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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

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June 18, 2010

What is wrong with the Rudd Government? On the one hand, we have the passage of paid parental leave legislation that provides a mandatory paid leave for new parents (18 weeks of leave paid at the national minimum wage) for the first time. On the other hand, we have the removal of the National Funding Authority for health.


Remember how the $50 billion health and hospitals package was sold as an example of co-operative federalism, the biggest reform since Medicare, and an example of how Rudd Labor could solve the nation's health crisis? This reform package is now being undercut with the dismantling of the National Funding Authority, which was to oversee the distribution of Commonwealth health funding to the states.

Plans for the National Funding Authority were agreed to by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and also by premiers at the Council of Australian Governments summit on health reforms in April.The authority had been proposed to ensure health funding transparency between the Commonwealth and the states.If it has been dropped because it is not needed, then the health funding arrangements were not thought through.

Do I detect the hand of the NSW Right (Karl Bitar and Mark Arbib) here? One strong on (focus group) politics and weak on policy? Where is the strategy in health reform? What has happened to the challenge to the special interests of state governments and their health bureaucracies? There is little chance of establish a permanent, independent, professional and community-based statutory authority, an Australian health commission, similar to the Reserve Bank in the monetary field.

We know that after the collapse of the Copenhagen climate change talks and the decision of the Coalition to withdraw its support for the government's ETS, the Greens proposed adopting an interim arrangement - proposed by the government's own climate change advisor Ross Garnaut - which would have imposed a relatively small carbon tax until a more substantial price mechanism for carbon emissions could be agreed.The government however refused to discuss the proposal with the Greens.

What next in the roll back of reform?

We have the "education revolution" but it isn't going that far to address the negative effects of the inequality caused by globalization. Over the last 20 years that inequality has a consistent geographical spread in Adelaide and it is inter-generational.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:25 PM | | Comments (13)


Will the mandatory internet censorship policy join the government's list of "politically toxic subjects" and be shelved until after the federal election?

Dunno. Maybe.

Conroy and Attorney-General Robert McLelland are into digital snooping in a big way. They are proposing to introduce legislation that could see ISPs forced to record the source username, assigned IP address, Internet service used, duration, and more information of everything you do online. They would also, if the European model is followed, be required to register the contact details of anybody you email or call – even over VoIP services – including the recipient’s address.

The rationale for this data retention regime is to track criminals terrorists and paedophiles online, but I'm sure it is broader than that--- eg., help support the copyright-infringement claims of Hollywood and the Music companies?

Senator Fielding was not impressed with the paid parental leave legislation His response:

Under this bill drug addicts and welfare cheats can rort the system and get paid parental leave money for nothing. Drug addicts and welfare cheats can get pregnant, then after 20 weeks have an abortion and still pocket the government’s cash... here may be mums out there who want to cheat the system in a horrific way

I would have thought that this paid parental leave legislation was very family friendly. Obviously Senator Fielding is not.

They aren't proposing anything. Some public servants examined the European model of cybercrime response, which involves ISPs recording that stuff, but all they're doing is looking to 'see if it is appropriate in an Australian context'.

This is normal. The government develops policy by examining how it works in other places. We're not used to it because Howard never did anything.

yes the Attorney-General's Department has confirmed it had been examining the European Directive on Data Retention to consider whether it would be beneficial for Australia to adopt a similar regime.

However, they are planning an Australian version of the directive. First, the media liaison officer for the Attorney-General Robert McLelland, one Adam Siddique, has said that it "is not about web browser history it's purely about being able to identify and verify identities online".

Secondly, a number of ISP 's have confirmed they were consulted about the data retention proposal.

Those who have been consulted are not saying too much about the proposal---ie., whether the discussions had included the specific idea of maintaining data on every email sent in Australia, every phone call or every web address visited.

Paid leave makes a headline and sticks in peoples minds.The National Funding Authority isnt a vote winner.

Health reform could turn out to be more ambulances.

Yeah Steve Fielding played the abortion card when he claimed that the paid parental leave scheme might "entice" women to "cheat the system in a horrific way" by deliberately getting pregnant so they could undergo a late-term abortion.

He forgot to acknowledge that to be eligible for the scheme these "drug addicts and welfare cheats" need to engage in paid employment for 10 of the previous 13 months to get the 18 weeks of taxable income paid at the minimum wage. So he used the paid parental leave debate to agitate over abortion to increase his media profile.

Fielding also worked the old attempts by the Coalition to create an ideological divide between stay-at-home mothers who vote conservative and working mothers who vote progressive. He says that the paid parental leave scheme:

is a policy that gives money to prisoners and prostitutes but ignores stay-at-home mums and the important unpaid work that they do. Mums who stay at home and look after their kids will be about $2000 worse off because of the decision than those mums who rush back to the workforce.

Family values does not include working families for Fielding.

The good news is that Fielding is not likely to be re-elected to the Senate despite demonizing drug addicts, welfare cheats, prisoners and prostitutes to appeal to the Christian conservatives at odds with the contemporary world. The ALP would not dare to direct their preferences to him again.

Senator Fielding is the clown of the Senate desperately trying to seek the limelight. He is a sad joke. Goodbye.

re your comment: 'Paid leave makes a headline and sticks in peoples minds.The National Funding Authority isnt a vote winner."

True. However, dumping the National Funding Authority---because of resistance by the states ( ie., NSW + Victoria)---- has undermined the idea of having a single, national government funder (for health and hospitals) and having more integrated care across acute, aged and primary care.

The integrated care bit is important. Rudd Government isn't doing all that much for mental healthcare, and there are a lot of people suffering from mental illnesses. Prof McGorry has said that half of all Australians would suffer a mental illness in their lifetime, but two-thirds of them would not get treatment.Health reform does not appear to include mental health.

By default we are heading along the path of the US model, where the emergency room is the centre of the service system not primary care. The response to those with even the most severe disorders will be to "treat 'em and street 'em".

It seems at this point we have stalled in all areas of reform and are in the limbo stage between the time when the next government(which still may be this one) says they were elected with a mandate to do their particular things.
This government lacks the ability to be peceived as being able to get things done.
So I see your vision of health reform Carput! which is a shame. Unfortunately people with mental illness arent bleeding,hobbling or in need of urgent operations so they are way down the bottom of the list with a handful of pills to stop them from injuring themselves and others. A bandaid solution.

At present the media really is dictating as we have just seen with this Gillard thing so who knows where we go from here with all issues.

re your comment
"we have stalled in all areas of reform...This government lacks the ability to be peceived as being able to get things done."

Not quite. There is some momentum. The deal with Telstra surrending ownership of its fiixed line telecommunications network with retail dominance for $11 billion continues the reform agenda in telecommunications.

The deal means that the government will now spruik its reform credentials on the delivery of high-speed broadband, backed by a TV advertising blitz until the election.

Rudd's style of over-promising continues. He's saying that the "two big areas of future health reform" were mental health and aged care. Fine, but the Rudd Government has consistently shown a lack of commitment to mentally ill people through its actions so far.

Why this is so is unclear. Lack of money? Rebadging the Howard initiatives?

good article on mental health in the Age by Barbara Hocking:

Good mental health services will not come about if bureaucrats continue to narrow-mindedly view ''hospitals'' and ''beds'' as the principal components of mental healthcare, because this may be more administratively convenient. Good mental health services will not come about without the political will to go beyond rhetoric, and go the hard yards of actually implementing change. Good mental health services will not come about without simplifying the current ''spaghetti junction'' of state and federal programs, which people living with a mental illness are expected to negotiate.

The Rudd government has promised more will be done in 2011. But the same was promised in 2010, 2009 and 2008, and very little happened.