Home // 2019 // February

Ley’s action, a new way?opinion

Federal Health Minister Sussan LeyCALL it vacation interruptus. Squared. One day after Tony Abbott interrupted his holiday to defend his government’s revamped Medicare rebate, his new Health Minister terminated her holiday to dump it altogether.

If you think this a very bad look — and it is — contemplate the alternative.

“It was going to be carnage,” is how one insider described what awaited the federal government if it had held firm.

With patients facing the prospect of paying an extra $20 to see their GP from Monday, every doctor’s surgery loomed as a baseball bat to be wielded against the government. And to what end?

With opposition and crossbench senators committed to disallowing the rebate changes when Parliament resumes next month, the government was facing a huge dose of pain without a purpose.

So why did Abbott give no hint of the backdown when he spoke on Wednesday, instead challenging Labor and other critics to come up with an alternative to make the health system sustainable?

Maybe he needed more time to think it through.

Maybe he needed Sussan Ley to deliver her blunt verdict.

Either way, after the two spoke on Wednesday, the government’s second major Medicare retreat was ticked off in a conference call yesterday, with Abbott addressing his colleagues from his vacation spot on the NSW south coast.

“People often think you send the Health Minister an email (and) she never reads it,” Ley said.

“In fact, I’ve read an awful lot over the last fortnight and … I’ve heard, I’ve listened and I’m deciding to take this action now.”

If the conclusion is that the government has started the new year in the same chaotic manner it finished the old one, the Ley template for listening and acting could provide a “new way”.

But her task is unchanged. It includes addressing the rising cost of Medicare by introducing a “modest co-payment” for those who can pay. No wonder Ley cut short her leave.

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No drop but there is a gain

THE median residential land value in Albury fell by 1.19per cent this past year, from $101,000 to $99,800.

The figures from the NSW Valuer-General’s office were announced yesterday and next week the city’s landowners will receive notification of the values, which will be referred to by Albury Council as it prepares its 2015-16 budget.

The council has moved to promote the value decline ahead of the inevitable question from ratepayers — will my rates fall?

The answer, it seems, is no, with council general manager Frank Zaknich dispelling what he described as a common misconception regarding a correlation between a fall in land values and lower rates.

He says Albury may have seen residential values decline slightly this year, but there had been an overall 2.34per cent increase over the past three years.

Real estate agents appear confident the declining land values will not see house prices fall.

Ray White agent James Brown says the local market remains attractive with existing interest rates and the release of the values may drive further activity.

The rise in commercial land values is seen as a sign of the city’s progress.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 老域名.

Ley’s move a good step

JUST weeks after becoming the nation’s new Health Minister, the member for Farrer, Sussan Ley, yesterday made her mark by announcing a plan to slash the Medicare rebate for short GP visits had been scrapped.

The plan, introduced by regulation rather than Parliament, cut the rebate to GPs for short consultations with them passing on the shortfall to patients.

As recently as Wednesday, the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, had defended the proposal to cut $20.10 from the rebate to GPs for visits of less than 10 minutes.

Ms Ley’s announcement yesterday has understandably been widely welcomed by the Australian Medical Association, both nationally and locally. Doctors feared the rebate cut would reduce their ability to provide good service and increase demand on hospital emergency departments.

Yet one Wodonga doctor Bill Walton had backed the rebate reduction, saying it would promote better preventative health measures.

Mr Abbott this week challenged to doctors and the community to offer their opinions on Medicare reform.

And Ms Ley’s commitment to consultation means there is much more discussion ahead.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 老域名.

Please don’t axe our shade trees

THERE is an Albury Council proposal to remove all the gum trees on the eastern side of QEII Square when the youth cafe is being built.

These trees provide wonderful shade for the square.

The only trees apparently will be small ones that line the pathway.

It looks as though the council is trying to make the square a neat European park with no regard for the need for summer shade.

There already is little enough shade in the centre of Albury where citizens can sit without more trees being removed.

The Bureau of Meteorology each day reminds us of the increasing burning ultra-violet rays — Tuesday, January 13, reached 14 on the bureau’s scale of 14. That is an extreme reading, just as most of the days this summer so far have been on the high end of the scale. The winter reading is about four.

With the plan open for public comment until January 26, we are lodging a protest with the council about the removal of these essential shade trees. We ask that this protest be noted by the mayor, council members and staff.



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Federal level must go not state

IT is easy to sympathise with Kevin Chinnock (The Border Mail, January 10) in feeling over governed, but to dispense with the states would be a serious inroad into the form of democracy that has served us well, even if not perfectly.

The idea of regional administration areas, he suggests sounds like a bun fight to me.

Imagine 100 or so administration areas clamouring for federal funding, vying with each other for money to support schools, police, transport and medical facilities.

Imagine the infrastructure that will build up to secure, distribute and service those funds. Imagine which areas will miss out.

Imagine the difficulty of influencing a regional administration for local and specific issues.

If you think it is too expensive to support a state system, imagine the cost of supporting a 100 or so “mini states”, each seeking to protect and advance its own patch.

The cost of two licenses for the fishing and tradespeople which is of concern to Kevin Chinnock may well blow out to five or six of them.

Devolving decision making among federal and state upper and lower houses and local government provides for a range of representatives.

One of the problems of being over governed, is the intrusion of federal governments into state affairs.

Federal governments use the tax collected from the population and industry to push their own agendas by tying funds to specific projects and undermining the autonomy of states.

If you want to make cuts, start with the federal government.



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