Saturday, February 12, 2011

Short cut to public hospital efficiency

By Dr Jeremy Sammut

After the irrelevancies of the silly season (‘Should Julia have worn the pants-suit to the flood emergency?’) it’s a relief that the focus is about to switch back to the core business of government – public administration.

According to last Saturday’s Weekend Australian, Prime Minister Gillard will simplify Kevin Rudd’s hospital reform plan at next week’s Council of Australian Government meeting.

If the report was correct, the Commonwealth will no longer become the ‘majority funder’ of public hospitals.

Instead of paying for 60 per cent of the ‘efficient’ price of each public hospital services, the Commonwealth will only pay for 40 per cent of efficient price. Because no significant increase in Commonwealth health spending will be needed to fund the new federal payment system, Canberra will not have to claw back 30 per cent of the state’s GST revenue.

The Department of Treasury is said to have been closely involved in the re-jigging of the government’s policy. There is much to recommend the modifications.

The efficient cost is to be determined by an independent national hospital pricing authority. Setting a national price is a very complex task. But this was always the best feature of the Rudd Plan because financial transparency and accountability will be promoted.

When federal funding is exclusively delivered at the efficient price, state governments will either have to cut the waste and reform their bureaucratic hospital systems, or bear the extra cost of providing hospital services inefficiently.

What Treasury seems to have realised is that this policy outcome can be achieved unilaterally, simply by converting existing federal funding into an ‘efficient’ payment. A looming brawl with state premiers over the allocation of the GST can be entirely avoided.

The revised approach broadly resembles the National Competition Policy of the 1990s, which also used federal payments to promote market-based reform in government utilities.

The goals here are not as ambitious in terms of structural reform – no one is yet talking about privatising public hospitals.

But during an era when billions of taxpayer’s dollars are blithely wasted on batts and broadband, any policy which supports the efficient use of scarce resources is a welcome change for the better.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 11 Feb. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

Law lets NSW private schools expel homosexual students

A SENIOR Anglican bishop calls it "appalling" and a gay and lesbian rights group condemns it as "deeply offensive", but the Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, backs a NSW law that allows private schools to expel gay students simply for being gay.

Through a spokesman, Mr Hatzistergos, described the 30-year-old law as necessary "to maintain a sometimes delicate balance between protecting individuals from unlawful discrimination while allowing people to practise their own beliefs".

A relic of the Wran era when homosexuality was still a crime, the law exempts private schools from any obligation to enrol or deal fairly with students who are homosexual. An expulsion requires neither disruption, harassment nor even the flaunting of sexuality. Being homosexual is enough.

Introducing the little-known law in the early 1980s, the then attorney-general Paul Landa told Parliament: "The facts of political life require acceptance of the claim of churches to conduct autonomous educational institutions with a special character and faith commitment."

But the churches are now divided. The Anglican bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, told the Herald: "I don't think our schools would want to use it."

The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney declined to distance itself from the legislation. A spokeswoman said: "The focus for our schools has always been on supporting our students regardless of the circumstances."

Political support may also be fracturing. "It is an unusual provision in this day and age," the shadow attorney-general, Greg Smith, told the Herald.

He cannot speak for his party, only himself. "I personally think it is something that should be reviewed, looked at with a view to perhaps changing it. Times have changed."

The chief executive of ACON, Nicolas Parkhill, condemned the law as "deeply offensive, patently unethical and damaging to our society on multiple levels. Recent research shows that young same-sex-attracted people are up to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers and that 80 per cent of the verbal or physical abuse they experience occurs in schools.

"Allowing religious schools to reinforce this negative experience by giving them the right to expel the victims of homophobic attitudes is incomprehensible."

Although "not untroubled" by the legislation himself, the chief executive of Christian Schools Australia, Stephen O'Doherty, told the Herald the 130-plus low-fee schools in his association saw no reason to ditch the law. Many of the schools regard unrepentant gay students as "disruptive to the religious teaching of the school", he explained. "What we seek to do is to be able to take appropriate action which may include expulsion."

Brigadier Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby has no qualms about the law. The head of the influential Christian pressure group said a church school should have the right to expel any openly gay child.

"But I would expect any church that found itself in that situation to do that in the most loving way that it could for the child and to reduce absolutely any negative affects.

"I think that you explain: this is a Christian school, that unless the child is prepared to accept that it is chaste, that it is searching for alternatives as well, that the school may decide that it might be better for the child as well that he goes somewhere else. I think it's a loving response."


More "stimulus" waste

As car parks go, the new federally funded one in Fisher Street, Cabramatta, is definitely five-star: clad entirely in native hardwood inlaid with images of porpoises, set in landscaped gardens and topped with a 200-panel solar system feeding into the grid.

There is only thing missing: cars, with not even an oil stain marking any of the 172 pristine, polished concrete bays.

Charles Gream, a local resident, took daily photographs of the electronic display that listed the number of available spaces and confirmed its accuracy with a quick walk through, before the display was turned off recently.

"I reckon it's running at about 3 per cent," he said. "Without a doubt it's the most car-free part of Cabramatta."

The solution to this, says Fairfield Council, is to build more car parks. It has promised two, including one the mayor and local state Labor MP, Nick Lalich, hopes RailCorp will build for commuters on the site of the Cabramatta Inn.

It is not clear why RailCorp would build a car park when the federal Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese, said the Fisher Street car park was built for commuters who are parking in local streets rather than paying charges of up to $20 a day.

When the council announced in 2009 it was going to use $5.6 million from the federal government's economic stimulus package to help build the car park, locals predicted it would be a white elephant. Fisher Street is east of the rail line, 500 metres from Cabramatta's shopping district west of the line, where parking is in short supply.

The council insisted at the time that stimulus funding was available only if it began work on the car park within six months and Fisher Street was the only site available for a quick start.

A spokesman for Mr Albanese said yesterday that the location and success of the car park was a matter for the council.

He denied the $5.6 million the government committed was stimulus funding, although Mr Albanese's press release from 2009 said "through the Rudd government's economic stimulus package, we are investing in major projects like this".

The project is listed on the government's Nation Building economic stimulus plan and there is a sign on the car park stating that it is funded as part of the economic stimulus plan. But Mr Albanese's spokesman was adamant: "It's not stimulus money," he said.

With car parking a hot issue in the state election, the Liberal candidate for the seat of Cabramatta, Dai Le, called on the council to immediately allow the Fisher Street car park to become a fully operational free commuter car park.


Cameron is right, and multiculturalism has failed

Some relevant facts from Australia

Andrew Bolt

HOW mad has multiculturalism made us? Dangerously so, when it’s had us financing even an Osama bin Laden fan club.

Let me tell you of this perfect example of all that’s wrong with multiculturalism, a policy to sponsor what divides us.

Then you might understand why the speech British Prime Minister David Cameron gave last week, demanding an end to the great multiculturalism disaster, must be heard here, too.

The Islamic Youth Movement used to meet in Australia’s biggest mosque, the one in Lakemba presided over by Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, for years the Mufti of Australia, despite praising suicide bombers, backing the Hezbollah terrorist group, calling the September 11 attacks “God’s work against oppressors” and saying uncovered Australian girls invited rape.

Among its activities, the IYM published a magazine called Call to Islam, edited by Bilal Khazal.

In it appeared fawning interviews with members of some of the world’s worst terrorist groups, including the one that bombed the World Trade Centre in 1993 and another that killed 58 tourists in Luxor, Egypt.

It even interviewed—and praised—al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, who’d already declared war on the West and was planning his September 11 attacks on the United States.

It also published articles by extremists such as its translator, Keysar Trad, now head of the Islamic Friendship Association, who wrote: “The criminal dregs of white society colonised this country, and now, they only take the select choice of other societies, and the descendants of these criminal dregs tell us that they are better than us.”

Now here’s how our government-funded prophets of multiculturalism and their fellow travellers dealt with this hotbed of imported hate and us-against-them separatism.

Khazal’s youth movement was not punished (at first), but given three government grants. Two were multicultural grants totalling nearly $7000 from the NSW Government, to teach its supporters not English but Arabic.

The other was a federal work-for-the-dole grant to spruce up its office and arrange its library of propaganda.

Yes, true. How perfectly multicultural. Here were our multicultural commissars, so broad-minded, encouraging young Muslim Australians to keep their distance, speak Arabic, loathe their new home and recruit others for their jihad.

So tolerant of us. So insane.

In 2001, SBS, the multicultural broadcaster, filmed him [Hilai] in his mosque praising suicide bombers as “heroes” days before September 11.

Then came the terror attacks, and rather than show Australians proof that the ideology that had just killed 2985 people, including 10 Australians, was shared in at least part by our most prominent Muslim cleric, SBS destroyed the tape.

It would give us the “wrong idea”, it claimed. Which actually means the “right idea”—about Hilali, Islam in Australia and the multicultural project of which SBS is a beneficiary.

It is true that our politicians have quietly rowed back a bit already from the extremes of the multicultural policies they so stupidly inflicted on us.

Even the Gillard Government no longer has a minister for multicultural affairs, rebadging that position as Minister for Citizenship instead. Meanwhile, extremists are more likely to be shunned, and multicultural agencies proclaim loyalty to Australian values, even if they do little to promote them.

It’s taken Muslim immigration to break multiculturalism here as it has in both Britain and Germany, where the Chancellor, Angela Merkel, three months ago declared the policy had “failed, utterly failed”.

Whether I keep wearing my Dutch clogs and eating poffertjes—or wear R. M. Williams and eat pies—is entirely my personal business, and there’s no public benefit in a government grant to make me stay more “Dutch”.

Similarly, it’s no business of, say, the Victorian Government to encourage groups that are marked off along racial, ethnic or religious lines.

Yet watch it go, showering $10 million a year in multicultural grants on the Somaliland Society of Australia, Burmese Muslim Community Association, United Women’s Group of Liberia, Hellenic Writers’ Association, Mexican Social and Cultural Association, and 2000 more of their like.

Our governments’ most fundamental duty is not to keep a community divided into tribes, but to defend the shared values that are our only hope of making a one out of many.

So how about a little more loving for the things that unite us, whether it’s our history, symbols, institutions or traditional values?

More here


Paul said...

"The head of the influential Christian pressure group said a church school should have the right to expel any openly gay child.

"But I would expect any church that found itself in that situation to do that in the most loving way that it could for the child and to reduce absolutely any negative affects."

I have to presume this is a mis-quote. I can't believe even he would say something this ludicrous and expect to sound credible. You know God is fine and dandy but its his fan-club that scares the crap out of me sometimes.

Anonymous said...

In regard to the Multicultural grants, I have read widely that the International Socialists are hand in glove with Islam. They want chaos in western society so that they may achieve their aim of World Govt by the UN.
This may be the real reason that the Federal Socialist Govt is so generous to these groups many of them decidedly hostile to Western society..

Hopw stupid is that? The Socialist heads will be the first to roll!