Showing posts with label funding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label funding. Show all posts

Monday, 3 July 2017

Is the Liberal Party of Australia taking a leaf out of Steve Bannon's playbook

This was a ‘news’ banner on the Liberal Party of Australia’s The Fair Go website on 27 June 2016:
The short eight sentence long spiel behind the login wall began with:

Where does Getup get its money from and what is the real agenda behind the bluster?

From Open Society to Podesta to The Sunrise Project, Avaaz to GetUp in Australia! There’s certainly been a lot of US money a-flowing toward Aussie Leftists groups. So, who is giving who how much and where is it all going?

And ended with this image:

However it did not disclose any “secret money trails” and appeared to base its claims in part on 'fake news' produced during the 2016 US presidential election and the political donations disclosures GetUp! (Getup Limited est. 29 April 2005) regularly submits to the Australian Electoral Commission which can be found on the commission’s website as well as on a GetUp! web page.

According to the staff writers at The Fair Go the villain of the piece is George Soros – one of the people Donald Trump likes to hate – who is supposedly nefariously funding GetUp! through Avaaz.

Of course no mention is made of the fact that two co-founders and current board members of GetUp! were later also co-founders of Avaaz, so there is an existing and acknowledged relationship which has seen these two groups work together on climate change campaigns.

Instead this little gem made it off a staff writer’s keyboard and onto the website:

Getup alone spent $10m on pro-Union, pro-Green, anti-development, anti-jobs agenda last year. They have been getting some help from American organisation Avaaz with $275,000 in donations over the last two years.

But where does Avaaz get their funding from? Open Society Foundation of course! 

All roads lead back to George Soros.

Small problem with the maths though. The figure for the last two Third Party Return of Political Expenditure forms submitted by GetUp! show zero donations from Avaaz in 2015-16 and a single $99,985 donation in 2014-15. Even if one goes back to the 2013-14 form, that included donation would only bring the Avaaz donation total to $195,605 over the last three financial years declared to date.

It should come as no surprise to find that Avaaz also publishes its US expenditure declarations which means that there is even less to The Fair Go’s secrecy claims. Avaaz received a general support grant in 2008-09 from the Open Society Institute (OSI est. 1979) and since then does not appear to have accepted donations from “foundations or corporations”.

As for George Soros and the Open Society Foundations (formerly OSI) – well that registered philanthropic organisation operating world-wide produces annual budgets which show what programs it is involved with and where. Australia is not one of the countries in which it has a presence and, apart from attending at least one international conference which happen to be held in this country and including Australia in its “Case Watch” series and the occasional report, it does not appear to be active here.

The 2016 Open Society Foundations budget showed expected expenditure of US$544.6 million and the 2017 budget expenditure is expected to come in at US$940.7 million. This money goes to small and medium sized organisations such as those providing advocacy, legal aid, assistance to refugees, early childhood development and education and food security in the face of climate change programs, as well as to grass roots activism.

Who would you believe when it comes to “secret money trails”? A political party (with its own political donation probity issues) which couldn’t even come up with an original design for a website which appears to be using the Steve Bannon approach to facts and is aping one of Donald Trump’s pet conspiracy theories, or the publicly available political donation disclosures GetUp! has been submitting since 2006-07.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Self-published book by discredited political scientist costs Australian taxpayers $4,475 per page

Defunded by the Danish Government in 2012, rejected by the University of Western Australia and then Flinders University in 2015, discredited political scientist  Bjørn Lomborg went on to finally be rejected by the Abbott Government – but not before that federal government had handed Lomborg a cheque for $640,000 taken from the Dept of. Education budget.

Apparently unable to find a reputable publisher after 2010 Lomborg self-published this little 143-page tome with Australian taxpayer’s money – costing the nation $4,475 per page in a year where the budget deficit stood at $35.1 billion.

Published by Copenhagen Consensus Center USA, Inc.
Paperback Edition only – April 20, 2015, price $65.99   
New Paperback Edition – November 1, 2015, price $11.99

This is what Lomborg says of his book…..

Nobel Laureates Guide to Smarter Global Targets to 2030

Copenhagen Consensus Center has published 100+ peer-reviewed analyses from 82 of the world’s top economists and 44 sector experts along with many UN agencies and NGOs. These have established how effective 100+ targets would be in terms of value-for-money. These analyses take into account not just the economic, but also health, social and environmental benefits to the world.

An Expert Panel including two Nobel Laureates has reviewed this research and identified 19 targets that represent the best value-for-money in development over the period 2016 to 2030, offering social good worth more than $15 back on every dollar invested.

Reaching these global targets by 2030 will do more than $15 of good for every dollar spent.

In a Hurry and interested in the 19 most bang-for-the-buck post-2015 sustainable development targets? Download our project overview PDF here.

This is what the Senate thought……

The Australian, 21 October 2016:

Taxpayers contributed $640,000 to a book edited, written and published by Bjorn Lomborg and his Copenhagen Consensus Centre which was ridiculed in Senate Estimates on Thursday as “vanity publishing”.

The book, The Nobel Laureates Guide to the Smartest Targets in the World, also came under attack for receiving special purpose funding without having to undergo normal peer review processes of Australian researchers….

Bureaucrat Virginia Hart initially told Senator O’Neill the money had been used to support “extensive consultations through youth forums, media discussions, meeting with world leaders, including interactions with Australian dignitaries and officials, a number of papers that were commissioned from academics in areas that were relevant to the millennial development goals”.

But it was unclear which academics contributed to the book — none appear to be attributed — or what they produced. It is also unclear about the other activities under the funding…..

Senate Estimates also heard that the $640,000 was a contribution to the book with the rest coming from the CCC, but the Education Department did not know the total cost of the project.

Senator O’Neill also asked Senator Birmingham why the project received money under special purpose funding.

“The purpose was that the then Prime Minister and Mr Pyne had initiated a process that sought to establish an Australian Copenhagen Consensus Centre and bring its approach and methodology to Australia. Certain works were commenced while the discussions commenced as to how and where such a centre may be housed. In the end, the government made the decision not to proceed,” Senator Birmingham replied…..

While Senate Estimates was told the book was freely available on the internet, it appears it is only available for purchase. Amazon lists the book at $US11.99.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

A plea from the heart to save a Clarence Valley icon

Letter to the Editor, The Daily Examiner, 17 August 2016:

THE dismantling of the Grafton Regional Gallery is an outrage and every effort to reverse the decision of the executive council must be made.

Should it be a surprise? No.

In June 2015 the Council had to prepare an application to IPART for a special rate variation to increase rates by 8%. The community was called upon to prioritise 24 listed services put forward by the Council.

In a letter to the Editor of the DEX, I drew attention to how significant infrastructure like the Grafton Regional Gallery and the Library have been built with Federal and State Government money. The community has also made important contributions.

It is totally unacceptable for the Director Environment, Planning and Community, Des Schroder, to say the identified saving for galleries and museum area was $25,000. In addition, of course, is the Council decision not to fund the capital art purchases for 2016/17.

This Gallery is probably the most important asset for the Clarence Valley. The professionalism of its staff together with the enormous contribution made by The Friends of the Gallery and the Gallery Foundation members and volunteers has made our Gallery recognised as one of the very best regional galleries.

How ironical it is that the Gallery has been featured over the past few weeks for wonderful events, such as the recent visit to Yugilbar Station and the Soups Day and today we read about the plans for Gate to Plate to be held in October.

Leaving aside social functions - which after all contribute to the liveability of a town - the JADA Exhibition (Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award) has received a record number of entries. This exhibition is held in high regard throughout Australia and receives entries from all states of Australia.

To suggest that the Gallery does not attract tourists just shows how totally out of touch the decision makers are. Recently at both the Yamba and Grafton Bridge Congresses, people spoke to me about the Gallery and I had to inform them that unfortunately it is no longer open on Sundays and there is no coffee shop. This is a recent example but it happens all the time.

I would like to inform those members of the Council executive that worldwide statistics show that more people visit galleries and museums than sporting fixtures. Sure, a sporting fixture attracts a large crowd for one event but those people then want to explore other attractions such as galleries.

The council elections will be held next month. It is our chance to ask candidates whether they want a liveable city or one that has a super and expensive depot so that the general manager can justify his priority of roads, water and sewerage (notes taken at the public meeting May 12, 2015).

Let us make sure we do not surrender our much loved title as "The Jacaranda City" to be replaced by "The Forgotten City".

Heather Roland

Monday, 11 July 2016

CSIRO implements Abbott-Turnbull Government's climate change denial agenda?

The latest CSIRO chief executive Dr. Larry Marshall (with the organisation since January 2015) clearly states in this podcast that the type of scientific investigation to be conducted in the future will be dictated by the federal government ("the customer") and implies that the Abbott-Turnbull Government is unbiased when it comes to climate change.......

Meanwhile, as Marshall trashes the international reputation of the CSIRO, a newly resurgent One Nation is all set to strengthen the hand of  climate change denialists' in Coalition ranks.....

Independent Australia, 7 July 2016:

Hanson, who leads her own One Nation party, has won election to Australia’s Senate and, as counting continues, she could bring more candidates with her.

But as well as pushing xenophobia and division, the Queensland politician will also take a most extreme brand of climate science denial with her into the Senate.
As I wrote on The Guardian, Hanson’s party has been taking cues on climate science from one of the country’s most enthusiastic and relentless pushers of climate science denial, former coal miner Malcolm Roberts.

Roberts is the volunteer project leader of the Galileo Movement, a Queensland-based project launched in 2011 to fight laws to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions.
Roberts is also standing as a Senate candidate for One Nation and still has an outside chance of being elected, although Hanson is more enthusiastic about his chances than some analysts. The “wacky world view” of Roberts has since been reported by the Courier-Mail and the Sydney Morning Herald.

If you hang around the climate change issue for long enough, then at some point you’ll likely come across the extreme end of science denial and the conspiracy theories that Roberts represents.

It goes a bit like this. Humans are not causing climate change. Government-paid climate scientists and their agencies are corrupt. The United Nations is in league with international bankers to defraud the world. It’s all about control. 

That sort of stuff.

The Galileo Movement was founded in 2011 by Queensland retirees Case Smit and John Smeed.

A year earlier, the pair had organised a speaking tour for British climate science denialist Lord Christopher Monckton — a tour that attracted sponsorship from mining billionaire Gina Rinehart.

Roberts became the project manager. The group pulled together an “advisory council” that includes the likes of Fred Singer, Monckton, Pat Michaels and Richard Lindzen

The advisory group once included influential political blogger Andrew Bolt, until the News Ltd writer claimed Roberts had been spreading anti-Jewish conspiracy theories — a charge the Galileo Movement denied.

Those policies include calls for investigations into the “corruption of climate science” and the teaching of climate “scepticism” in schools.
After gaining enough votes to secure her own seat, Hanson told The Saturday Paper:
“This whole climate change is not based on empirical evidence and we are being hoodwinked. Climate change is not due to humans.”

Elsewhere, One Nation also reflects Roberts’ paranoia over United Nation’s policies to support environmentally sustainable development — known as Agenda 21. In the eyes of One Nation, Agenda 21 morphs into a sinister control program leaving “no person outside of its reach.”

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: 666 apprenticeships gone under Nationals in Page

Labor Candidate for Page Janelle Saffin, media release, 30 June 2016:

666 Apprenticeships gone in Page under the Nationals

New figures released by the Department of Education show that apprenticeship numbers in Page have fallen by 31.5 per cent in two years, with a loss of 666 apprenticeships in the Page electorate.

Janelle Saffin, Federal Labor Candidate for Page said disappointingly Mr Hogan and the rest of the Nationals have allowed this to happen, with these figures replicated across Australia, with 130,000 apprenticeships gone nationally.

The number of apprenticeships in Page dropped from 2,117 at 31 December 2013, to just 1,451 at 31 December 2015.

“The retreat from supporting apprentices and the vocational education and training sector started with Mr Abbott and Mr Truss, and it continues with Mr Turnbull and Mr Joyce,” Ms Saffin said.

“I am serious about investing in apprentices, skills and training in Page.

“The Nationals have cut $2.75 billion from the skills portfolio, including $1 billion in cuts to apprentices by scrapping the Tools for Your Trade program and access and mentoring programs.

“How can they talk ‘jobs and growth’ and then decimate apprenticeships and the VET sector?

“It’s vital that we train and retrain our workforce to improve participation, productivity, and innovation. This is what will drive growth in our region.

“Kevin Hogan and the Nationals have been missing in action on apprenticeships and jobs.”

Ms Saffin said Labor had a comprehensive set of policies to help apprentices, skills and training, including among other policy measures:

• A TAFE Funding Guarantee.

• $8,000 cap on VET FEE-HELP loans per year and a VET sector ombudsman.

• A sector-wide national review to ensure vocational education is able to meet the
training needs of the nation.

• Establishing Commonwealth Institutes of Higher Education to deliver new technical
and education opportunities to areas where access remains difficult and participation is too low.

• Boosting apprenticeships across the country by:

- creating new apprenticeship opportunities through setting a quota of
apprentices on major federally-funded projects.
- reintroducing the Tools for Your Trade program at $3,000 per apprentice to
support them from commencement to completion.
- restoring support for Group Training organisations.
- creating pathways into apprenticeships for 10,000 young people unemployed
people through the Apprentice Ready program.
- piloting a National Skills Recognition Entitlement program with 5,000 places to
help mature-aged, retrenched workers turn their extensive work experience into
formal qualifications.
- connecting potential apprentices with jobs and training through an
Apprenticeships Connect search portal.
- appointing a dedicated Apprentice Advocate.

“Only a Shorten Labor Government will deliver the support for apprentices and TAFE that local residents expect and a vocational education system that delivers a skilled workforce for the future,” Ms Saffin said.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: the Nationals funding bandwagon rolls on along NSW North Coast

National MPs and candidates on the NSW North Coast are rolling out the funding promises with a vengeance now the old 2013 Debt & Deficit Disaster campaign slogan has been hidden under the bed.

Sitting MP Kevin Hogan in the Page electorate:

$1.8 million for a boardwalk along Maclean's Riverside Precinct
$200,000 on CCTV coverage of Grafton and South Grafton business districts
$5,300 for the purchase and installation of two reverse cycle air conditioners in Casino's Community Men's Shed 
$1 million for rebuilding the Woolgoolga Surf Life-Saving Club
New mobile phone towers at Ramornie, Nammoona, Yorklea and Kyogle
$2 million to replace wooden bridges in Kyogle
$500,000 towards an ampitheatre at Casino

Federal candidate for Richmond Matthew Fraser:

$1 million for a second story on Kingscliff's Salt Surf Life Saving Club

Sitting MP Luke Hartsuyker in The Cowper electorate:

$12,000 for Capacity Building for Sustainable and Biological Farming in the Bellingen/Coffs Harbour region
$45,400 Local Blueberry Industry Market Segmentation Research to improve targeting of behaviour change tools for Best Practice
$12,000 in grants for Coffs Harbour community radio station CHYFM
$27,695 training grant for Macksville business Mid Coast Trucks
$4,700 Reap Coffs Harbour
$4,460 Pregnancy Care Coffs Harbour
$1,619 Coffs and Woolgoolga Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Group
$3,950 Sanctuary Australia Foundation
$2,250 Special Needs Support Group
$4,004The Friends of the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden
$2,500 Swimming North Coast – Coffs Harbour  
$2,800 Boambee East Community Centre
$3,333 South Coffs Community Garden  

Somewhere in all this is Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s $25 million promise to the Northern Rivers and Mid-North Coast - rather vaguely called the Coalition jobs package for NSW North Coast and aimed at new, creative and innovative local businesses in the Page, Cowper and Lyne electorates. 

Of course all these businesses, from Taree and Port Macquarie up to Lismore and Ballina, will be competing with each other for a slice of this relatively small amount of money.

* My apologies to North Coast Nationals MPs and candidates if I omitted any funding pledges which have been made to date, but that's the sort of thing that will sometimes occur when election campaign press releases aren't sent out to social media.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Labor calls out Team Turnbull on its Pacific Highway Magical Infrastructure Re-announcement Tour

Shadow Minister For Infrastructure And Transport Anthony Albanese, Member For Richmond Justine Elliot and Candidate For Page Janelle Saffin, Joint Media Release, 11 June 2016:


A Shorten Labor Government will end the Coalition’s go-slow approach to the Pacific Highway duplication and get this project back on track to improve productivity and
road safety in northern NSW.

In the 2016 Budget, the Turnbull Government cut $351 million from the Pacific Highway duplication project.

To conceal its cuts, the Government has continually re-announced parts of the Pacific Highway upgrade that were designed and funded by the former Labor
Federal Government.

It is bad enough that Malcolm Turnbull has cut funding for this critical project. But by pretending otherwise with his ongoing Magical Infrastructure Re-announcement
Tour, Mr Turnbull is treating the people of coastal NSW like fools.

Labor can be trusted to deliver on the Pacific Highway.

Between 2007 and 2013 the former Labor Federal Government invested $7.9 billion on the highway, delivering important projects including the Banora Point upgrade,
the Kempsey, Ballina and Bulahdelah bypasses and the Sapphire to Arrawarra, Frederickton to Eungai and Tintenbar to Ewingsdale sections.

Labor’s investment dwarfed the $1.3 billion invested by the former Howard Coalition Government over 12 years. Labor delivered six times the investment in half the time.

Finishing the Pacific Highway will boost the economic productivity of the entire northern NSW region by taking trucks off the road and easing traffic congestion.

But during its period in office, the Coalition has not started a single new project on the highway.

It has also slashed financial assistance grants that local councils use to maintain local roads by $11.3 million over the next three years in the seat of Page and $4.4
million in the seat of Richmond.

And it has failed to progress the proposed High Speed Rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra, a visionary project that would turbo charge
economic growth in Northern NSW, with stations planned for Casino and Grafton.

A Shorten Labor Government will create a High Speed Rail Authority to advance planning for the project and begin to acquire the corridor before it is built out by
urban sprawl.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: Labor candidate for Page Janelle Saffin announces a Shorten Government will repair Coalition budget cuts to community legal centres

Labor Media Release, Friday 10 June 2016:


Janelle Page, Federal Labor Candidate for Page, today said a Shorten Labor Government would provide $300,000 over three years to ensure the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre has the funds to continue helping people in need.

The Federal Budget confirmed that the Liberal-National Government would cut funding for Community Legal Centres by 30 per cent, however Labor will inject a total of $43 million into the sector over three years from 1 July 2017.

Ms Saffin said Labor understood how important the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre was to people in the seat of Page.

“Access to legal assistance when you need help is as important as access to Medicare when you’re sick. That’s why Community Legal Centres are such an important local service.

“The Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre helps local people deal with a wide range of legal issues – from tenants’ rights, to domestic violence and family law disputes.

“Labor will ensure that CLCs can continue their vital work helping people to navigate their way through our complex legal system.”

Ms Saffin said the Liberal-Nationals attack on Community Legal Centres was another example of how local MP Kevin Hogan had failed to needs of regional communities.

“Mr Hogan has been missing in action. He’s been too busy defending the city-centric Liberal-Nationals to defend local community legal services.

“Labor will ensure the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre can keep its doors open and go on providing vital services to the people of the North Coast and Northern Rivers.”

Ms. Saffin told The Daily Examiner on the same day:

"Access to legal assistance when you need help is as important as access to Medicare when you're sick. That's why Community Legal Centres are such an important local service," Ms Saffin said.

"The Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre helps local people deal with a wide range of legal issues, from tenants' rights, to domestic violence and family law disputes.

"Labor will ensure that CLCs can continue their vital work helping people to navigate their way through our complex legal system."

Ken Beilby, the Principal Solicitor for the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre in Lismore said the funding will mean they do not have to shut offices in the Richmond Valley in Casino and the Tweed Valley office in Murwillumbah.

"It's going to help us maintain front line services to disadvantaged clients in our region," Mr Beilby said.

"One of the main priorities of our centre is women experiencing domestic violence and providing early intervention.

"Our ability to continue assisting vulnerable clients will be greatly diminished without those funding cuts being restored."

Monday, 13 June 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: recalling better times in the Page electorate

The public hospital system in the NSW Northern Rivers region has been attempting to deal with state and federal health funding cuts by Coalition governments for years now (including est.$730 million over ten years from the Northern NSW Local Hospital District) and the strain is beginning to show.
So it’s only natural that a good many regional voters look back fondly on the hard work then Labor MP for Page Janelle Saffin put in to securing health funding between 2007 to 2013.
This effort on the electorate’s behalf included:
$4 million for a community health centre in Yamba
$20 million for the upgrade of Grafton Base Hospital and 114,000 for new equipment for the Emergency Department
$487,000 to refurbish 10 student nurse accommodation rooms at Grafton Base Hospital
Federal grant to establish the Grafton Super Clinic
$60.25 million to redevelop Lismore Base Hospital, including new emergency department, an express community care clinic and a new renal dialysis unit
$7 million on top of the $8 million already committed for Lismore Base Hospital radiology services
Magnetic resonance Imaging (MRI) services for Lismore Base Hospital and North Coast radiology’s Clarence Valley Imaging in Grafton
$15 million to fast track the Lismore Integrated Cancer Centre
$2.7 million for a second linear accelerator at the Lismore Base Hospital Integrated Cancer Centre, providing cancer treatment for an extra 30 patients a day
$7 million for Lismore GP Super Clinic
$2.6 million for Our House Cancer Patient Accommodation in Lismore for cancer patients and families -150 construction jobs 
$2.53 million to St Vincent’s Private Hospital Lismore for two new operation theatres, $884,414for state-of-the-art teaching centre and $157,000 to purchase equipment to develop aUrological Centre of Excellence 
$7.9 million to establish the University of Western Sydney's new Rural Clinical School in Lismore and Bathurst
$407,000 to expand McKid Medical Private General Practice in Kyogle under the Primary Care Infrastructure Grants Program and $295,455 to upgrade the Urbenville Medical Centre
$9.22 million to North Coast Medicare Local to establish its headquarters in Ballina and for operational funding
$1.45 million investment in dental funding for the Northern Rivers, announced this year as part of the Commonwealth Dental Health Program
Five new GP registrars to train in Lismore, Goonellabah, Ballina and Alstonville and four specialist doctors in Lismore area
$1.6million to Interrelate to boost mental health services in Ballina and Kyogle shires and the Richmond Valley
$640,000 to Local HACC services Home and Community Care Program funding
$1.45 million investment in dental funding for the Northern Rivers announced in 2013  as part of the Commonwealth Dental Health Program
Five new GP registrars to train in Lismore, Goonellabah, Ballina and Alstonville and four specialist doctors in Lismore area
$1.6million to Interrelate to boost mental health services in Ballina and Kyogle shires and the Richmond Valley
$700,000 to Clarence Valley Council under the Healthy Communities Initiative to combat obesity
A total of $522,000 to Bulgarr Ngaru Aboriginal Medical Service to expand its health service with new premises and practice manager
$1.9 million for local crisis intervention services.
A list of funding for a range of services within the Page electorate between August 2010 and September 2013:

Ms. Saffin is standing as Labor's candidate in Page on 2 July 2016.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Meanwhile at state level in New South Wales.....

The gloves are off over Tweed Hospital funding…..


THE NSW Government has promised $48 million in funding for stages one and two of the $211 million Tweed Hospital redevelopment if re-elected next month.
NSW deputy premier Troy Grant, health minister Jillian Skinner and Tweed MP Geoff Provest made the announcement at Tweed Hospital this morning.
The Tweed Hospital has struggled to cope under the pressure of a growing population and a lack of beds with emergency department attendances up by nearly 10 per cent last year alone.
Plans for a redevelopment of the Tweed Hospital were approved in late 2013, however the Northern Rivers Health Board has made the redevelopment of both the Lismore and Byron Hospitals a priority before works start at Tweed.
Mrs Skinner said despite the issues facing the hospital, Tweed redevelopment remained the third priority in the region.
“This $48 million will redevelop the emergency department, increase the ward space and bed capacity as well as a new carpark,” she said.


Tweed Daily News:

TWEED MP Geoff Provest is calling for greater Tweed representation on the Northern NSW Local Health District Board, saying this area is losing out to its counterparts in Lismore and Byron when it comes to hospital funding.
Mr Provest said "questions needed to be asked" over the NNSWLHD's handling of the Tweed Hospital upgrade, following revelations estimated costs of Stage One of the works had almost doubled from $48 million to $80m.
NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner declined to comment on the blow-out but her office confirmed estimates for the 2016-2017 Budget would not be increased to meet the shortfall, despite pleas by the Tweed Medical Staff Council to fully fund the actual costings…..

TWEED Hospital surgeons have been backed by the Australian Medical Association as the doctors brace themselves for the reality of another funding campaign.
Dr Stephen White said the Tweed Hospital urgently needed a redevelopment because patients were "pressured" to leave early after procedures for new admissions, a technique known in the industry as 'hot-bedding'.
"It wouldn't be unusual to have three people admitted into the same bed, on the same day, and I think that's extreme," Dr White said.
"People get told the day after surgery they have to go home and the reality is they can't."
Dr White criticised Northern NSW Health District's latest upgrade budgeting blunder, saying up to 30% of surgeons' work "was not recognised" or factored into their forward estimates because the patients were Queenslanders…..

Shadow Health Minister and North Coast MP Walt Secord has challenged Tweed MP Geoff Provest to provide a timeline on the Tweed Hospital upgrade from NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner.
Only $48 million is due to be released for stage one of the hospital’s upgrade in the June Budget, even through the figure is understood to be closer to $140m.
Mrs Skinner told ABC Radio on May 10 it was unfortunate the Northern Rivers Local Health District board had underestimated the funds required for stage one of the redevelopment but lessons had been learnt.
Mr Secord said the North Coast needed a statement from Mr Provest or Mrs Skinner “stating they are going to fully fund Tweed Hospital, with dates and deadlines”.
“Too often, the community has been tricked by weasel words from the Liberals and Nationals,” he said.
“We need these dates so we can track the progress and ensure that the upgrade is on track.”

FIRST it was a weasel, now it’s a dim sim: a war of words has erupted between Tweed MP Geoff Provest and Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord over funding for the Tweed Hospital.
Mr Provest today quipped back at Mr Secord, also Labor’s MP for the North Coast, over his call for a definitive timeline on the Tweed Hospital upgrade, saying the request was just part of a dirty “smear campaign”.
Yesterday the shadow health minister said Mr Provest had used “weasel words” in dodging a formal commitment to fund the full cost of the hospital’s redevelopment, following a blow out in costs from $48m to an estimated $140m for Stage One of the project.
But Mr Provest retaliated, accusing Mr Secord of mounting a personal attack against him.
“I think he’s the king of smear,” Mr Provest retorted, referring to Mr Secord.
“He has no idea of what is actually happening at the Tweed Hospital.
“I can’t even remember the last time he visited here. He’s not met with the Tweed doctors and not had any communication with them.
“He went to Beijing and fell over on a dim sim, and now he’s back in parliament at Sydney, and just full of the smear that Labor is renowned for.”
But Mr Secord hit back, saying in fact, during the last parliamentary recess, he had been 1600km west of Shanghai in rural China when he tripped and broke his ankle and fibula.
“I am in a wheelchair, but this will not stop me from ensuring Tweed MP Geoff Provest delivers a full upgrade of Tweed Hospital,” he said

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: Turnbull's federal plan for your pearly whites

Excerpt from Australian Dept. of Health statement, 23 April 2016:

Through the 2016–17 Budget, the Government is introducing the new national Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme from 1 July 2016. This Scheme will replace the Child Dental Benefits Schedule and the National Partnership Agreement on Adult Dental Services.

Under the Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme, over 10 million Australians will have access to Federal Government subsidised public dental care. We expect that an extra 600,000 public dental patients will be treated each year through this Scheme.

The Government will spend $2.1 billion in the five year National Partnership Agreement for the new Scheme. This represents the largest-ever Commonwealth investment in public dental coverage –– which, for the first time, will be enshrined in legislation to provide long-term certainty.

Overall, we will spend a total of about $5 billion over the next four years in improving dental outcomes, including through the Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme, private health insurance rebate, the Commonwealth's contribution to in-hospital dental services, and dental infrastructure in rural and remote Australia.

Public dental services will be improved with better funding. Over time, people's dental health issues will be tackled earlier, with the focus shifting from restorative to preventive dental care, avoiding tooth decay, and alleviating more significant health problems and expense.

The new Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme lays the foundations for a fair and equitable national scheme for children and adults that Australia can afford now and into the future. This reflects the Government's broader integrated approach to health reform, improving oral health, and contributing to better overall health.

Sky News, 23 April 2016:

As part of the $5 billion plan, $2.1 billion will go to the states and territories, who can use the money to pay for private dentists "where service gaps arise" Ms Ley said.

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) has described the new scheme as "smoke and mirrors".

Axing the children's dental scheme is the wrong approach to a serious problem, and money is being taken out of dental care, dentists say.

"Let's see this for what it is. This is a 'budget saving' that results in a reduction of about $200m per annum for dental care," ADA president Rick Olive said in a statement.

"Let's not be fooled. This is a measure that just won't deliver."

The Turnbull Government announcement reveals that the new dental health scheme is directly funding public dental health to the tune of $2.9 million over five years, with approx. $415 million available in 2016-17 or an average of around $51.8 million for each state and territory.

In its 2014-15 Budget the Abbott Government deferred the National Partnership Agreement for adult public dental services and ceased the Dental Flexible Grants Programme – saving $609 million over four years. In that budget government also expected to achieve savings of up to $35.7 million over four years by deferring indexation of Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) dental and allied health provider payments to 1 July 2016.

In its 2015-16 Budget the Abbott Government expected to save $125.6 million over four years from 2015‑16 by broadly aligning indexation arrangements for both the benefits payable and the benefits cap under the Child Dental Benefits Schedule with indexation arrangements for other health benefits programmes. In that budget government stated it would provide $155.0 million in 2015-16 for a one year agreement to replace the existing National Partnership Agreement on Adult Public Dental Services and that the agreement would support the provision of dental health services to adults who rely on the public dental system.

Public dental health schemes across the country have been under intense strain since at least July 2014 even when eligibility for these schemes was targeting low-income households. Now the Turnbull Government has decided to open the floodgates by removing means-tested eligibility.

There is a subsidy cap per eligible individual of $1,000 every two years in the existing federal scheme and I presume that this cap will remain in the new scheme.

With the $2.1 billion divided between eight states and territories over a five year period only 1.74% of the Australian population, or a total of est. 52,500 people in each state/territory, will potentially be able to access this scheme every two years via a participating private dentist before the money runs out.

The remaining 40% of adults and children the Turnbull Government calculates may wish to access this national public dental scheme will be obliged to seek treatment from the public dental heath schemes in their respective states or territories.

However, if the Turnbull Government subsidises dental treatment at a lower rate that the existing scheme then the number of individuals who receive adequate treatment by way of state and territory public dental health schemes may drop dramatically.

All those accessing state public dental schemes will be faced with waiting lists.

At the end of December 2015 there were 9,203 children and 104,156 adults who were waiting for public general dental care in NSW – 11% of the children and 32% of adults had been waiting for periods exceeding clinically acceptable benchmark times.

An est. 15,507 individuals on the waiting list were in the Mid-North Coast and Northern NSW regions.

Given past reports of waiting times, it is not outside the realms of possibility that approximately 25% of those who have been waiting for public general dental care in NSW have been waiting for up to one to two years.

In September 2015 the population of NSW was 7.64 million people. All of these people are now potentially eligible for public general dental care under the Turnbull Government's Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme once they reach two years of age and over.

Does Prime Minister Turnbull seriously believe that his est. $5 billion cut eight ways will stretch that far?