Sunday, March 13, 2011

$56 billion for an unwanted broadband network but no money for infant vaccines?

A VACCINE that provides the best protection from potentially fatal infant pneumococcal disease has been deferred for children over one because of federal government cuts to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Parents will be forced to pay up to $150 to ensure toddlers are immunised against the potentially deadly infant pneumococcal disease because of a Budget crackdown on medicines.

Federal Cabinet last month approved Prevenar 13 to be listed on the PBS from April 1, but decided not to approve the "catch-up" dose for children previously immunised.

The catch-up program is designed to ensure children aged 12 to 35 months, who have received three doses of Prevenar 7 in their first year of life, are also offered the new vaccine that offers protection against more strains.

Medical experts have accused the Federal Government of "health rationing by stealth" after moves to restrict the number of drugs it subsidises until the Budget is back in surplus.

All prescription drugs recommended for listing on the PBS will have to jump an additional hurdle -- approval by Cabinet -- as part of a spending crackdown. Previously, only drugs recommended for listing that cost the Government more than $10 million a year were taken to Cabinet.

Cabinet has broken with tradition by not accepting the advice of its PBS advisory committee to list seven new drugs and a vaccine last month. It instead "deferred" a decision on the drugs, which include a painkiller and the pneumococcal vaccine.

Australian Medical Association federal vice-president Steven Hambleton said it was a case of "health rationing by stealth" and Cabinet should not intervene.

But Health Minister Nicola Roxon said: "Given the current difficult fiscal circumstances, I feel it is appropriate to subject all government decisions that have a fiscal impact to scrutiny."


Keneally orders destruction of documents

Typical Leftist secrecy. Leftism can't stand the light of day

New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally has directed public servants to destroy thousands of what are being described as potentially sensitive government documents. The Labor Government is expected to lose the March 26 election and has issued a directive to staffers about the careful handling of documents - whether they be stored, kept or destroyed.

Cabinet documents are excluded and are held for 30 years before being released.

Ms Keneally says she wants all documents to be handled properly. "I expect all public servants, be they in the bureaucracy or government advisers, to be following that direction," she said.

But the Opposition's Chris Hartcher says the normal convention is for all documents to be handed over to any incoming government. "It's not like a World War II movie where you destroy everything before the enemy take the fortress," he said. He says it is clear the Government is trying to cover its tracks rather than provide a smooth transition to new leadership.

Greens MP David Shoebridge says the Government has something to hide. "Where do you start? The reasons why they shut down the Parliament before Christmas, the reasons why we have those last-minute changes to planning in Barangaroo?" he said.


Prime Minister Julia Gillard's broken promises lose voter trust

JULIA Gillard's broken carbon tax promise has shattered voters' trust in the Prime Minister and she would be swept from office if an election were held this weekend.

Face-to-face interviews with 500 voters conducted by the Sunday Herald Sun in battleground electorates have revealed most voters say they can no longer trust Australia's first female PM.

Many fear her deal with the independents will produce bad government and bad policies, and worry Labor's carbon tax will reduce the standard of living.

But voters in the marginal electorates of Lindsay in NSW, La Trobe in Victoria, Moreton in Queensland, Boothby in South Australia and Hasluck in Western Australia failed to rate Tony Abbott highly, either, with most categorising his performance as "average", "too negative", "too aggressive" or "poor".

As the PM prepares to mark six months since she was sworn in after a cliffhanger election, the marginal-seats investigation finds support for Labor could have slumped as much as 7 per cent - a finding in line with this week's Newspoll showing Labor having a 30 per cent primary vote, the worst in the poll's history.

Up to 60 per cent of voters surveyed confirmed they did not trust Ms Gillard after the carbon tax promise.

The findings will deliver another blow to the Labor Party as it fights to sell the carbon tax, with voters complaining they can't trust a PM who pledged during the 2010 election campaign there would be "no carbon tax under the government I lead".

More than one in three voters rated Ms Gillard's performance as "lacklustre", "directionless" and "poor", with 37 per cent of voters giving her a mark of worse than "average".

Voters were split over the question of whether the Greens had too much influence, with 41.8 per cent convinced they did have too much say and 43 per cent not convinced they had too much influence.

On the impact of the deal with the independents, including Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, on good government, 37.8 per cent of voters said it had not delivered good policy outcomes, with only 23.6 per cent happy with the outcome. But 38.6 per cent said they didn't know.


Minchin ups stakes in carbon war

Senior Liberal Nick Minchin says the globe is more likely to be cooling than warming and has slammed the Government's key climate adviser, Ross Garnaut, as "on the Government's payroll".

Amid fierce debate about the Government's carbon tax plan, Professor Garnaut yesterday warned the scientific case for climate change had strengthened the position that the Earth is warming and that human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.

Senator Minchin - who led the Liberal Party's move to dump leader Malcolm Turnbull over his support for action over climate change - says Professor Garnaut, an economist, "knows nothing about the climate".

Speaking on Sky News, Senator Minchin said: "He's not a climate scientist. I don't think he has any authority whatsoever to speak on the climate".

While saying he respected Professor Garnaut, he said: "He's on the Government payroll, he's paid to ensure that the Government's desire to tax the hell out of us over this issue is substantiated by proclamations that the world is about to end".

Quoting a blog from an atmospheric scientist from the University of Alabama - whom he did not name - Senator Minchin said: "It's clear that the models, and we're dealing with models, have grossly overestimated the sensitivity of temperature to increases in CO2.

"I think what's occurred is that there was a warming period from about '75 to the year 2000. It was part of a natural cycle of warming that comes in 25, 30-year cycles. The world has basically stabilised in terms of temperature since about 2000. "There are many, many scientists who actually think we could be entering a cooling phase, and I for one think that is more than likely.

"We have stabilised in terms of world temperatures. There is a very powerful natural cycle at work, and if anything we're more likely to see a tendency down in global temperatures, rather than up."

On Thursday, Professor Garnaut released the fifth update to his 2008 report on climate change, specifically tackling climate science. He also released specific data on temperature, sea level rises and extreme events from recent years. "On the measurable phenomena, it does seem that certainly there's been no evidence of overstatement," he said.

"And it does seem to be a number of points of understatement, and I call that an awful reality because it would be much better if [the] opposite were true. "It would be much better if the evidence was showing the earlier signs had overstated things."

As the debate about a carbon tax heats up, an environmental economist has said it is a mistake for Australia to set a price for carbon before other countries do.

The Government's carbon tax will start in July next year and then morph into an emissions trading scheme, but the details of the tax and the amount of compensation are yet to be determined.

Australian National University Crawford School of Economics professor Jeff Bennett says the Government's policy will disadvantage local exporters, while other countries are lagging on the issue.

"The Prime Minister said we've got to do something or else we're going to be left behind - it's important to realise that first of all, very few countries around the world are doing much about this [pricing carbon]," he said. "And secondly, even if everybody did something about, if all nations in the world did what Australia's doing, still the impact on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would be so small, [it would] not have any real or meaningful impact on the pattern of climate across the planet.

"What that means is that the Australian economy is going to have this quite substantial cost imposed on it, with very little to show by way of benefit."


1 comment:

Paul said...

Been waiting for someone to publicly state the bleeding obvious about Garnaut.