Showing posts with label Liberal National Party. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Liberal National Party. Show all posts

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

"An infamous federal government bureaucrat at the centre of one of the biggest scandals in the ABC’s history – a fraudulent story which sparked the multi-billion dollar Northern Territory intervention – has been promoted to serve as Australia’s High Commissioner to Ghana."

New Matilda, 28 June 2020:

An infamous federal government bureaucrat at the centre of one of the biggest scandals in the ABC’s history – a fraudulent story which sparked the multi-billion dollar Northern Territory intervention – has been promoted to serve as Australia’s High Commissioner to Ghana.

Gregory Andrews was working as a senior adviser to Indigenous affairs minister Mal Brough in 2006 when he appeared as the star witness in an ABC Lateline story which falsely described him as an ‘anonymous youth worker’.
Andrews – whose face was filmed in shadow and his voice digitized to hide his identity – wept openly on camera as he described how, in the mid-2000s, he reported incidents of sexual violence against women and children in Mutitjulu to police, but withdrew his statements after being threatened by powerful men in the community.
It subsequently emerged the entire story was a fiction – Andrews had never made a single report of violence against women or children to police.
Andrews was also forced to apologise to the Federal Senate for providing misleading testimony, and later became the first public servant in history to avoid appearing before a Senate Inquiry on the grounds of stress.
The day after the ABC story was broadcast, the Northern Territory government announced a high-level inquiry into the claims. Almost a year later, the resulting reporting – Little Children Are Sacred – was used by the Howard Government as the basis for launching the Northern Territory intervention.

Infamous Canberra bureaucrat, Gregory Andrews, pictured in 2017.

Reporting by Fairfax revealed that shortly before Prime Minister John Howard announced the NT intervention, it received a report from Liberal Party polling firm Crosby Textor advising it that its best chance of winning the 2007 election was to intervene in the affairs of the state and territory governments, to try and make them look incompetent (all state and territory governments at the time were controlled by Labor).
The strategy failed – the Howard government lost the election, with former Foreign Affairs minister Alexander Downer lamenting afterwards that despite the loss, the policy proved popular with Australian voters.
Andrews worked in the community of Mutitjulu for a short period in 2005 as a project manager for the Northern Territory government. He subsequently joined the Department of Families and Community Services, Housing and Indigenous Affairs, and was providing advice directly to Minister Brough when the ABC falsely described him as an ‘anonymous youth worker’.
Talking points which had been prepared by Andrews for the minister prior to his appearance on Lateline were subsequently leaked – they revealed that once Andrews was provided anonymity by Lateline, he grossly embellished his story.
Andrews claimed children were being traded between Aboriginal communities in Central Australia as “sex slaves”. A lengthy investigation by Northern Territory police found “no evidence whatsoever” to support the claims. An Australian Crime Commission investigation also found the allegations to be false.....
Read the full article here.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Political bully boy exposed

The Guardian, 15 June 2018:

An advertising executive and commentator is refusing to delete a social media post mocking the Queensland opposition frontbencher Jarrod Bleijie, despite being referred to the powerful ethics committee.

Bleijie had at the time been arguing against a motion to speed up debate on the Labor government’s vegetation management laws so parliament could adjourn at its new “family friendly” time and avoid sitting into the night.

After seeing the tweet, Bleijie complained to the speaker, Curtis Pitt, who referred Madigan to the ethics committee, because under parliamentary rules vision from the floor of the house can’t be used for “satire or ridicule”.

Pitt said his office also attempted to have the Twitter post removed.

Madigan previously refused to remove the tweet when contacted by the clerk of parliament, and on Friday again tweeted she would be leaving the post up.

“If this is upheld it means no one on [social media] can retweet or share with a comment any parli footage, even if it has been on the news or streamed live or shared by pollies,” Madigan wrote. “The precedent on free speech is extraordinary. It is bullshit.”

No Fibs, 15 June 2018:

Not long after, the Clerk of the Queensland Parliament, Neil Laurie, contacted Ms Madigan asking her to delete her comment after a complaint had been received. He labeled her, “a contracted campaigner of the Labor Party, Queensland Division”. Mr Laurie went on to cite, in its entirety, section 50 of the Parliament of Queensland Act 2001 including that footage of proceedings in the Queensland parliament should not be subject to such things as ridicule, satire or political advertising. In his view, the Tweet breached, “the terms and conditions and is a prima facie contempt”….

Ms Madigan pointed out that she was not contracted to the Labor Party in either Queensland or elsewhere, that she was a private citizen, entitled to retweet people and would not be removing the Tweet. She also pointed out that multiple members of the LNP had used parliamentary footage over time to express political opinions and to ridicule.

Thirty-six year old former lawyer and former Attorney-General Jarrod Pieter Bleijie has been a sitting Liberal National Party member in the Queensland Parliament since 21 March 2009.

However nine years in politics has not given him any claim to wisdom.

Why he saw fit to take his objection to this tweet as far as he has is not known1.

What was predictable is that now he has, this tweet below will likely live on as a footnote in Queensland political history and, he will be forever remembered as a pompous and thin skinned individual.




The Ethics Committee of the 56th Parliament was established on 15 February 2018.

The committee’s areas of responsibility as set out in section 104B of the Parliament of Queensland Act 2001 are as follows:
* dealing with complaints about the ethical conduct of particular members
* dealing with alleged breaches of parliamentary privilege by members of the Assembly and other persons.

Further to this, section 104C of the Parliament of Queensland Act 2001 provides:
The committee’s area of responsibility about dealing with complaints about the ethical conduct of particular members is to—
* consider complaints referred to the committee about particular members failing to register particular interests; and
* consider complaints against particular members for failing to comply with the code of ethical conduct for members, report on complaints to the Assembly and recommend action by the Assembly.
* A complaint about a member not complying with the code of ethical conduct for members may be considered only by the Assembly or the committee.
* Subsection (2) has effect despite any other law, but the subsection does not apply to a court, tribunal or other entity if the entity may, under a law, consider an issue and the issue that is considered involves the commission, or claimed or suspected commission, of a criminal offence.
* Subsection (3) does not limit or otherwise affect the powers, rights and immunities of the Assembly and its committees and members.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Why are we still refusing to fully honour the spiritual and cultural relationship that traditional owners have to the land in Australia?

It doesn’t matter to the Turnbull Government that science declares that Aboriginal Australia has existed since time immemorial or that indigenous culture has existed on this continent longer than any other culture which is now part of multicultural Australia -  it stubbornly refuses to genuinely honour the spiritual and cultural relationship that traditional owners have with the land.

June 15, 2017

14 June 2017
Traditional Owners slam passage of Native Title amendments
Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s proposed coal mine have expressed profound disappointment at the passage of Attorney General Brandis’ amendments to the Native Title Act, stressing that while Mabo’s legacy has been diminished they will continue to fight for their rights.
Senior spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, says, “Adani’s problems with the Wangan and Jagalingou people are not solved this week. The trial to decide the fate of Adani’s supposed deal with the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners is scheduled for the Federal Court in March 2018.
“Our people are the last line of legal defence against this mine and its corrosive impact on our rights, and the destruction of country that would occur.
“Senator Brandis has been disingenuous in prosecuting his argument for these changes to native title laws, while the hands of native title bureaucrats and the mining lobby are all over the outcome.
“This swift overturning of a Federal Court decision, without adequate consultation with Indigenous people, was a significant move, not a mere technical consideration as the Turnbull Government has tried to make out.
“It is appalling and false for George Brandis to pretend that by holding a ‘workshop’ with the CEOs of the native title service bodies, he has the unanimous agreement of Traditional Owners across Australia. No amount of claimed ‘beseeching’ by the head of the Native Title Council, Glen Kelly, can disguise this.
“The public were not properly informed about the bill, and nor were Indigenous people around the country, who were not consulted and did not consent to these changes.
“We draw the line today. We declare our right to our land. There is no surrender. There is no land use agreement. We are the people from that land. We’re the rightful Traditional Owners of Wangan and Jagalingou country, and we are in court to prove that others are usurping our rights”, he said.
Spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, says, “Whatever else this change does, we know that the Turnbull Government went into overdrive for Adani’s interests.
“Brandis’ intervention in our court case challenging the sham ILUA was about Adani. Most of what Senator Matt Canavan had to say in argueing his ill-informed case for native title changes was about Adani. The Chairman of Senate Committee inquiring into the bill, Senator Ian McFarlane, referring to the native title amendments as “the Adani bill” was about Adani. And the PM telling Chairman Gautam Adani that he’d fix native title was about Adani”.
“We are continuing to fight Adani in court and our grounds are strong. If anyone tells you this is settled because the bill was passed, they are lying”, she said.
Adrian Burragubba says, “The Labor Opposition seems to understand this, even though they supported passage of the bill. Senator Pat Dodson went so far as to say this bill does not provide some kind of green light for the Adani mine, as some suggest.
“Pat Dodson acknowledged that W&J have several legal actions afoot against Adani and we are glad that in the midst of this dismal response to the rights of Indigenous people some MPs, including the Greens who voted against the bill, recognise the serious claim we have to justice.
Mr Dodson said in the Senate that: “most of this litigation will be entirely unaffected by the passage of this bill. In particular, there are very serious allegations of fraud that have been made against Adani regarding the processes under which agreements with the Wangan and Jagalingou people were purportedly reached. And those proceedings, which may impact on the validity of any ILUA, will only commence hearings in March next year. Other legal action is also underway, including a case challenging the validity of the licences issued by the Queensland government.”
This week researchers from the University of Queensland released a report titled ‘Unfinished Business: Adani, the state, and the Indigenous rights struggle of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council‘.
For more information and to arrange interviews:  Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Mediscare, shmediscare

Essential Report, 5 June 2016

The baying and bleating coming from the designated Liberal-Nationals corner of the schoolyard over the so-called Mediscare is odd to say the least.

Take this text message that allegedly turned up on an unknown number of mobile phones:

That particular Queensland Labor text has been referred to the Australian Federal Police by someone within Coalition ranks.

This mob point the finger at one example of a text message sent on the last day of the federal election campaign while bellowing We wuz robbed!

Never mind that est. 69% of people who voted Labor had made their minds up about their first preference vote from two weeks to over a month ago and, est. 75% of Liberal-Nationals voters had done the same.

Ignore the fact that almost 3 million voters had pre-polled by 30 June 2016 and it was impossible for the last day of the election campaign to affect them.

Pretend that it is beyond a reasonable person's understanding to realize this means that over 8.11 million voters would probably not have been influenced by that tweet even if they had received it.

No,no. There was a !!Mediscare!! which lied about the best friends that Medicare ever had and lost the Coalition votes and seats.

All those attempts to whittle away at universal heath care that the Liberals and Nationals have  tried over the years and of which the general public were well aware? Phfft! Means nothing says Turnbull & Co.


The Age, 15 April 2005:

Prime Minister John Howard has refused to rule out further cuts to the Medicare safety net, following yesterday's announcement that  low-income earners face a 75 per cent rise in out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Subsidies for 400,000 Australians with big medical bills will be axed under the clawback of the Medicare safety net, announced yesterday.

In his second broken election promise in six months, Prime Minister John Howard yesterday announced that the poor will now have to spend $500 - up from $306 - before the Government picks up most of their health costs.

Others will have to pay $1000, compared with $716 under the existing system.
"This is not a popular decision, I understand that," Mr Howard told ABC radio this morning. ``People will be disappointed, people will be critical, I accept that.

"I don't like having to make this announcement, but I had a choice between maintaining something, the cost of which was ratcheting up, or alternatively taking some unpopular decisions now so that in the long term we can keep the safety net."

He said while a safety net would remain under the Coalition, he refused to promise that there would be no more changes.

"We don't have any (changes) in mind, but I am not going to give an iron-clad guarantee in relation to that," he said. 

Under the changes, foreshadowed in The Age last month, the number of families and individuals qualifying for help is projected to drop from 1.9 million last year to about 1.5 million in 2006, according to Government figures.

The backflip is a public humiliation for Health Minister Tony Abbott, who last year gave an "absolutely rock-solid, ironclad commitment" that the safety net would remain unchanged.

ABC Radio The World Today, 27 April 2005:

ELEANOR HALL: Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott's comments on the possible budget cutback to Medicare-funded IVF treatments have prompted a leading IVF specialist to speak out.
Dr David Molloy says he's stunned by the minister's assertion there has to be "some limit" on the funds the Government is prepared to spend on elective and non-essential procedures like IVF.
And he warns that Mr Abbott has just opened up a whole new argument on the future of Medicare and the procedures it will fund. 

The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 February 2014:

Health Minister Peter Dutton has also signalled that Medicare could be means-tested with access to bulk-billing and medical tests such as X-rays, blood tests limited to those on lower incomes, in a News Corp report.
Mr Dutton questioned why those on higher incomes should be able to go to the doctor ''for free'' and said it was ''one of the discussions . . . we have to have''.

Australian Parliamentary LibraryBudget Review 2014–15 Index:

Patient co-payment

A $7 patient co-payment on bulk-billed general practice (GP) visits, and out-of-hospital pathology and diagnostic imaging services, will apply from 1 July 2015. In addition, the MBS rebate for these services will be cut by $5, regardless of whether they are bulk billed.[1] For concession card holders and children under 16, the rebate reduction will only apply for the first 10 visits a year, after which the full MBS rebate will apply.[2] Certain MBS services, such as Health Assessments and Chronic Disease Management items will be quarantined from the co-payment. Savings of $3.5 billion over five years will be used to fund a new Medical Research Future Fund.
The imposition of the co-payment is to ensure all patients contribute to the cost of their health care.

Under current Medicare arrangements doctors are free set their own fees, but those who choose to bulk bill accept the MBS rebate as full payment for the service and cannot charge a co-payment. The rebate for out-of-hospital services is 85 per cent of the Medicare Schedule Fee, but GP services attract a 100 per cent rebate.[3] Under this measure, doctors will have the discretion to charge a co-payment of $7 for bulk billed and other services, but their Medicare rebate will also be reduced by $5. This means they will be worse off each time they bulk bill unless they impose the co-payment…..

Other savings

Savings of $99.2 million over the forward estimates will also be achieved by lowering the MBS rebate for optometry services (from 85 to 80 per cent of the Schedule fee), and removing a charging cap. The time period for Medicare rebatable eye examinations will also be extended from two to three years for asymptomatic people under 65, and reduced from two to one year for those over 65.

National Rural Health Alliance Briefing Paper, The future of Medicare, February 2015:


Under the original version of the Abbott Government's proposed co-payment, patients would have been charged a co-payment of $7 per visit to the GP, and for each episode of pathology testing and diagnostic imaging. The co-payment was to be waived for concession card holders after 10 visits, offering them some protection against high out of pocket costs.

In the next iteration of the proposal, the Government made the co-payment optional (the decision being left to the GP) but also proposed to reduce the Medicare rebate by $5 for short consultations. It expected some GPs to 'choose to recoup the $5 rebate reduction through an optional co-payment'. In order to protect vulnerable people, the Government proposed to keep in place incentives that encourage GPs to bulk-bill concession card holders and children under 16.

Subsequently, the Government proposed changes to the funding rules for GP consultations along with substantial rebate reductions for short (Level A) consultations; the changes were meant to discourage 'six-minute medicine'. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) complained that the changes would disadvantage experienced and efficient GPs, and would exacerbate problems with timely access to care. It also pointed out that the costs (of the rebate reduction) would likely be passed on to patients. Because of the outcry from health, community service and rights-based interest groups (including the medical profession) over these proposed changes, the Government is now consulting with the sector. However it appears to be committed to bulk-billing only for 'vulnerable' and concessional patients.

The Government's intention to move away from pursuing high bulk-billing rates is an important change in policy direction and its implications for Medicare, and the principles it was founded on, need to be closely examined. In our view, restricting bulk-billing only to vulnerable patients would be a retrograde step. It is vital that the cost of care does not prevent people from using primary care services. However there is evidence that this is already happening….

The importance of keeping Medicare universal

Medicare was designed to provide Australians with universal access to high-quality health care regardless of where they live, or their ability to pay. It was not designed to be a safetynet scheme for those without the means to pay for private insurance, nor was it meant to compete in the market alongside private health insurers. When past governments have experimented with reforms to health insurance along these lines, they found that the results were disappointing. Rather than helping to constrain expenditure on health, opt-out versions of Medicare made it more difficult to contain health care costs because the anticipated benefits of competition - lower prices - did not materialise in the insurance or medical markets.

Because it is financed through taxation, Medicare provides an equitable means of paying for health care. Those with greater means contribute more through our progressive taxation system and help cover the health care costs of those with less. The facility to leverage larger contributions towards the cost of health care from those on higher incomes already exists under Medicare. As a result, less equitable policies, such as compulsory co-payments, are unnecessary in the Australian context.

We believe that the universal nature of Medicare embodies the Australian spirit of 'a fair go for all'. Not only does the principle of universality reflect our past and our values, it also provides an efficient and equitable means of funding access to health care. For these reasons, we oppose any reforms that undermine the universal nature of Medicare and seek to transform it into a safety net scheme for the poor. Instead, we urge the Government to look for alternative means of protecting the sustainability of Medicare: changes that will preserve both equity and efficiency.

SBS News, 28 December 2015:

Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler says the removal of items from the Medicare Benefits Schedule could lead to higher out-of-pocket costs for patients.
Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley announced on Monday 23 tests and procedures, including ear, nose and throat surgeries and diagnostic imaging, have been recommended for removal as part of a major shake up of Medicare.
Ms Ley said in a statement the 23 items, which also include gastroenterology, obstetrics and thoratic medicine services, cost $6.8 million in the past year and were used 52,500 times….
He said some patients would be left out-of-pocket as some of the items recommended for removal were part of other procedures or were used for very specific circumstances.

The West Australian, 9 February 2016:

Medicare, pharmaceutical and aged-care benefits would be delivered by the private sector under an extraordinary transformation of health services being secretly considered by the Federal Government.

The West Australian has learnt that planning for the ambitious but politically risky outsourcing of government payments is well-advanced, with a view to making it a key feature of Treasurer Scott Morrison’s first Budget in May.

To be put to the market a few weeks later, the $50 billion-plus outsourcing would be the first time the private sector has delivered a national service subsidised by the government.

It would replace back-office operations done by bureaucrats.

They would administer claims and payments while overseeing eligibility criteria, meaning they would require access to people’s sensitive private information.

Doctors would also have to open their books to the provider, , which would be subject to regulatory oversight.

The payment system task force run by bureaucrat John Cahill is believed to have proposed a “proof of concept” trial next year. It would require companies being selected this year.

Australia Post, eftpos providers, Telstra and the big banks are showing interest given they have online payment and supply structures.

Foreign multinationals may also bid including Serco, Fuji-Xerox and Accenture. When former treasurer Joe Hockey flagged outsourcing Medicare payments in 2014, the Community and Public Sector Union warned of thousands of job losses. The Australian Medical Association has also spoken against the privatisation of Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Within a fortnight, accountants Ernst & Young, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, McKinsey, Deloitte and Boston Consulting and will lodge bids to design the business case for the potential privatisation.

Though it would come with a short-term cost — possibly billions of dollars — to rebuild data and payment systems, the Government believes it would recoup much more later….

Labor Herald, 29 April 2016:

More than half a million Australians have signed a petition opposing the Turnbull government’s $650m cuts to Medicare, sending a clear warning to Malcolm Turnbull: hands off our Medicare.

ABC News, 3 May 2016:

Health experts say many of the budget measures will mean patients are worse-off.
Consumers Health Forum chief executive Leanne Wells said the Government's move to freeze Medicare rebates over the next three years could potentially increase the pressure on GPs to drop bulk billing and charge additional fees.
"The vote of a future Senate could also mean a range of fresh out-of-pocket costs, including a $5 rise in the co-payment for prescribed medicines and cutting of the $630 million in bulk-billing incentives to pathologists and radiologists," Ms Wells said.
"These measures will discourage the sort of reform we need to support a primary health care system that would improve care for those with chronic and complex illness."

Within weeks of its election in 2013 the Coalition entertained a proposal from a former advisor to Tony Abbott as health minister to end free visits to the doctor by requiring a mandatory co-payment of $6. Anyone who didn't like it would be invited to take out private health gap insurance.

Its Commission of Audit recommended a co-payment of $15 per visit and $5 per concession card holder, and then its first budget announced that "previously bulk-billed patients can expect to contribute $7 towards to cost of standard consultations." Medicare Rebates would be cut by $5 and bulk billing incentives would "only be paid to providers when they collect the $7 patient contribution". It encouraged public hospitals to charge public patients who walked in off the street in order to stem the leakage from doctors.

Seven months later Abbott dumped the $7 co-payment and replaced it with a $5 co-payment, all of which was to come from doctors, also abandoning that a few months later. Then he announced plans to slash the Medicare Rebate for short visits from $37.05 to $16.95, also abandoning that a few weeks later.

In his second budget he extended an existing one-year freeze on the Medicare Rebates by a further five years to 2020. By then doctors incomes would have fallen 15 per cent relative to other incomes unless they abandoned bulk billing.

And he booked a budget saving of $57 billion over 10 years by lifting grants to states for running hospitals by much less than the cost of running them, a good deal of which is still baked in to the Turnbull government's budget numbers.

Within a year of taking office he called for expressions of interest from the private sector in running the $29 billion Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme claims system. Among the Australian firms that are believed to have responded are Eftpos, Australia Post and Telstra offshoot Stellar. Among the foreign companies are British services giant Serco, which provides immigration detention centre services, Japanese-US technology giant Fuji-Xerox, German software house SAP and US professional services firm Accenture.

Malcolm Turnbull went into the election campaign continuing to defend the outsourcing option, only to abandon it on Q&A after it came to be conflated with privatisation.

The scare campaign worked because Medicare's supporters were already scared.

@otiose94, 5 July 2016


A little more history on the subject……

The Conversation, 5 July 2016

The Whitlam government’s Medibank program, the predecessor of Medicare, faced furious opposition from the Liberals and (then) Country Party. Allied with the Australian Medical Association, the conservative opposition fought the introduction of universal health insurance, blocking it in the Senate.

The Medibank legislation was forced through parliament in 1974 after a double dissolution election and the only joint sitting of both houses of Parliament. Even then, a rearguard High Court action invalidated crucial funding legislation. As a result of this resistance, Medibank was introduced in July 1975, only four months before the dismissal of the Whitlam government.

The Fraser Coalition government initially kept its promise to preserve Medibank. But through a series of complicated “reforms”, Fraser kept the name, but gradually turned the remnants into a means tested “welfare” system. In 1981 Medibank was abolished completely and Australia returned to the patchy and chaotic coverage of subsidised private health insurance.

This pattern of hostility was replicated against the Hawke government’s Medicare, which was introduced in 1984. For the next decade, Coalition politicians promised to set Australians free from the shackles of compulsory national health insurance.

The electorate was unimpressed. The low point of these attempts to replace universal coverage came with Peter Shack, the Liberal shadow health minister, admitting he had no workable policy going into the 1990 election:

“I want to say with all the frankness I can muster, the Liberal and National Parties do not have a particularly good track record in health, and you don’t need me to remind you of our last period in government.”

Coalition hostility to Medicare played a big part in Labor’s very successful scare campaign in the 1993 “GST” election. The John Hewson-led opposition promised to end bulk billing and restore the supremacy of private insurance. Analysts have determined the Medicare issue as more important than the GST in Keating’s triumph.

This sorry tale appeared to end in 1996. John Howard, heading for a Coalition landslide, reassured voters that not only would his government be “relaxed and comfortable”, but he recognised the error of attacking Medicare. He declared Australians “want Medicare kept” and pledged that “Medicare will remain totally in place under a Coalition government”…..

Howard froze the level of GP rebates (fees) in the 1996 budget. This slowly squeezed GP incomes, forcing many to abandon bulk billing and charge upfront fees. Whether intentional or not, the decline of bulk billing revived old fears of Coalition intentions towards Medicare.

By 2003 the issue was hurting the government so badly, a new health minister, Tony Abbott, came in with an open cheque book to end the crisis. Even then, new bulk billing incentives were aimed selectively at children and pensioners. Howard argued:

“it was never the design [of Medicare] … to guarantee bulk billing for every citizen.”

An extension of this “safety net” argument was a commitment to private health insurance. Both the Fraser and Howard governments tried to force higher-income earners into private insurance. The Howard government subsidised private insurance – but kept it largely to coverage of hospital and specialist services, maintaining Medicare’s monopoly over GP services.

The Abbott government’s Commission of Audit ended this truce. It argued that:

“Expanded private health insurance coverage should be introduced for basic health services currently covered by Medicare. Higher-income earners should be required to insure for basic health services in place of Medicare.”

Political commentator Nikki Savva has argued the Commission’s position shocked Abbott and he ignored most of its recommendations. However, it is not surprising that when his government attempted to bring in new GP co-payments (a Commission recommendation), these were read as part of a fundamental assault on Medicare principles of bulk billing and universality.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Polling blues for Team Turnbull at the end of Week 4 of the 2016 Australian Federal election campaign

It suggests voters are now genuinely considering throwing out a first-term federal government - an event that has not occurred since the dark days of the 1930s depression….

The nationwide phone survey of 1359 residents taken from Tuesday to Thursday , put Labor ahead on 51-49 after preferences, and showed Mr Turnbull's approval continuing to slide towards negative territory after record highs last November. His net approval now stands at plus-3 points - barely inside positive territory - against Bill Shorten who is unchanged on minus-6…..

If replicated at the election on July 2, the 49 per cent return for the Coalition would be the equivalent of a massive 4.5 per cent swing against it - enough to see it bundled from office in a humiliating defeat costing it as many as 23 seats.

While locally The Daily Examiner reported on the odds in the seat of Page, 3 June 2016:

THE BOOKIES are giving the seat of Page to the ALP less than a month out from the Federal election.
Online bookmaking firm has the incumbent, the Nationals' Kevin Hogan, drifting out $1.30 favouritism to $2.15 and Labor's Janelle Saffin firming to $1.65 from $3.50 at the start of the campaign..
The bookmaker says the majority of punter support has been for Saffin, who was the Member for Page from 2007 -2013, with 5:6 bets heading her way.
The Greens have also been wound out from $16 to $51, with not a single bet coming for Kudra Falla-Ricketts.
Minor party candidates Bethany McAlpine, Mark Ellis and Anna Ludvick are all priced at $34 after being wound out from $26.
"Kevin Hogan was considered a lock-in for Page before Malcolm Turnbull called the election, but punters have turned," said's Ben Bulmer.
"Janelle Saffin, who started the campaign as the outsider, is now the punters pick and the clear favourite to win back the seat."

Friday, 20 May 2016

Federal MP Stuart Robert channelled $70,000 from his Liberal Nationals Party campaign fund to three local government candidates

This was MP for Fadden Stuart Robert, the then Australian Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister for Human Services newly appointed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, on 28 November 2015:

Fast forward to May 2016 and this is the Member for Fadden.

The Australian, 3 May 2016:

Sacked Turnbull cabinet minister Stuart Robert secretly bankrolled the campaigns of three independent council candidates on the Gold Coast, fuelling calls for his disendorsement by the Liberal National Party on the eve of the federal election.

The funnelling of at least $70,000 out of Mr Robert’s LNP branch fundraising arm, the Fadden Forum, into the campaigns of the independents before March 31 local government elections has already led to the ­demotion of LNP state director Lincoln Folo.

Mr Robert, under investigation by the Australian Federal Police over a 2014 trip to China with a donor friend, may have breached party rules by directing the LNP funds to the independents without the approval of his branch.

It is understood Malcolm Turnbull is aware of the emerging scandal after a meeting of the LNP’s state executive ­decided not to take any action against Mr Robert, who holds the Gold Coast seat of Fadden, despite internal calls for his disendorsement.

Instead, Mr Folo — who made the transfers at the behest of Mr Robert — was removed last month as state director and appointed campaign director in a move the LNP has publicly claimed was part of plan to split the roles because of growing ­administrative duties.

LNP state president Gary Spence yesterday defended the decision to keep Mr Robert as the LNP’s endorsed candidate despite conceding the transfer of the LNP supporters’ funds to the independents was “inappropriate’’……..

The funds were given to John Brent, the now-ousted long-serving mayor of the Scenic Rim Regional Council on the Gold Coast hinterland, and newly elected Gold Coast independent councillor Kristyn Boulton.

Mr Brent yesterday confirmed his campaign was given $10,000, while Ms Boulton — who refused to confirm or deny if Mr Robert had supported her campaign — is understood to have received $30,000.

A third independent candidate on the Gold Coast, who was ­unsuccessful at the election, ­received $30,000 but did not ­return calls yesterday…….

Gold Coast Bulletin, 6 May 2016:

INDEPENDENT Gold Coast City Council candidates Kristyn Boulton and Felicity Stevenson did not reveal the $60,000 in LNP donations they received through Federal MP Stuart Robert when confronted by voters and rivals during the election.

Candidates in their divisions have also told the Gold Coast Bulletin they were intimidated by a volunteer at a pre-polling booth if they told voters the LNP was bankrolling or backing the party workers.

Mr Robert, for the first time, yesterday revealed he told his former office workers in early February that they would be getting financial backing from his rich fundraising arm, the Fadden Forum, to beat Labor rivals.

“I’m fighting Labor. I now have an interest. I will provide you with some support,” he said.

But Facebook posts, community debates and verbal exchanges at the pre-polling booths by early March show neither Ms Boulton nor Ms Stevenson told anyone their biggest financial backer was their former boss.

On February 18 on Facebook, Ms Stevenson wrote: “Honesty and transparency are important so I thank you for contacting me to ask these questions. I am funding my campaign from my own savings and local supporters.

“I have recieved (sic) no funding from developers. I am not a member of any political party. I have not received funding from any political party.”…….

ABC News, 17 May 2016:

Gold Coast City councillors and their financial backers are under scrutiny by state and federal authorities following allegations of undisclosed Liberal National Party (LNP) funding of candidates in the March local elections.

It comes after revelations federal Liberal MP Stuart Robert channelled tens of thousands of dollars from his national LNP campaign fund, the Fadden Forum, to council candidates who stood as independents.

Mr Robert has confirmed he gave candidates Kristyn Boulton and Felicity Stevenson $30,000 each from the Fadden Forum to run their campaigns.
Both are former staffers in Mr Robert's electorate office.

Queensland law was changed in 2007 following a corruption inquiry into the 2004 Gold Coast elections, creating three categories of candidates: independents, groups and political parties.
All candidates must now declare their status, with heavy fines for failing to disclose which type applies.

There are now calls for a broad inquiry into the conduct of this year's local election on the Gold Coast, which has the second-largest council in Australia after Brisbane, with an annual budget of more than $1 billion.

By law, council candidates are not obliged to disclose details of their financial backing until weeks after the election. The deadline in this case is July 4…….
The Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) said that "in light of the allegations and reports" it would "inquire into the activities" of the Fadden Forum once the disclosure deadline expired.

"If candidates are running as a group, as defined under the LGEA, then they must declare their membership of that group," the ECQ said in a statement to 7.30.
"Candidates cannot work together to promote themselves or fundraise during the election unless they register as a group with the returning officer."

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) told 7.30 it, too, would look into the matter after it was raised in Senate estimates this month.

"The AEC will undertake appropriate inquiries to determine whether there has been a breach of disclosure requirements by any of the parties mentioned," it said…….

It has also emerged that as many as five or more candidates may have used an LNP-linked lobbyist and former public relations adviser to Mayor Tom Tate, Simone Holzapfel, for campaign advice and support, giving rise to questions about their connections.

7.30 has established that Cr Tate, Division 7 Councillor and former mayor Gary Baildon, and Division 12 Councillor Pauline Young all used Ms Holzapfel's services.
All three deny acting as a bloc.

Planning committee chairman and Division 3 Councillor, Cameron Caldwell, told 7.30 he had received no donation or gift in kind from Ms Holzapfel but declined to comment on whether she had worked on his campaign.

Cr Boulton, who was elected in Division 4, was reported in the Gold Coast Bulletin as having received Ms Holzapfel's help, but she did not respond to 7.30's requests for comment.

Mr Robert's former staffer Felicity Stevenson, who was not elected, and former president of the Young LNP and Division 11 Councillor Hermann Vorster — who had campaigning support from Young LNP volunteers — also did not respond……

Ms Holzapfel was previously a staffer in former prime minister Tony Abbott's office when he was health minister in the Howard government.

Her clients have included developers ASF, which wants to develop a cruise ship terminal on the Gold Coast and Sunland, which has plans for a 44-storey twin tower scheme on undeveloped beachfront land at The Spit.

Ms Holzapfel reportedly donated $114,000 to the Fadden Forum in 2013 in multiple small amounts, although this does not appear in publicly available disclosure documents.

7.30 has no evidence that either Ms Holzapfel or the candidates acted improperly.

The Fadden Forum does not make separate disclosures of its activities to electoral authorities as electoral watchdogs consider it to be part of the LNP…….

Surrounded by political scandals and allegations of wrongdoing as he is, an ordinary person might have thought that the Turnbull Government would quietly distance itself from him.

However, there was Treasurer Scott Morrison with Stuart Robert on 17 May 2016 – the ninth day of the federal election campaign:


This 19 May 2016 front page says it all about the Robert attempt to install what could be suspected to be political glove puppets.....