Sunday, 8 June 2014

Pensioner concessions stay in New South Wales and Queensland

Pensioners will be spared cuts to concessions on basic living expenses, with NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance to announce on Sunday that the Baird government will fund a $107 million shortfall left by the federal budget.
The move to cushion the blow of the Abbott government's cuts follows angry scenes in Queensland after Premier Campbell Newman decided to pass on $50 million in Commonwealth cuts to pensioners in the Queensland budget. Within 48 hours, as irate pensioners flooded talkback radio, Mr Newman had reversed his decision.
Mr Constance said: "We understand the cost of living pressures seniors face and are determined to ensure they are not adversely affected by the federal government's harsh cuts … We are not in the business of creating bill shock, where, in just a few weeks' time, people would have been left out of pocket courtesy of Canberra."
The NSW budget will commit an extra $107 million to maintain pensioner and seniors' concessions. These include discounted vehicle registration, $2.50 travel across the train, ferry and bus network, a $250 discount on council rates to pension card holders, a $235 rebate on electricity bills and an exemption from Sydney Water service charges of $31 a quarter…..

It appears that in New South Wales pensioner concessions will remain for the life of the current state budget. Hopefully, funds to cover these concessions in future years will also be found.

As in remote, rural and regional areas in particular, bus/train travel and car registration concessions can mean the difference between receiving adequate medical care for chronic or potentially life threatening disease/illness or having to go without appropriate treatment all together because access to regular specialist medical care is unachievable.

What all members of the Abbott Government (without whose support the draconian 2014-15 Federal Budget would not exist) appear to have forgotten is facts such as these from the National Rural Health Alliance:

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reports that cancer is responsible for Australia’s largest disease burden, with more than 108,000 new cases and more than 39,000 cancer deaths in 2007.
About one-third of the people affected by cancer live in regional and rural areas. For them, the burden of cancer is disproportionately heavy.
People living with cancer in regional and rural areas have poorer survival rates than those living in major cities, and the further from a major city patients with cancer live, the more likely they are to die within five years of diagnosis.
A study by Jong et al published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) in 2004 found that people with cancer in remote areas of NSW were 35 per cent more likely to die within five years of diagnosis than patients in metropolitan areas.
For prostate and cervical cancers, patients in remote NSW were up to three times more likely to die within five years of diagnosis than those living in more accessible areas….
For most people a cancer diagnosis causes significant physical and emotional distress, loss of income and substantial expense.
Because of the complexity of cancer treatment and the absence of specialist services, most rural people with cancer need to travel to major centres for at least some of their care.
This adds to the financial and personal burden for patients and their families….

As well as in this article by ABC News on 4 November 2013:

It seems little progress has been made over the past two decades in bridging the gap between rural and city cancer patients when it comes to treatment.
A study in the Medical Journal of Australia has found cancer patients in rural and remote communities continue to be at increased risk of death from the disease compared to their city counterparts.
The paper looked at cancer deaths from 2001 to 2010.
It found there was no improvement in the rates of regional and remote patients dying of cancer. In fact, for women, the disparity actually increased.
Dr Michael Coorey, from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, says one of the reasons death rates have not improved is because of the lack of investments in policy on how to organise cancer services so they provide the most benefit to patients.
"Enough is already known about the causes of the regional and remote access in deaths to start evaluating possible solutions," he said.
Possible solutions could include more support for regional and remote patients to travel to metropolitan centres, and more funding for associated accommodation….

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