payments made by the PBS are lower because the overall government figure includes immunisation programs and some direct payments to pharmaceutical wholesalers. In 2012‒13 PBS reported 197 million prescriptions of subsidised medicines for which it paid just over $7 billion and $1.5 billion was paid by patients (the same as the AIHW figure). For 2013‒14, there were 209 million prescriptions at a cost to the PBS of $7.3 billion and patients again paid a little over $1.5 billion. It is interesting that the average cost (including the patient contribution) actually fell from $43.49 in 2012‒13 to $42.19 in 2013‒14.
There have been slight changes, between 2002‒03 and 2012‒13, in the proportion of overall health expenditure that these main areas represent:

Area of expenditure 2002‒03 2012‒13
Public hospitals 30.4% 31.6%
Private hospitals 8.5% 8.7%
Unreferred medical services 7.9% 7.3%
Referred medical services 10.6% 10.9%
Pharmaceuticals 9.4% 7.2%

While a greater proportion of health funding is being spent in hospitals and on referred medical services, we are spending a lesser proportion on unreferred medical services and pharmaceuticals. One of the bigger areas of growth is our own expenditure on non-subsidised and non-prescription medications which rose from 5.1% to 6.7% of health spending in those years.

All of the expenditure I have referred to above is ‘recurrent’ costs, that is the price of services and consumables. There is also capital expenditure, mainly the building and refurbishing of hospitals, including the purchase of major equipment, but this tends to be only a few billion each year: $8.6 billion in 2012‒13 of which the commonwealth government provided only $72 million. Almost all of the capital expenditure comes from state governments ($5.1 billion) and private providers ($3.4 billion).

The AIHW report states that for seven out of the ten years up to 2012‒13 health prices actually increased by less than the rate of inflation and that much of the continuing rise in expenditure was a result of an increase in the volume of goods and services. The year 2012‒13 was a bit of a hiccup with the volume of services declining but the price increasing. Based on Medicare data, the volume of services did resume rising in 2013‒14.

The commonwealth government’s main areas of funding are ‘medical services and benefits’ (largely Medicare payments but the private health insurance rebate is also included under that heading), pharmaceutical benefits, payments to support state-run public hospitals, and for ‘other health services’ (which incorporates mental health, hearing services, blood and blood products, and research).

In the decade to 2012‒13 the commonwealth government’s health expenditure usually required around 17% of government revenue. [That figure and many of the following figures up to 2013‒14 (including in Part 2) are my own calculations using ‘final outcome’ figures for each budget.] It fell as low as 14.6% in 2007‒08 and reached a peak of 18.8% in 2011‒12: in 2014‒15 it was forecast to be 17.6% but was projected to fall back to 17.1% by 2016‒17. The increase in recent years was mainly a result of the slow rate of overall revenue growth for government.

In the last Wayne Swan budget the commonwealth government was projected to spend $280 billion on health between 2013‒14 and 2016‒17. The 2014‒15 Hockey budget reduced that to $271 billion, the largest reductions being for pharmaceuticals (‒$4.5 billion) and payments to the states for public hospitals (‒$2 billion). Treasury indicated that most of the reduction in pharmaceuticals was related to more accurate information about the cost of medicines, as the government now requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide the actual price at which they sell to wholesalers and pharmacies.

Under the Abbott government there will be further reductions in payments to the states for public hospitals because it will abandon a number of agreements, that were made under the Rudd and Gillard governments. Under the National Health Reform Agreement 2011 the Commonwealth was applying:
… an activity based funding approach to determine an ‘efficient price’ for hospital services. The Commonwealth pledged to meet 45 per cent of the growth in the efficient price initially, rising to 50 per cent after 2017. The states and territories will meet the balance.
When that agreement now ceases in July 2017, Commonwealth funding will revert to the old model linking CPI and population growth.

Abbott and Hockey also abrogated the National Partnership Agreement on Improving Public Hospital Services as from July this year. That agreement was meant to help improve access to elective surgery, emergency care and subacute care. It will save the commonwealth government $201 million over the forward estimates but the states may have to reconsider what they can fund.

A lot is said about the Medicare levy and whether there is a need to increase it. In 2012‒13 it raised $10.2 billion, $10.5 billion in 2013-14 and was forecast to increase to $14.1 billion in 2014‒15 but that includes the additional 0.5% for the NDIS. Although the Medicare levy is simply paid into consolidated revenue, we can estimate that about $10.6 billion should be available for health, as opposed to disability funding.

Medicare statistics show there were 356 million services provided in 2013‒14, an increase of about 12.5 million on 2012‒13 (about 38% of those services were non-referred, mainly GPs). Benefits paid increased from $18.6 billion to $19.1 billion. So the Medicare levy covered about 55% of benefits. It more than covers the cost of non-referred visits, which amounted to $5.9 billion in 2012‒13 and $6.4 billion in 2013‒14. It is the referred services, which include specialists, obstetrics, pathology and diagnostic imaging (amongst others) which cost the most: referred services increased by almost 6.7 million in 2013‒14 (about 54% of the total increase in services), and cost $146 million more but that was after a reduction of $594 million in payments for ‘allied health’, so the real increase was more in the order of $740 million; non-referred services increased by 5.8 million and the payments increased by $411 million. Doubling the Medicare levy would certainly cover all benefit payments: if the levy had been 3% in 2013‒14 it would have raised about $21 billion, almost $2 billion more than Medicare payments. But is that necessary? The original aim of the Medicare levy wasn’t to fully cover costs but to make the cost-sharing equitable. It is also notable that the average cost per service for Medicare fell slightly, from $54.03 in 2012‒13 to $53.69 in 2013‒14 (or a saving of $116 million if the number of services did not increase).

Health costs a lot but the above figures indicate that health prices aren’t rising all that fast, and have actually fallen recently. We could have cheaper health but at what cost to our health! Our health services are highly regulated for obvious reasons: we expect that the people who examine us and operate on us are properly qualified; we expect our medications to be safe and efficacious; we expect our health services to be available to us in a timely manner. That all adds to the final cost of health services.

The issue is who pays? The commonwealth government is trying to reduce its contribution but that doesn’t necessarily reduce overall health expenditure — it just moves costs elsewhere, to state governments and individuals. Under the Abbott government, it is easy to believe that it may actually be a way of achieving greater privatisation of medicine by putting pressure on public hospitals, shifting costs to individuals, and so encouraging greater use of private health funds and private hospitals.

Next week, Part 2 will look at the commonwealth government’s future health funding issues.

What do you think?
The Abbott government is insisting that it cannot continue to meet the rising cost of health services but, as Ken points out, someone still has to pay. The data presented by Ken suggest that there has already been a shift in health costs to state governments and individuals since 2002‒03 and now the Abbott government seems intent on accelerating that transfer.

Come back next week for Part 2 of ‘Funding health’.

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16/08/2015Thank you Ken for your comprehensive account of the elements of health funding, which gives us an appreciation of where the money goes and who pays. Those of us who have been involved in primary health care, or general practice, or family medicine, whichever term you prefer, have said for decades that this aspect of health care is the least costly, and the most cost effective. Further, we argued that investing in primary health care saved money, simply because good primary care reduces the need for secondary and tertiary care, which is provided mostly in hospitals where the big costs are. Your figures show how expensive hospital care is, much more so than primary care. Care which diminishes the need for hospital care saves money, lots of it. The reason is that primary care focuses on prevention and avoidance of illness, on keeping people healthy, which is much less costly than patching up people when they become ill or injure themselves, especially if this requires hospital or institutional care. Many large international studies have shown that good quality primary care is the most cost-effective care, and saves health systems lots of money. It is therefore impossible to understand why the Abbott government targeted primary care as a way to reduce healthcare costs by imposing a so-called GP co-payment, which was intended to save money by reducing the number of GP attendances. I can remember Eric Abetz insisting that Australians consulted their GPs far too often and the GP co-payment would curtail this excessive use. How Abetz arrived at this conclusion is a mystery. In any case, is consulting a GP more often a good or a bad thing? If more consultations resulted in better health and fewer illnesses and accidents, would that not save a lot of money in the secondary and tertiary care sectors? Apparently Abetz didn't think about this. But then what would he know about the economics of healthcare? Governments would make their healthcare dollars go much further if they invested in primary care, rather than detracting from it. Proper funding of GP training and providing incentives for well trained GPs to enter general practice, especially in regional, remote and under-serviced areas, would result in a higher level of prevention, better chronic disease management, a better level of health in the community, and many fewer referred consultations and hospitalisations, the very services that your essay Ken shows are the most expensive. Why politicians can't grasp this well researched fact of health economics is beyond me. Maybe it's the old,old story of the rent seekers winning out: the lobbyists for secondary care and the pharmaceutical industry bamboozling those who finance healthcare into funding them preferentially over those providing high quality primary care in the community. Some are very slow learners. I wonder Ken how many politicians are aware of the facts that are exposed in your piece? Does Hockey understand them? Dutton certainly didn't. Hopefully Sussan Ley will. But she will be leaned upon by Hockey and Cormann to 'reduce costs' any way she can, rather than using health dollars cost-effectively by putting them preferentially into primary care. If she does the latter, she will make a major contribution to containing the rise of healthcare costs. I look forward to reading your part 2 of 'Funding health' where you will address the commonwealth government's future health funding.


17/08/2015NOVELTY SECTION: IDEAS IN POLITICS 1. Two Futures: Australia at a Critical Moment (incl video of 5.34m) Clare O'Neil and Tim Watts In this agenda-setting book, two young parliamentarians take the long view. They identify the dramatic changes looming on the horizon and outline creative ideas for tackling them. Fact-driven and progressive, optimistic and impassioned, Two Futures begins the debate about the decades ahead that we need to have. 2. New MPs want to restore faith in politics Michael Gordon What dismayed Clare O'Neil, another member of Labor's class of 2013, was more familiar to regular viewers of televised coverage: the "unbridled aggression and one-upmanship" of players on both sides, prompting the conclusion that here was the Parliament at its worst behaviour and least productive. 3. It's the end of politics as we know it, and I feel fine Tim Dunlop How much longer are we going to go on imagining things will get better if only Labor or the Coalition could get their acts together or find the right leader? Folks, it's over. We need to reinvent the way we do politics 4. Emotional Intelligence and Leadership: The Case of Tony Trish Corry August 16, 2015 “If high emotional intelligence is intrinsic to transformational leadership and political skill, and these are antecedents for progress; then, is low emotional intelligence in a Prime Minister, a hindrance to progress?” 5. Australia's national security should be above politics but not beyond scrutiny Tanya Plibersek We learned about a national security matter from a newspaper rather than the prime minister when a Liberal backbencher floated the idea of bombing Syria POLL POSITION 6. Another poll knock to Coalition and Abbott Michelle Grattan Labor has extended its lead and Bill Shorten has improved his position vis-a-vis Tony Abbott in the latest polling blow to the government, putting further pressure on the prime minister. 7. Coalition a victim of its own trickiness as colleagues lose faith in Tony Abbott Lenore Taylor. 14 August 2015 19.32 As the divisions deepen and the polls get worse, the government is again descending into a self-defeating cycle of instability and suspicion.. Behind the Abbott government’s very bad week – a careening series of disasters that looked like the political version of an AAMI ad – is a common thread that could wreck it permanently. Tricky politics has driven Tony Abbott into yet another crisis. 8. Tony Abbott's leadership faces new dangers as Fairfax-Ipsos poll predicts Coalition wipeout Mark Kenny. August 16, 2015 - 6:26PM 9. An Open Letter to the Liberal Party Victoria Rollison Dear Liberal Party Is he worth it? Is Tony Abbott’s Prime Ministership worth it since he’s done such irreparable damage to your brand? 10. Former Wallaby Bill Calcraft wants Bronwyn Bishop's seat Heath Aston August 16, 2015 - 1:25AM As a career businessman, Mr Calcraft would provide the Liberal Party with a point of difference between the neighbouring seats of Warringah and North Sydney, held by Mr Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey. His private equity investment roles involved financing 60 wind farms and commercial solar developments. JUDGE NOT, LEST YE BE JUDGED... APPREHENDED BIAS 11. The sometimes enjoyable mind of Dyson Heydon Richard Ackland Dyson Heydon’s conservative worldview was well-known long before the Liberal party invitation scandal blew up. Just ask his fellow judges. [here is] background to understand why the man Dyson Heydon could be seen to be out of step with community values and expectations – and why he’s in political strife right now. 12. How The Dyson Heydon Controversy Unfolded #TURC Ross Bowler. August 16, 2015 So it can be seen that significant tension has arisen as a result of Commissioner Heydon agreeing to give the speech to the Liberal Party fundraiser. I would resolve the dynamic tension by having Commissioner Heydon withdraw or stand down from the Commission of Inquiry. 13. You're invited to our nefarious party fundraiser. Dress code: raccoon First Dog on the Moon. Who has time to read invitations or diaries these days with all the royal commissions and important speeches taking up our time? 14. Could the Royal Commission go on without Dyson Heydon? The Drum The question is, could he simply be replaced or would his whole inquiry need to be dissolved? 15. But he is an honourable man… Jennifer Wilson What is notable in the impassioned defence of Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Attorney-General George Brandis,… 16. Brilliant Abbott Strategy: The Best Way To Stop People Talking About The Last Mistake Is To Make Your Next! Rossleigh When I decided to do a bit of research about the person heading the Royal Commission, Dyson Heydon, I noticed… ENVIRONMENTAL TRICKERY 17. Australian Psychological Society disturbed by climate denialists' misleading advert Graham Readfearn 15 August 2015, 8:15am Australia’s peak body representing psychologists has attacked a climate science denial group for a prominent advert taken out in a major national newspaper. [...],8053 18. Murdoch's Times verbals climate scientist as conspiracy theorist DeSmog Blog 10 August 2015 Rupert Murdoch's The Times newspaper in London has viciously verballed a prominent climate scientist in an apparent effort to ridicule and discredit him.,8038 19. Australia’s 2030 climate target puts us in the race, but at the back Frank Jotzo Australia’s new emissions target is not “squarely in the middle of comparable economies". Towards the bottom of the pack of comparable countries, on key indicators. But Australia is coming to the party, and that counts for a lot. 20. Bernie Fraser contradicts PM, saying emissions target puts Australia 'near the bottom' globally Lenore Taylor. 14 August 2015 18.52 AEST Climate Change Authority chairman insists ‘more ambitious targets than those adopted by the government can be achieved at modest costs’... The independent Climate Change Authority has shot down key parts of Tony Abbott’s new environmental message, saying the government’s new target is not “in the middle of the pack” of similar countries but rather “at or near the bottom”, that the $600bn price tag the government attributes to Labor’s target is “wrong” and its antagonism to emissions trading schemes is also misguided. 21. Emissions reduction target: Julie Bishop disputes Climate Change Authority's figures ABC Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has responded to the Climate Change Authority's criticism of the Government's emission reduction targets, saying its estimates are incorrect. BOY-MEN BEHAVING BADLY 22. Premature adulation heaps pressure on Nick Kyrgios Jake Niall Nick Kyrgios is a rebel without a clue. He has an abundance of what Americans call "attitude" but he also is guileless. He isn't following a public relations strategy. 23. We can only make excuses for so long, Kyrgios Monica Attard Nick Kyrgios has to do something about his behaviour after his sledge against Stan Wawrinka. The good will is evaporating. The excuses that can be proffered are running woefully short 24. Perhaps it is not just Nick Kyrgios, the bad boy of tennis, who is losing control Will Hutton From sledging in sport to hate-filled outbursts in politics, are we ignoring the inner voice of restraint?....A bad moment on a tennis court prompted a global conversation, testimony to the sense that an important line had been crossed. 25. This is not about sledging: Kyrgios comments reveal the rampant misogyny that dominates men’s sport Joanne Mayoh, Leave debates about on-court banter aside and focus on the victim here. 26. What is an emotion? Oliver Burkeman ‘We spend millions trying to fix our emotions – via therapy, books, medications – yet it’s not remotely clear what we’re trying to fix’ When the new Pixar movie Inside Out was released, a multitude of psychologists popped up to debate its portrayal of emotions, which appear as five characters – Anger, Fear, Sadness, Joy and Disgust – inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl. I found the debate strange. To be sure, there’s much to ponder in the film’s message that negative emotions have their value, and that emotions can aid decision-making, rather than just getting in the way. 27. Thanasi Kokkinakis almost fights Ryan Harrison after winning Cincinnati Masters qualifying match ABC Just days after Nick Kyrgios stole headlines around the world for his poor behaviour, Australian tennis star Thanasi Kokkinakis has almost come to blows with Ryan Harrison in qualifying for the Cincinnati Masters. 28. Tony Abbott says Liberal party must become less 'blokey' but rules out quota Prime minister says, however, that a target to help boost number of women in federal parliament would be ‘entirely reasonable’ The prime minister said the party must become less “blokey” and, while not imposing a quota, it must aim at increasing the number of women in the parliament and the ministry. 29. Women in Australian politics: data shows the gender gap has widened Nick Evershed and Shalailah Medhora Senior politicians on both sides of the fence acknowledge there are too many barriers to women entering politics. Figures show representation in Australia is failing to keep up with other countries LIBS WILL ALWAYS OUTSPEND LABOR 30. Liberal senator's office spending double that of Labor office Matthew Raggatt. August 15, 2015 - 10:00PM Liberal senator Zed Seselja racked up office bills more than $120,000 larger than those of his Labor counterpart last year – even though the opposing electorate offices are only 1000 metres apart. The spending means Katy Gallagher incurred about half the office costs of her fellow first-term senator in each of their first three months in the job.


17/08/201531. Tony Abbott sinks lower than Bill Shorten in Fairfax-Ipsos poll Peter Hartcher. August 17, 2015 - 7:17AM Inside the Prime Minister's inner circle, they tell themselves that they can win the next election because Bill Shorten is so hopeless. They've told themselves that 166 times in a row; that's the number of consecutive polls since the government was ahead in any of them.That's counting all the surveys conducted by all six national pollsters, according to the research consultant John Stirton. 32. Royal commission stand-off could define the election Paula Matthewson Labor and the Government are locked in an arm wrestle over Dyson Heydon and the union royal commission that will define their election strategies


17/08/2015Casablanca Your links show there is so much happening, I don't know how you keep up with it. Have started going through them - I found the background on Dyson Heydon particularly enlightening as to why he was chosen for the union Royal Commission. Ad Primary care needs to be the key part of any health system but as the Medicare freeze bites it is likely to lead to more people appearing at the emergency departments of hospitals (for minor conditions) because they don't have to pay. It is certainly a way of reducing hospital costs to encourage (not discourage) people going to their GP. I first learned of the extent of the freeze on Medicare rebates from my own GP: it is not something that has received a lot of publicity but if it remains in force until 2018, as planned, doctors will be forced to charge more (or make a charge in addition to the bulk billing rate) just to meet normal rising costs in a surgery. As you say, it will be counter-productive. Then again, if more people begin appearing first at hospitals, doesn't that put more pressure on the states to request an increase in the GST? Maybe it is part of the plan.


18/08/2015POLL POSITION 1. Settle down, backbenchers! You all know polls are just numbers, right? First Dog on the Moon. 17 August 2015 What do we do when we’re faced with numbers we don’t like? This is the Tony government: we just pretend they don’t exist or say something different 2. Forget the polls, News Corp is not happy with Abbott … again David Holmes August 17, 2015 10.19am AEST But for now, what is clear is that the Abbott government is in a great deal of trouble. The first sign of this is when News Corp’s newsletter to the Australian political elite, The Australian, starts to editorialise against the government. 3. Think time's up for Abbott? Don't bet on it Terry Barnes After the last week in politics it's easy to conclude the Government is toast. But Tony Abbott can take comfort in what the punters are tipping and the fact there's still plenty of time before polling day 4. Leading Abbott – chaos in the coalition keeps Abbott hanging on Jane Gilmore Aug 17, 2015 8:51AM The latest IPSOS poll hit the political media yesterday like it had been fired out of a cannon. The two party preferred vote was an election crushing L/NP 46, ALP 54. Abbott’s net approval rating (-24) is the lowest of any Prime Minister in decades. 5. Coalition facing huge election defeat after horror weeks, latest poll shows Staff and agencies. 17 August 2015 07.01 AEST Fairfax-Ipsos poll puts Labor lead at 54%-46% on two-party-preferred basis, implying the loss of between 36 and 44 Coalition seats CIGAR FIELD BARWIICK ORATION 6. Eyebrows Raised As Dyson Heydon Accidently Wears Liberal Party Cap To Royal Commission Hearing The Shovel on August 17, 2015 Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon has apologised for wearing a Liberal Party cap to the Royal Commission into Union corruption this morning, saying he ‘didn’t realise’ the cap had the Liberal Party logo emblazoned on its front. 7. When's a political fundraiser not a fundraiser? When it doesn't raise much Lenore Taylor. 17 August 2015 17.40 AEST The eminent jurist apparently expects more leeway in terms of not reading things and not remembering things than he would be likely to afford one of his witnesses. 8. Dyson Heydon 'overlooked' Liberal link, but gave commission witnesses less leeway Helen Davidson and Lenore Taylor. 17 August 2015 17.58 AEST The trade union royal commissioner has previously been scathing of witnesses appearing before him who said they did not notice or read certain documents. Dyson Heydon says he did not read email attachments about Liberal party link 9. ACTU considers taking Dyson Heydon to the high court Shalailah Medhora 16 August 2015 13.11 AEST Ged Kearney says trade union body is ‘awaiting legal advice’ as government frontbenchers rally around royal commissioner 10. There's nothing conservative about using the constitution as a political trick Chris Berg The Liberal Party used to pride itself on constitutional conservatism, but now senior ministers are seriously proposing a constitutional amendment for no other reason than to stack the deck against same-sex marriage. We are a "frozen continent", constitutionally speaking. Only eight out of 44 referendums have succeeded. 11. Federal cabinet met on Monday night without a single formal cabinet submission to consider. Lenore Taylor 17 August 2015 18.50 AEST Abbott's small government: cabinet meets without single formal submission to debate. Some Coalition members concerned policy agenda is looking thin, with either little to discuss or key details missing from briefs on the big issues POLITICS vs REALITY 12. Can we close this gulf between politics and reality? Mike Steketee When it comes to same-sex marriage, the targets to limit climate change, or the approach to asylum seekers, seldom has the gap between the real world and political debate seemed wider 13. Coalition tactics on marriage and climate change risk self-destruction Andrew Hamilton | 16 August 2015 But another aspect that has not been explored is the longer-term effect of adopting such short-term political fixes both to resolve ethical and social issues and to draw the teeth of the political opposition. 14. Politics podcast: Clare O'Neil and the future of progressive politics in Australia (21m) Michelle Grattan, Clare O'Neil, with her colleague Tim Watts, has written a book that looks at Australia in 2040. She speaks with Michelle Grattan about the book, and the future of progressive politics in Australia. Clare sat down with Michelle Grattan to talk about the book, the ideas in it and the future of progressive politics in Australia. 15. AUS1st: (Part 4 & Final) Democratising our Constitution Ross Garrad. 15 August 2015, 12:50pm "The challenge for Australian Republicans" — democratising our Constitution...the plan for a unified and sovereign Australia.,8055 16. Why isn’t our party selecting more women members of parliament? Tony Abbott asks Georgina Dent. Aug 17, 2015 11:27AM The Prime Minister delivered an address to the Federal Women’s Committee luncheon to help celebrate the committee’s 70th anniversary and to honour the work of women in the Liberal party. It is an astonishing speech to read. Not, sadly, due to its astute revelations or bold leadership, rather it is its complete and curious absence of substance, critical analysis and deductive reasoning that makes it shocking. 17. Kickstart our dire democracy by giving teens the vote Clancy Wright | 16 August 2015 Latest polls have again proved what we all know: Australia's politicians are deeply unpopular and Australians are increasingly politically disengaged. Our political system is in a rut and we need a burst of energy, a democratic defibrillator to bounce our political system back to life. 18. Has Britain’s ‘pissed off’ constituency found a leader in Jeremy Corbyn? Simon Tormey. August 12, 2015 The emergence of ageing left-winger Jeremy Corbyn as the unlikely frontrunner in the Labour Party leadership contest signals that many British voters reject what politics has become. 19. Paid parental leave cuts to hit public service strugglers hardest Noel Towell. August 17, 2015 - 11:30PM The issue returned to centre stage on Monday after Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick described the cuts as retrogressive and inconsistent with international human right laws as she warned the proposal would "exacerbate the current gender pay gap" and may "prove detrimental to women's workforce participation rates". 20. Stories the Murdoch media would rather you didn't see Michael Taylor In 2011 then News Limited chairman and CEO John Hartigan proudly announced that News Limited was “the only organisation that really takes it up to the Government“. And how true that was. That all changed, however, in September 2013. It coincided of course with the change in government. Now it would appear that News Limited is the only organisation that ensures the government gets a free ride. BANKSTERS INC 21. A royal commission into banks could end two scandals Ian Verrender. August 17, 2015 Tony Abbott should announce a royal commission into the scandals now engulfing almost every major bank in the land and shift Justice Dyson Heydon to the role. It would end the bias debate and also shine a light on the banks. 22. Save the victims: Send bank CEOs to gaol Evan Jones. 17 August 2015, 11:30am In the second of his three part series, Dr Evan Jones exposes the immense harm banks do to ordinary Australians through their consistent corruption.,8060 23. Time for Abbott Government and ASIC to get serious about Australian banksters Andrew Schmulow 10 Aug With the UK sentencing UBS banking fraudster Tom Hayes to 14 years in gaol for his part in the Libor fixing scandal, its now time for Australian regulators to crack down on systemic fraud within the Australian banking industry,8036 CLIMATE CHANGE 'VILLAIN' 24. Tony Abbott is a climate change 'villain', says Canadian author Naomi Klein Oliver Milman 17 August 2015 07.43 AEST The writer, who is coming to Australia on a speaking tour, says she cannot tell where the coal industry ends and the federal government begins HACKDOM 25. Doing the rounds in ever decreasing circles Sally Baxter. August 16, 2015 So if you should stumble across a shy Boy or Girl Reporter actually out and about in the community they serve, spare a thought and perhaps a cuppa. They don’t get out as much as they used to. BOY-MEN BEHAVING BADLY 26. Playing the woman: Healy and Kyrgios expose sport’s sexism problem David Rowe, University of Western Sydney If a misogynistic atmosphere is allowed to prevail in men’s individual and team sports, then all the platitudes about sport being a socially positive force stand exposed.


18/08/2015Australians are undergoing unnecessary surgery – here’s what we can do about it Peter Breadon & Stephen Duckett August 17, 2015 6.27am For decades, clinicians and researchers have been concerned about patients getting treatments, including operations, that don’t work. As well as failing to treat the original health problem, ineffective care exposes patients to complications and side-effects and waste precious health-care resources.

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18/08/2015Casablanca Another great collection of interesting reads. There's nothing much in any of them to give Abbott heart, except perhaps the piece by Terry Barnes, who is prepared to put more faith in the betting markets, which gives Abbott an even money chance of survival, than the opinion polls. Clutching at straws! That's about all there is for Abbott, who is now threatened with a poor result at the Canning by-election to add to the miseries that surround him in Canberra. He can't seem to back a winner himself. Nobody ought to be surprised.

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18/08/2015Casablanca Do you have a link for the Peter Breadon, Stephen Duckett article on unnecessary surgery?


18/08/2015I wonder if this was leaked or obtained by press release?


18/08/2015Ad Astra, Apologies for providing the wrong link above. Here is the correct one: Australians are undergoing unnecessary surgery – here’s what we can do about it Peter Breadon & Stephen Duckett August 17, 2015 6.27am For decades, clinicians and researchers have been concerned about patients getting treatments, including operations, that don’t work. As well as failing to treat the original health problem, ineffective care exposes patients to complications and side-effects and waste precious health-care resources.


19/08/2015POLL POSITION 1. The sea of Coalition MPs who would have lost their seats had an election been held at the weekend Lisa Cox August 18, 2015 - 1:28PM As many as 36 seats held by Liberal or National Party MPs would have fallen on the back of a uniform 7.5 per cent swing, according to the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll. 2. You can't take two bites of the election apple Peter Lewis The adage that you can't win an election on the same issue twice appears backed up by recent polling, so any attempt to frame the next one around climate change or industrial relations is a risky move TONY 3. Tony Abbott has got to go TurnLeft2016 August 18, 2015 People say that they would prefer Abbott stay on as Prime Minister so they can see his face when he loses the next election. I say, think of all the damage Abbott can do between now and then. 4. Tony Abbott's Liberals lost in the fog Jennifer Hewett. Aug 17 2015 at 5:26 PM Depressed and dispirited are the most polite descriptions of the government mood...So far, the level of dissatisfaction is not back to any real counting of numbers, more like probing of sentiment amid the general gloom that has descended like a fog. The weariness is as palpable as the anger. No-one seems to know what to do other than wander around shell-shocked and hope something might turn up. 5. Tony Abbott's body language is telling Lea McInerney. August 18, 2015 - 12:19PM The Prime Minister's pugnacious behaviour stems from the habits of a lifetime. In interviews, he often hunches forward and tilts his head slightly, making it seem like he's about to pounce, or block, or duck from blows he might imagine are about to rain down on him. What does it feel like to be in a body like that? To be in Abbott's shoes? 6. 'Policy seems to have fallen off the table in Canberra': Macquarie Group chairman Kevin McCann Gareth Hutchens August 18, 2015 - 7:34AM The chairman of one of Australia's largest companies says the Abbott government appears to have forgotten about policy altogether, urging them to refocus their attention and come up with a narrative for reform the public can believe. 7. A script! My kingdom for a script. Here's one, PM. And here's some more... Tony Wright August 18, 2015 - 9:28PM The problem with a stage director demanding that everyone stay on script "or else" is that in this play, a script writer has been notably absent, and senior cast members have crafted their own personal scripts, each of which bears only passing resemblance to a central plot. 8. Leadership instability: Is recent history repeating for Tony Abbott? Norman Abjorensen Posted 17 minutes ago c 2.54pm Julia Gillard was abandoned by colleagues who bore her no animosity in 2013. Will the same happen to Tony Abbott as his backbench becomes increasingly nervous? 9. Abbott’s Position Unsustainable. John Kelly To the keen political observer, Leadership speculation about Tony Abbott first began in social media memes literally from the day the Coalition formed government in 2013 and quickly spread to a number of respected political blog sites. It has now become a full blown mainstream media circus 10. Tony's circus maximus Kaye Lee August 18, 2015 Let the police prosecute the criminals and stop wasting money on Tony’s circus maximus. 11. A ‘People’s vote’ on marriage equality: Abbott’s latest Truthiness phrase? Kate M August 18, 2015 According to our Prime Minister, he is champion of the people’s will when it comes to marriage equality – offering a ‘people’s vote’ over a ‘politician’s vote’ dictated by what he calls ‘stalinist rules.’ 12. Marriage equality should not be put to a popular vote Sarah Gill. August 17, 2015 Public sentiment is not always a good guide to what is right, or just, or even acceptable. 13. Where the people go, the leaders will follow Jeff Sparrow 18th August 2015 There are many good reasons to oppose Tony Abbott’s plans for marriage reform but a fear of ordinary people is not one of them...The inability of parliament to deliver a modest and overwhelmingly popular reform demonstrates the utter paralysis of the political class, something that’s becoming a defining feature of our age. 14. Senate Blocks Abbott Government Building Watchdog Thom Mitchell 17 Aug 2015 The Abbott Government's attempts to install a new 'tough cop on the building industry beat' have failed because it is widely seen as fundamentally unjust 15. Tony Abbott's Drug Problem: Too Much Time At The Cool-Aid Container Mathew Kenneally. 17 Aug 2015 Everything in moderation, including ideology. Unless you're a Liberal Party minister. DYSON 16. Royal commissioner Dyson Heydon's most difficult judgment yet Simon Longstaff August 17, 2015 Dyson Heydon should either step down as head of the trade union corruption inquiry, or argue the case to stay. Either way, Abbott owes him an apology. 17. Apprehended bias: Do the unions have a good case against Dyson Heydon? Anna Olijnyk 18 August, 2015 c 2.00pm On the face of things, that Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon was prepared to accept an engagement to speak at a Liberal Party function certainly looks bad. But a fair-minded lay observer would have to look closer 18. Explainer: Dyson Heydon and claims of ‘apprehended bias’ Anna Olijnyk. August 18, 2015 9.11am AEST Judges and other officials – such as tribunal members and royal commissioners – must not only be impartial, they must also appear to be impartial. 19. Dyson Heydon was on panel that awarded Tony Abbott his prized Rhodes Scholarship Heath Aston.. August 17, 2015 Dyson Heydon, the royal commissioner under mounting pressure to quit over his links to the Liberal Party, was on a panel that awarded a young Tony Abbott a life-changing scholarship to Oxford University. 20. Heydon's email trail for Barwick dinner made its Liberal connections clear from the start Michelle Grattan, August 17, 2015 9.55pm AEST In the jargon of the moment, Dyson Heydon – the royal commissioner who has been putting trade union officials and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on the spot – finds himself struggling with the sniff test. GEORGE 21. Environment Minister Bungles Big Coal Approval, So Attorney General Tries To Change The Law Thom Mitchell. 18 Aug 2015 Environment Minister Greg Hunt bungled the approval of Australia's largest ever coal mine, and then lost a court challenge. So, naturally, they're shifting the goal posts. 22. Lawyers Demand Brandis Revoke 'Vigilante Litigation' Slur After Federal Court Loss Thom Mitchell. 17 Aug 2015 Green groups have turned the Attorney-General's remarks on him, saying the comments show the influence the mining industry has over the government. 23. George Brandis urged to respect rule of law by former Liberal attorney general Daniel Hurst A former Liberal party attorney general has written to the federal incumbent, George Brandis, reminding him of the critical importance of the rule of law and the separation of powers in a democratic society. 24. George Brandis: vigilante green groups destroying thousands of mining jobs Shalailah Medhora & Joshua Robertson. 17 August 2015 17.19 Attorney general says green groups used ‘lawfare’ to scupper Carmichael coalmine as he urges reform of national environmental protection laws. George Brandis has reacted angrily to the federal court’s overturning of the government’s approval of the Carmichael coalmine in Queensland. 25. The government vs the environment: lawfare in Australia Cristy Clark August 18, 2015 4.23pm AEST A key feature of authoritarianism is that the government is above the law – it is not accountable to the people for its actions. In contrast, under a democratic system, the rule of law means that the government is constrained by law and can be held accountable by the people. 26. Australia is lagging behind the world's best on judicial appointments reform Andrew Lynch. August 13, 2015 11.06am AEST Australia’s method of appointing judges to its highest courts is opaque and informal. MALCOLM 27. The stage is set for a Turnbull challenge Michael Taylor Malcolm Turnbull will only get one likely chance to be Prime Minister, and that chance could be offered to him… 28. 'Likeable rascal': Malcolm Turnbull's Oxford report cards uncovered from the archives Heath Aston. August 18, 2015 - 3:07PM "He has begun to find his level and to stretch his ability. This has dented his arrogance usefully, but I expect it will bounce back," wrote the warden of Rhodes House, Sir Edgar Williams. "He has the manner of a likeable rascal but I hope that there is more to him than that JOE 29. The many problems with Hockey's bank deposit tax Andrew Schmulow 17 Aug, 4:35 PM The federal government has given itself until the end of the year to respond to the many recommendations contained within last year’s Financial System Inquiry report, but in one area it has already decided to act against the chair David Murray’s advice... From January 1, 2016 the government will levy a bank deposit tax... The small banks, credit unions and friendly societies would be exempt. 30. Razor gang brawl on disability scheme Laura Tingle. Aug 17 2015 at 5:39 PM Divisions have emerged within federal cabinet's powerful expenditure review committee about the national disability insurance scheme amid a renewed push to try to slow down its rollout, only weeks before Canberra is due to sign deals with the states on the multi-billion dollar scheme. NEW POLITICS + OLD INSIGHTS 31. Jeremy Corbyn, And The Terrifying Prospect Of Policies The Punters Actually Like Jeff Sparrow 18 Aug 2015 British politicians are increasingly panicked by an MP who is changing the game by acting in the public interest. 32. Why we should still be reading Democracy in America John Keane July 3, 2015 10.57pm AEST Alexis de Tocqueville’s four-volume Democracy in America (1835–1840) is commonly said to be among the greatest works of 19th-century political writing.... Some observers cautiously mine the text for its fresh insights on such perennial themes as liberty of the press, the tyranny of the majority and civil society; or they focus on such topics as why it is that modern democracies are vulnerable to “commercial panics” and why they simultaneously value equality, reduce the threat of revolution and grow complacent. NEW MEDIA PLAYER 33. Huffington Post is coming – but will Australians care? Axel Bruns August 18, 2015 6.27am AEST The past few years have been positively revolutionary for the Australian news landscape. From a static and highly concentrated media market, dominated by News Corporation, Fairfax, and the ABC, new players have gradually entered the market, and the next new entry lumbering up to the starting blocks is the Australian version of The Huffington Post. 34. Huffington Post success will rely on fresh voices Alexandra Wake, August 18, 2015 12.24pm AEST In other markets the Huffington Post doesn't just rely on the usual suspects to write, and it's this that will make or break it in Australia... The global takeover isn’t a bad effort from the team behind editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington who only established the online site in 2005 as an alternative left wing (Americans would say “liberal”) outlet and alternative to news aggregators.


19/08/2015HuffPost Australia - A Sampler: 1. HuffPost Down Under: Introducing HuffPost Australia Arianna Huffington. 18/08/2015 10:59 AEST I'm excited to announce the launch of The Huffington Post's newest international edition, HuffPost Australia. This marks the 15th edition in our growing global network, and brings HuffPost's trademark approach to news, opinion, entertainment and community to yet another continent. It also means we're now present on six of the seven continents (stay tuned for HuffPost Antarctica!). 2. Numbers Only Tell Part Of Our National Workforce Story Tory Maguire Editor-in-Chief, HuffPost Australia We know women and older Australians are the two fastest-growing groups in the workforce. And at the same time the future economy wants us to have more babies now, the government doesn't want to pay for maternity leave. Securing a spot in a decent childcare centre is like finding the golden goose. 3. What They Meant By 'Having It All' Lisa Wilkinson Editor-at-large, HuffPost Australia, and host of Today It's a term I've always loathed, and one that's dogged just about every working mother I know, for decades. The stunningly naïve belief that once we women had The Vote, The Pill, No-Fault Divorce and Equal Pay, that we could now go about the business of having The Job, The Marriage, The Kids, The Home we wanted, and -- some sanity. 4. What People Think It's Like In Australia Vs. Reality Aimie Rigas 19.08.2015 The whole world basically thinks we dodge snakes whenever we leave the house -- even in the city (we don’t) and that it never gets cold... 5. This Guy's Rad Tattoos And Charitable Spirit Just Helped Raise $100,000 For Children's Health Cameron Keady Tony Moroney’s heart may be the only place he doesn’t have a tattoo, but its positive impact is just as permanent. The 50-year-old Australian, who is almost entirely covered in tattoos, has raised $100,000 for a children’s health charity, Yahoo7 reported. Moroney, who goes by the nickname “Top Hat Tony,” used his eccentric appearance to help attract enough donors to reach his goal earlier this month. 6. 2015: A Mental Health Odyssey Michael Carr-Gregg Perhaps if the disgruntled, insecure and ultimately homicidal HAL 9000 had access to some of today's mental health apps, astronaut Bowman would still be alive and the voyage to Jupiter might have been completed. 7. 'Will You Civil Union Me?' Ewen Jones Federal Member for Herbert If a Bill comes before this Parliament and gets to a vote, I will cross the floor so long as religious organisations are protected if they choose to say a polite "no thank you". Respect is the key for all here. 8. Leaving Australians Stranded On Roads To Nowhere Anthony Albanese Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Cities Unless we take steps now to reduce traffic congestion by investing in roads and urban rail, the problem will assume such monstrous proportions that it will act as a handbrake on national economic productivity. If that is not core business for the Commonwealth, I don't know what is. 9. Tony Abbott Leadership Rumours: Frydenberg Says ‘We Can Turn The Ship Around' Karen Barlow The Financial Review is reporting that Liberal “foot soldiers” are sounding out MPs over the leadership, in the wake of continuing poor polls, the Dyson Heydon controversy and confusion over the way forward on same sex marriage. 10. Bill Shorten Exclusive: 'Why I Deserve To Be Prime Minister.' (plus video 14.28) Karen Barlow 19.08.2015 Opposition leader, Bill Shorten says the issue of climate change will ultimately be the Prime Minister's undoing, describing the Abbott Government as a "right-wing experiment" gone wrong.


19/08/2015Another day - another leak from the ship of state. What's the saying, if you can't govern yourselves - you can't govern the country.

Ad Astra

19/08/2015Casablanca What a fantastic collection, which I've just finished reading. The advent of HuffPost Australia is exciting. Its first issue has more meat in it than the pay-walled Murdoch stable, perhaps not surprisingly. It's another nail in the MSM coffin.


20/08/2015LEADERSHIP RUMBLINGS 1. The voters of Canning could have quite a say on Tony Abbott’s leadership Michelle Grattan. August 18, 2015 10.38pm AEST The mood of Canning could help determine whether Abbott’s colleagues have a “come to Jesus moment” – defined by the Prime Minister’s Office in June as a moment of collective clarity – in their view about their futures and his. 2. A well-functioning cabinet – who are they kidding? Michelle Grattan. August 19, 2015 When Kevin Rudd came under attack from some of his ministers for the way he ran his cabinet, it turned out to be the beginning of the end. Now we are seeing Tony Abbott struggling to contain instability in an openly divided team...Once a cabinet starts to fragment, it is very hard to glue it together again. 3. Leaked talking points tell ministers to say 'our cabinet is functioning exceptionally well' James Massola August 19, 2015 - 12:40PM Tony Abbott's ministers have been told to say that "our cabinet is functioning exceptionally well," according to the daily talking points sent to ministerial advisers on Wednesday, which have been leaked to Fairfax Media. 4. Behind Tony Abbott's 'jobs, jobs, jobs' mantra (05:13) Peter Hartcher What is driving the Prime Minister's jobs rhetoric - policy or politics? 5. Getting Tony Abbott’s attention Sean Kelly I know that many people on the left tend not to read “right-wing” columnists, and that many people on the right do the converse (except, in both cases, for “hate reading”). In politics that means you can miss important trends.....The fact that columnists Abbott would probably count (rightly or wrongly) as his ideological comrades are delivering frank and unflattering assessments of his performance is significant. DYSON HAYDON 6. Dyson Heydon ‘Unaware’ Royal Commission Was A Liberal Party Fundraiser The Shovel August 19, 2015 The head of the Royal Commission into trade unions, Dyson Heydon, says he initially did not realise the Commission was a Liberal Party event. “When I first agreed to head up the hearing, I thought it was just a regular Royal Commission. I didn’t see the Liberal Party logo at the bottom of the flyer,” Mr Heydon said today. 7. A man of integrity? Dyson Heydon and his Trade Union Royal Commission Peter Wicks 19 August 2015, 1:30pm The revelations about Dyson Heydon's links to the Liberal Party are just the latest in a long list of questionable activities by a very questionable Royal Commission.,8073 8. Royal commission no longer a weapon for Abbott Mungo MacCallum Tony Abbott was relying on the trade union royal commission as another weapon to belt Shorten in the coming election; now he has lost that battle before it has properly started THE ABBOTT GOVERNMENT HAS A DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIP WITH THE TRUTH AND THE FUTURE 9. Question Time fact check Kaye Lee. August 19, 2015 In case anyone is unsure about the Coalition’s message, they are about “jobs, growth, and community safety…jobs, growth and community safety.”... But every time they try to elaborate, we are subjected to a load of “trust me” that bears very little resemblance to truth. 10. Damned Lies, Minister Hunt and Climate Models Clive Hamilton. August 18, 2015 10.14am AEST If you believe what you read in the Daily Telegraph saving the planet must mean trashing the economy. That’s their story and they’re sticking to it, no matter what the evidence shows. If the numbers show the opposite, well, they have ways. 11. Adani mine a $20b project creating 10,000 jobs? The Abbott government's myths busted Lisa Cox. August 19, 2015 - 5:41PM When it comes to Australia's largest coal mine, the Abbott government has a difficult relationship with the truth. If you haven't heard, Australia is under siege from a new kind of eco-warrior, one with a manual and money for legal challenges designed to endlessly frustrate economic development. 12. Fact check: Does Australia have one of the 'highest loss of species anywhere in the world'? The verdict: When comparing places on the Red List, Australia is in the top five for extinction of animal and plant species, and the top 10 for endangered and threatened species. Even more species are listed as extinct on the Australian EPBC Act list than on the Red List, and experts agree Australia is experiencing high rates of species loss. Senator Di Natale's claim that Australia has "one of the highest loss of species anywhere in the world" is correct. 13. Fact Check: Have electricity prices dropped $550 since the carbon tax was abolished? Verdict: The ACCC's most recent estimates for annual savings on electricity bills - which are based on the actual savings passed on by companies to consumers - range between $100 and $200 depending on which state or territory the household is located. Mr Hockey's claim is wrong. 14. Fact check: Is Australia the sunniest continent on Earth? 11 Aug 2015, 2:18pm Verdict: The Australian Labor Party has called for a massive increase in renewable energy by 2030. Experts told Fact Check there was broad agreement when all factors were considered that the Australian continent has the most solar coverage. Mr Shorten's claim checks out. 15. Fact check: Does the China Free Trade Agreement threaten Australian jobs? 13 Aug 2015, 1:09pm Verdict: Experts contacted by Fact Check say the China free trade agreement allows the Immigration Department to decide that jobs should be offered to local workers before it issues visas to overseas workers, but it does not require this to happen. The ACTU's claim checks out. 16. Australia should brace for China's 'new normal' Greg Jericho As its economy transitions to a "new normal", the hope is China achieves slower but safer and more stable growth. This will have a big impact on Australia “VIGILANTE LITIGATION” 17. Abbott government bid to crack down on green group legal appeals facing likely defeat in Senate Lisa Cox. August 19, 2015 - 5:49PM It was supposed to be the great reset for the Abbott government to steer its political narrative back to jobs and growth. But a plan to change environment laws to stop green groups mounting legal challenges to big developments looks doomed in the Senate. 18. Truth Hurts: The Science Behind Why People Don't Care About The Death Of Our Planet And Democracy Lissa Johnson. 19 Aug 2015 Activists and environmentalists take to make people give a damn. 19. Green Court Ban: George Brandis Picks Another Fight His Government Won't Win Thom Mitchell. 19 Aug 2015 If you’re on a hiding to nothing, why not double down and start another brawl. Welcome to another day in the life of the Abbott Government. 20. Judging The Judges Is A Judgement Call! Rossleigh. August 19, 2015 It was appalling that the judge chose to uphold the law, because around here, certain Liberals adopt the Wild West philosophy of “We are the law round here, and what we say goes” and if it doesn’t well it’s the law that’s wrong. Apparently, the bar has been set too low resulting in what our Eminent Attorney-General referred to as “vigilante litigation”. NEW POLITICS + OLD INSIGHTS 21. Jeremy Corbyn, And The Terrifying Prospect Of Policies The Punters Actually Like Jeff Sparrow 18 Aug 2015 British politicians are increasingly panicked by an MP who is changing the game by acting in the public interest. 22. There may be some alternatives: Why are Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders so popular? Christian McCrea. 19th August 2015 ...if all we take away from what’s happening today in Greece, in Spain, from the stadium-filling crowds following Sanders and the supposedly centrist UK Labour party dematerialising before our eyes, is still that “there is no alternative”, then we will continue to be surprised when the alternatives arrive. 23. Jeremy Corbyn is the curator of the future. His rivals are chasing an impossible dream George Monbiot. 19 August 2015 04.29 AEST Those who believe that New Labour’s clapped-out politics can transform the party’s fortunes are delusional 24. Labor need to stand for more than just climate change Roswell August 17, 2015 Maybe, to a point, the next election will be a choice between real action on climate change vs none, but I don’t agree that it’s the only issue as they so suggest. Perhaps they need to read my earlier post and start getting real vocal in their support for things like..... RACISM + PREJUDICE + RELIGION + SOCIETY 25. Moral Bankruptcy and Civil Liberties in Modern Australian… Daniel Ellery. August 19, 2015 The Abbott Government’s gradual destruction of our civil liberties is not something we should be taking lightly. 26. Citizenship Caned: Experts Line Up To Give Tony Abbott's Citizen Stripping Laws A Belting Max Chalmers. 19 Aug 2015 The expert reaction to Tony Abbott’s plan to have some Australians lose their citizenship makes brutal reading for the government. 27. Ignorance, cruelty, racism and bigotry in Australia Natalie Cromb 18 August 2015, 6:30pm Australia is not the land of the fair go, it is a nation where cruelty, ignorance, discrimination is not only common place but rewarded, respected and justified.,8068 28. It's Time To Make The Politicians Wear Their Religion On Their Sleeve Brian Morris. 17 Aug 2015 And possibly declare it in their parliamentary interests register. Brian Morris weighs into the murky worlds of politics and religion. 29. The New Inquisition: Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been A Muslim? Michael Brull. 19 Aug 2015 Brull takes aim at 'new atheists' and a call in NM for politicians to publicly declare their religious beliefs. 30. How to correctly engage with Catholicism and Islam in public commentary Denis Dragovic, University of Melbourne When public policy is being shaped, it is incumbent upon public figures to be better versed in discussions surrounding religion. 31. The silenced majority Vanessa Kairies. August 13, 2015 You wouldn’t want to be gay, transgender, bi-sexual, a refugee, a Muslim, a first Australian, homeless, unemployed, sick, facing retirement, in aged care or a young person looking at going to university. Tony thinks they’re easy targets. 32. Use of Force Bill – first secrecy, now the power to use deadly force Kate M August 19, 2015 Having put up a shroud of secrecy around detention centres, there is now a Bill in the senate which, if passed, will allow the use of deadly force by guards in those detention centres. The bill is called the Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015 – nicknamed the ‘Use of Force’ Bill. Despite the fact that Human Rights bodies have huge concerns about this Bill, it has received very little press. Here’s why you should be concerned about this.


21/08/2015ADULT GOVERNMENT? 1. Tony Abbott: Boy or man - or maybe just wired differently David Leser. August 20, 2015 - 11:39AM In boy psychology, young males refuse to take responsibility for their actions and have a propensity to blame others. (It's the parliamentary entitlement system, not Bronwyn Bishop.)...We have a boy running the country and he's scaring the pants off everyone. ENVIRONMENT + THE ECONOMY + SCAPEGOATING 2. Lawyer up! Greenies are here to vigilante your coal mine into oblivion! First Dog on the Moon. 19 August 2015 15.04 AEST A hemp-flavoured coalition of lawyers, environmental activists, baristas and seabirds has successfully seen off Adani’s humongous coal mine on a minor technicality called ‘the law’ 3. Environmental Activists Accused Of Forcing Mining Companies To Obey The Law The Backburner. 19 Aug 2015 - 11:17 AM The Government has revealed plans to alter the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act as a means to deal with a spate of radical environmental activists using their influence to unjustly force major mining operations to obey the law. 4. Economists' concerns with emissions reduction target not what you'd expect Ross Gittins. August 18, 2015 Tony Abbott says he will never put the environment ahead of the economy, but it is impossible to segregate the two.... That's why few would have approved of Abbott's decision to abandon Julia Gillard's hybrid carbon tax/emissions trading scheme and replace it with "direct action" payments from the budget... the economy is a "wholly owned subsidiary of the environment". 5. The Price Isn't Right: Shock Jock Gets It Wrong In Fiery Clash With Waleed Aly Over Big Coal Thom Mitchell. 20 Aug 2015 The Environment Minister's failure to do his job has embarrassed not only Greg Hunt, but also his Chief of Staff's husband, Steve Price, who fronted The Project with underwhelming results. Right wing shock jock Steve Price was always going to have an on-air conniption when he took up the government’s charge to reframe the national conversation away from its many weeping sores and onto green “lawfare”. 6. Adani poised to submit third plan for dredging in Great Barrier Reef Joshua Robertson. 20 August 2015 06.00 AEST Queensland mining minister set to announce Abbot Point environmental impact statement complete, putting Adani closer to submitting plan to Greg Hunt 7. Brandis' changes to environmental laws will defang the watchdogs Samantha Hepburn. August 19, 2015 12.29pm AEST He is seeking to repeal section 487 of the EPBC Act, arguing that it “provides a red carpet for radical activists wanting to use aggressive litigation tactics to disrupt and sabotage important projects”. 8. 'Vigilante litigants' didn't stop the Carmichael mine, the law did Michael Bradley It's extraordinary to watch our chief law officer, George Brandis, attack "vigilante litigants" for taking action against the Carmichael Mine. They didn't write the law, they just asked that it be enforced 9. Having advised three prime ministers, what would this climate scientist say to Abbott? Graham Readfearn 20 August 2015, 8:00am Dr Graeme Pearman was a contributor to a new book that sheds light on how Australian went from being a world leader in climate science (under Hawke) to one where vested interests and ideology now control the levers of power (Abbott).,8072 10. New calculation suggests China’s greenhouse emissions have been overestimated Eliza Berlage. August 20, 2015 6.23am AEST New estimates show that for more than a decade China’s greenhouse gas emissions have been overestimated by international agencies, while the country’s energy consumption has been underestimated. INEQUALITY + ECONOMIC GROWTH 11. Is there a trade-off between equality and efficiency? Michael Keating. 18/08/2015 A critical policy issue has always been whether greater equality inevitably comes at a cost to the economic growth. For example, historically economists have typically believed that there is a trade-off between increased equality and efficiency. THE TONY GOVERNMENT 12. Same-sex marriage plebiscite: Tony Abbott's three-act play John Warhurst August 19, 2015 - 11:45PM The Prime Minister must rely on the Cabinet and the back bench hanging together on the same-sex marriage issue until the next election. Already there has been considerable disquiet within Cabinet ranks emanating mainly from those who supported a conscience vote. 13. Abbott needs Productivity Commission's 'unusable' advice Alan Mitchell. Aug 18 2015 at 2:37 PM If the Productivity Commission simply disagrees with its critics on workplace relations reform, that's one thing. If it is tailoring its analysis to give the government "practical" advice, that raises an important additional set of issues. THE TONY COMMISSION 14. Backed into a corner, Dyson Heydon's options are finite Graham Hryce August 19, 2015 Legal resolution of claims of bias is unlikely to resolve the political controversy or restore the integrity of the royal commission.... Owen Dixon, former chief justice of the High Court and Australia's most esteemed jurist, was strongly of the view that judges should not accept appointments as royal commissioners. Heydon's dilemma, whatever the outcome, confirms the wisdom of that view. 15. Dyson's Choice Bob Ellis 20 August 2015, 11:30am Abbott's Captain's Picks like Bronwyn Bishop and Dyson Heydon have earned him the title of Captain Chaos. An 8-10 per cent swing at the Canning by-election will usher in the end of the Abbott experiment which historians will refer to as "Amateur Hour".,8077 16. Dyson Heydon will continue to lead royal commission, Josh Frydenberg says Shalailah Medhora. 20 August 2015 10.17 AEST Heydon is due to rule on Friday whether he will stand down from the trade union royal commission over his booking to speak at a Liberal party event 17. Liberal Party misuse of Royal Commissions John Menadue 'With the Abbott Government there is a pattern of using Royal Commissions to attack former and current ALP leaders. What we really need is a Royal Commission into billions of dollars of tax avoidance by major companies operating in Australia. They are avoiding proper scrutiny.’ NEW POLITICS + OLD INSIGHTS + POLITICAL ROT 18. Social democracy fights for its soul across the West Shaun Crowe 19 August, 2015. 5:13pm Left-wing candidates Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders in the US are enjoying a surge of support and presenting a challenge to the pragmatic centrists in their parties... Corbyn's popularity hints at some of the deep problems facing social democratic parties across the developed world....If Corbyn teaches Labour anything, hopefully it's this. Pragmatism is important, a necessary ingredient in democratic politics. But it's not everything. Without a bit of dreaming, it withers up and dies. 19. Entitlements scandal is a sign of political rot Mark Triffitt and Travers Mcleod 14/08/2015 When does a political system become corrupt? 'When is the line crossed from garden variety rorting by a few members of parliament to institutionalised abuse of taxpayers’ money by the system?... So how do we run a ruler over recent transgressions to see if they represent a superficial problem, or something more deeply embedded? Fortunately we have guidelines in the form of an article by American philosopher Amelie Rorty on how and why corruption begins and spreads. 20. Lessons that can be learnt from dockworkers who helped bring apartheid to its knees Peter Cole. August 18, 2015 2.41pm AEST Today’s complex global economy has brought new forms of worker exploitation. And globalisation has made workers ever-more precarious....Overwhelmed by the injustices they face, many workers feel helpless and apathetic. But the Anti-Apartheid Movement reminds us that ordinary people can make a difference in the fight for workers’ rights – even halfway across the planet. 21. How to reinvigorate democracy (audio) Jonathan Green 16 August 2015 9:05AM Are plebiscites a ducking of parliamentary responsibility or a chance to broaden participatory democracy? 22. Directors Overboard Karen Middleton The Abbott government’s policy of ditching all Labor appointees to government boards ran into trouble when leading businessman Kerry Stokes’s term at the Australian War Memorial came to an end. IP + INNOVATION 23. Hockey’s IP inquiry another opportunity likely to be missed Bruce Baer Arnold. August 20, 2015 6.23am AEST Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey has asked the Productivity Commission to undertake a wide-ranging review of Australia’s intellectual property regime. The review is an opportunity for an increasingly distracted government to set its stamp on the Australian economy for the next 20 years. It is an opportunity that will almost certainly be missed. 24. Whose brains are draining? The Data Team. Jul 1st 2015, 12:08 POOR countries often complain that their best minds are draining away—and for the most part they are right. The poorer the country, the larger the proportion of inventors who push off. Between 2007 and 2012, for example, 86% of Vietnam-born people who filed for patents did so while working outside Vietnam. By contrast, only 8% of Norwegian-born inventors were living outside Norway when they applied for patents. We know this because of the remarkably detailed records kept by the World Intellectual Property Organisation.


23/08/2015Greetings Staunch Comrades of the Sword I haven't written anything here all week I feel like a slack schoolboy who hasn't done his homework I've spent my time playing on Twitter instead Well not really playing though. I am deadly serious about the defeat of this dreadful Government, and I flatter myself that I am well out on the ginger edge of the commentators there. Well I flatter the Turkey anyway. He takes the flak. Today I have some confirmation that he pecked ol' Death-Stare in the eye! Yesterday as is my wont I wrote a nasty little rhyme about the LNP & posted it on Twitter. Today I received a retweet from David Marler. You'll see my little rhyme there, under attack from the Asbestos Queen Herself! David Marler ‏@Qldaah · 2h2 hours ago @TalkyTurkey, you made the news … Anyway so I replied Proud that my little rhyme about 1 Liberal super-rorter & 1 Liberal supporter of criminal war crime found a mark! And I also found some choice words to say to Bishop the Lesser: Asbestos Bishop: "Appalling" Hastie retweets? I'll tell you what's appalling : MUTILATION OF ENEMY CADAVERS! Anyway I'll leave it there. At the moment I'm being talked to by Jason Hand, if I dare mention his surname after Hastie's APPALLING war-crime.
How many Rabbits do I have if I have 3 Oranges?