Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Scandalous misuse of hospital beds

One would think that giving the "blockers" absolute priority to welfare housing would be an obvious step forward. But bureaucracy could thwart even that. Why does each client have to have a bureaucratic "plan"? Getting them into accomodations should be a first step, not a last step. Planning is all very well but when it leads to months of waste of precious resources it is idiocy. But idiocy is to be expected of Left and centrist governments

NDIS Minister Bill Shorten has launched an ambitious bid to free disabled people waiting an average of five months in hospital despite being medically ready for discharge, taking up more than a thousand sick beds unnecessarily and costing taxpayers up to $1bn each year.

Mr Shorten has challenged his agency to respond to disabled people within four days once alerted that they were ready to be discharged from hospital.

He also revealed plans to hire more NDIS staff to be stationed in hospitals and giving them the authority to make faster “on the spot” decisions to fast-track discharges.

Currently, NDIS participants are waiting 160 days on average for the National Disability ­Insurance Agency to get them out of hospitals, even though they have been deemed fit to leave.

Mr Shorten pointed to possible reasons behind the delays including bureaucracy or lack of appropriate accommodation.

The Australian has obtained exclusive details of the proposed Hospital Discharge Operational Plan, which shows that, of the 2328 NDIS participants in hospital, 1384 were medically ready for discharge.

Mr Shorten said the current wait times were “unacceptable” and costing the hospital system up to $3m a day. “If there’s 1500 people on average every night in Australia in a hospital when they could be in medium term or long-term accommodation elsewhere, if each person is costing north of $2000 a night for care that means every night in Australia $3m ticks over,” he said.

Of those NDIS participants ready for discharge, 451 were in NSW, 276 in Victoria, 258 in Queensland and 177 in WA. Most, or 735, had an NDIS interim plan while the other 649 were yet to receive one.

The Hospital Discharge plan is aimed at pressuring the NDIS into improving outcomes for disabled Australians, with Mr Shorten and his state counterparts setting a number of targets to fast-track the transfer of NDIS participants out of hospitals.

The targets include contacting a participant within four days of the agency being made aware they are medically fit to be discharged and getting their NDIS plan in place within 30 days, down from the current average of 80 days.

Mr Shorten said the targets and accompanying reporting framework would help reveal what was causing the long discharge delays.

“We’re going to set some goals,” he said. “Whether they’re realistic or not remains to be seen. These goals, to use a metaphor, are like a dye you might put in an MRI scan. I’m not saying we’ll achieve this overnight, or even in a year, but let’s find out where the obstacles are.

“Is it clunky bureaucracy? Is it a lack of long-term accommodation? Is it a lack of paid care and support teams within the community? Is it poor communication between hospitals and other departments? It could be all of the above, but let’s find out.”

Mr Shorten said the reporting framework, which would measure outcomes against the new targets, was about “keeping the system honest”.

“This data is not about blaming the states or feds, let’s just deal with the truth,” he said.

“The truth will show us what we’re not doing right.”

The operational plan would increase the number of Health Liaison Officers – which are NDIS staff offered to hospitals to assist their discharge teams – by more than 20 per cent by the end of September.

This will increase the number of HLOs from 33 to 40, with the aim of growing the pool of such staff over time.

NDIS hospital teams will also receive additional training and the authority to make decisions about home and living plan variations for participants on the spot.

Mr Shorten said the plan and its bold targets were intended to push the agency.

“I’ve challenged the agency to explain why we can’t achieve these standards,” he said.

“There may be good reasons but I want to understand why. It’s not good enough to shrug our shoulders and say ‘too hard’.”

Work is also being done between the Commonwealth and the states to ensure that, where a participant is not eligible for specialist disability accommodation, timely access to social housing can be sourced.

Mr Shorten said that while he believed there were vacancies in disability accommodation in some areas, he was worried that in places such as Tasmania and regional Australia the stock of places was “insufficient”.

Mr Shorten said the plan was aimed at improving good will not only between Australians with disabilities and the agency, but between the Commonwealth and states as well.

However, he maintained states and territories needed to do more in supporting disabled Australians. “I still think states aren’t paying enough towards NDIS,” he said.


Renewables push won’t bring down Australian power prices any time soon

Last week in parliament, Anthony Albanese attempted to explain how electricity prices were determined in this country: “It is not real­ly rocket science. You don’t need an economics degree … to know that if the market changes from a more expensive level of energy to a cheaper level of energy, you get cheaper energy prices … That is why (Australians) got solar panels on their roofs.”

It may as well be rocket science for the Prime Minister because he clearly doesn’t understand how electricity prices are set or the irrelevance of the example of the installation of small-scale solar panels by households.

It is the case that households are subsidised to install rooftop solar panels, with the precise arrangements varying from state to state. They are then further subsidised through generous feed-in tariffs for any surplus electricity that is fed back into the grid. These subventions are paid for by taxpayers and other electricity consumers without solar panels.

The households that got in early have done the best, with some of the most generous deals being grandfathered by state governments. Those that have taken up the offer to install solar panels recently have done less well. After taking account of the capital expenditure and the fact panels don’t last very long and can be unreliable, they offer a reasonable but not excessive return.

Most households with solar panels remain connected to the grid: after all, the sun goes down and there can be cloudy and wet days. While some have invested in small battery storage, this is an expensive option, although it is further subsidised in some juris­dic­tions such as South Australia.

Electricity retailers charge a service charge as well as a tariff based on usage. Across time, we should expect this service charge to grow proportionately as the penetration of solar panels increases further. In effect, this is the option price for customers for remaining connected to the grid. Albanese is correct that Australians have been encouraged to install solar panels because of the possibility of saving money on their bills. Where he is astray is to think this is an efficient way to reduce emissions as part of a climate change policy.

Abatement costs per tonne of CO2 are very high for these sorts of small-scale efforts relative to all other measures. And these types of subsidies are a case of Robin Hood in reverse – wealthier households with their own freestanding homes are effectively subsidised by other households, including renters and those living in apartments.

Let me return to how electricity prices are determined in the national electricity market, which links five states and the ACT. Albanese is adamant “renewables are the cheapest form of new energy” and “that we stand by our modelling”. But electricity is not like the market for most goods. Shifting up the supply curve at certain times of the day won’t necessarily reduce the overall price paid by consumers. Supply must meet demand at all times, 24 hours a day, every day. It is the marginal supplier that determines the price at any point, with suppliers bidding into the market and the operator ensuring the market clears.

What has emerged recently, as the penetration of large-scale renewable energy has risen, is large variations in the wholesale price of electricity across the day. On sunny and windy days, the price can be low, sometime negative, during the day, but the price shoots up at night when the sun sets and the wind often dies down. At this point, renewable energy is not useful and only reliable or firming generation (coal, gas, hydro) can be used to meet demand.

Another feature of the electricity market is that these diurnal variations in the price undermine the economics of firming generation, particularly coal. Because coal-fired plants operate on a continuous basis, the losses they incur during the day need to be offset by profits made at other times for them to stay in business. But with many plants ageing and the price of coal rising steeply, the likely effect of more renewable energy is to hasten the exit of plants, which puts upward pressure on electricity prices. Indeed, the higher the penetration of renewable energy, the greater the increase in prices unless new reasonably priced firming capacity quickly enters the market.

Californians are struggling to escape a scorching heatwave, as the state's power grid operator raised an…
Gas-peaking plants are an obvious answer but the price of gas is high and rising.

It is why there is much discussion and some investment in large-scale batteries. The trouble is that we have not reached the point of achieving economic, long-duration batteries – they can provide power for only a few hours. Given the shortage of minerals needed for construction of these batteries, the outlook for batteries to counterbalance the inherent intermittency of renewable energy is highly uncertain.

It is also why the Snowy 2.0 project is important because it provides a substantial source of storage that can be used to firm supply. But the costs and timeline of this project have blown out and 2027 looks like the earliest starting date. While there are investigations being initiated on other possible pumped-hydro projects, they are unlikely to make any difference for years.

The federal government also is placing much store by additional investment in transmission as a way of connecting far-flung renewable energy projects to the grid and potentially adding to the reliability of renewables generation. There are numerous problems with this solution, including that regulated transmission lines earn a guaranteed rate of return for owners and the price of transmission simply flows to consumers. Transmission and distribution costs amount to 40 per cent of the retail price, with the wholesale price another 25 per cent and the remainder mainly the retail margin.

The bottom line is our Prime Minister, even with his economics degree, has a lot to learn about electricity prices. The average wholesale price in the June quarter was triple the level of a year ago and the Australian Energy Regulator predicts prices will stay high for years. Retail customers are about to be hit with much higher bills. Elsewhere, the higher the penetration of renewable energy, the higher are electricity prices: think Denmark and California.

Albanese and Energy Minister Chris Bowen quickly need to walk back from their pledge that average household electricity bills will fall by $275 a year. It also would be useful if they acknowledged that pushing more renewable energy into the system as well as subsidising unpopular new transmission lines are not magic bullets. State energy ministers should take note.


Government moves to address housing crisis as 1,000 people relocate to Queensland each week

Freeing up the market is what is needed but that won't happen. Leftist governments are incapable of letting go

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will stage a summit to address the state's growing housing crisis, amid calls to have every Queenslander in a home by 2032.

An initial roundtable will take place on Friday, ahead of the Queensland Housing Summit to be held in October.

"Nothing is more important than having a roof over your head — it's a basic need – and the stories of people without secure housing are heartbreaking," Ms Palaszczuk said.

Ms Palaszczuk said the state would consider "all options" raised during the roundtable and summit. "I want Queenslanders to understand I recognise that this is an issue," Ms Palaszczuk said. "There will be key actions that come out of it.

"It is a shock to see people living out of their cars or not being housed but this is a big job. "We've been thinking about [how to address] it for a while and I think tackling it in two stages is the right way."

"Nothing is off the table and we don't pretend to have all the ideas."

"By the 2032 Olympics every Queenslander should have a place they can call home.

"Right now, working Queenslanders and families are living in tents, women and children are returning to domestic violence relationships, and elderly people are sleeping on couches, because there is nowhere for them to go."

Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said the LNP welcomed the summit and would attend, if invited. "We want to make sure that there's KPIs set and that they're met," he said. "Queenslanders living in their cars and tents deserve this to be more than a talkfest … there needs to be action."

Housing pressure driven by mass interstate migration

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the housing pressure was being driven by mass interstate migration, with about 1,000 people moving to Queensland each week. "We expect this population growth to continue for the foreseeable future," Mr Miles said.

"The stories of single mums, sleeping in their cars with their children should be a call for action for all elected and industry leaders [that] we need more affordable homes."

Ms Palaszczuk said 50,000 people had moved to Queensland during the past financial year. "Pre-COVID, it was 20,000, so that's more than double … and that number is only going to increase," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"The federal government has increased the migration intake that's going to be coming from overseas, this is also going to be an issue raised at National Cabinet, it's going to put added pressure on what already is a pressure cooker.

Shadow Housing Minister Tim Mander said the opposition was calling for more land supply and affordable housing targets.

"There's been no leadership for the last seven years, that's why we welcome the summit … because it's by engaging the sector or those stakeholders that we'll know what those targets will be, whether it's in social housing or affordable housing or the lots that need to be released," Mr Mander said.

"They're the type of things we hope to see at the end of this summit – if we don't get that, well, it's been a major, major disappointment."

The roundtable will bring together the Premier, Deputy Premier as well as the Public Works, Communities and Housing ministers with the Brisbane Lord Mayor and the Local Government Association of Queensland.

It will also involve key non-government stakeholders including QShelter, QCOSS, the REIQ, Property Council of Australia, Master Builders and the Planning Institute of Australia among others.

It will address critical issues including unlocking land and housing supply and fast-tracking social housing.

Property Council of Australia Queensland executive director Jen Williams said increasing housing supply must be a priority. "We haven't been delivering enough dwellings here in Queensland for quite a while now," Ms Williams said.

"Things like 'build-to-rent' – incentivising that to happen, which is purpose-built rental accommodation, we know that renters are the ones who are hurting the most at the moment.


Sky-High Airfares Hit Australia’s Labor Recovery, Minister Says

The high cost of global travel right now is fueling Australia’s worker shortage, the country’s trade minister said, with the jobs market the tightest it’s been in almost 50 years as the Covid crisis eases.

Pre-pandemic, foreign students and young travelers filled a key role in the Australian labor force, working in restaurants and other service-sector jobs, Trade and Tourism Minister Don Farrell said in an interview with Bloomberg News in Los Angeles, on the sidelines of a meeting of Indo-Pacific trade ministers on Friday.

Since the country dismantled its strict pandemic border regime earlier this year, demand for these sorts of visas has been high, but would-be workers are being deterred by “capacity and cost,” he said.

Expensive airfares are “an impediment to getting things back to normal in terms of staffing,” said Farrell. A lack of flights, with airline capacity not yet back to pre-pandemic levels, is also deterring workers, he said. “We’ve got to somehow address that.”

The minister ruled out the government subsidizing workers’ airfares, saying companies that relied on these sorts of employees had received financial support during the pandemic to stay in business and retain staff. Many of the working travelers -- known as “backpackers” -- who filled labor gaps before Covid came from the US and Europe, Farrell said, adding that the cost of airfare from the US to Australia had roughly tripled from pre-pandemic times.

Travel demand has skyrocketed as countries scrapped border restrictions, taking many airlines by surprise.

Tickets out of the UK over the northern hemisphere summer were up by almost a third, according to online travel agency Kayak, while flights from Australia were roughly 20% more in April than they were in 2019, a Mastercard Economics Institute study found. At the same time, carriers have been reluctant to return their full fleets to service in case the surge in demand is temporary. Rising fuel prices and inflation have also played a role.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


1 comment:

Emman said...

his post sheds light on a critical issue that needs urgent attention. It's heartening to see Minister Bill Shorten's initiative to address the scandalous misuse of hospital beds for disabled individuals. It's not just about cost savings but, more importantly, about providing these individuals with the care and support they deserve.

Understanding the challenges faced by disabled individuals during their recovery journey is crucial. Incorporating recovery coaches under NDIS could be a game-changer, ensuring a smoother transition and freeing up much-needed hospital resources.