Posts Tagged ‘health’

Is this journalism?

Apparently, this was the province of a health reporter:

NINE years after he shot and killed his wife, George Sliwinski was back in his job as a psychiatrist, treating mentally ill patients in public hospitals.

Upon a careful reading of the rest of the story, you might find that the doctor resumed his job after serving his sentence in 1996 – in other words, he has been practicing for 12 years and has been subject to monitoring and regulation during that time.

The other thing that becomes clear upon reading this story is that the professional and regulatory bodies treated the doctor’s case as confidential and refused to give any details. We learn virtually nothing about the specific circumstances or conditions involved in allowing the doctor to return to practice. Which, I presume, means that the intention of publishing this article was to let people fill in the blanks with their existing beliefs and prejudices – for some, this will presumably mean that someone who has abused substances and killed his wife should never be able to return to work.

Do we learn anything else from the article?

He [Professor Tennant] declared the Herald “mother f—ers” after the meeting.

Thanks for that.

This story would appear to be the print equivalent of Today Tonight.

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Peer review

Tony Abbott critiques his own health plan.

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The Libs are out in force today, trying to erase last night’s defeat from the media narrative as quickly as possible. The Captain is spruiking his climate fund, announced during last night’s shenanigans. The Mad Monk is throwing money at women who have had breast cancer, with the major funding component being for breast prostheses. And Malcolm Turnbull is tip-toeing very slowly backward from his Captain’s declarations on nuclear energy, which Rudd raised during the debate last night as an issue that hasn’t been spoken about by Team Howard.

It’s all about moving the conversation forward. Tomorrow we will start to hear about how we’re (again – or, perhaps, “finally”) going to get serious about training the Iraqis to handle their own security, so that one day we can leave.

I maintain that Rudd should keep the issue of further debates running – indicate that he would be happy to have a couple more, whenever Howard is available – especially since there are all of these new policy and funding initiatives to discuss.

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It’s pro-Howard editorials ahoy! at the GG this morning. From Janet Albrechtsen:

The Prime Minister is undaunted by a presidential campaign. Indeed, on the day the real election campaign began, Howard pinpointed Rudd’s weakness. As he said on Sunday when announcing the November 24 election, love him or loathe him, voters have always known where the PM stands on an issue and what he believes in. During the past decade he has earned himself a reputation as a conviction politician, tackling issues unfazed by the howls of opposition from some quarters. Witness his long-time involvement in the culture wars, his sponsorship of gun controls, the introduction of the GST, Australia’s involvement in the Iraq war, the intervention into indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. Each was pursued because of Howard’s conviction on these issues.

WTF?! The “never ever” GST? And the NT intervention, followed by the reconciliation pseudo-backflip? I’m surprised that she didn’t point out his commitment to climate change. And we’re supposed to like the fact that he has been an unwavering sycophant on Iraq? Apparently, having conviction is more important than being right and open to new ideas.

Then we have academics Sinclair Davidson and Alex Robson (the same authors who recently published a critique of the Australia@Work report in the GG) lauding the Coalition’s “tax reform”:

How should Labor respond to the tax challenge? That Peter Costello appears to have caught the Opposition off-guard reflects poorly on its own tax policy (or lack thereof). If Kevin Rudd really is the economic conservative he claims to be, he will embrace this tax plan and go even further to avoid any possible me-too criticism.

But this will be difficult. The Labor Party platform already includes a proposal to increase the superannuation guarantee by 66per cent (from 9 per cent to 15per cent). That this impost is to be jointly funded by employers, employees and taxpayers is little consolation. It is a tax increase, no matter how you look at it.

A tax increase intended to ensure that retirees have enough super to prevent a greater burden on the welfare system as our population ages? How daft – it sounds like Labor is showing “the vision thing”, which these authors say a government doesn’t need.

Finally, we have the editor-at-large. Larvatus Prodeo already has a spot-on commentary about this one – Kelly’s focus is entirely on how the Team Howard announcements have been received, or indeed is an attempt to shape the narrative of how it has been received. There is no consideration of the fact that these policies actually have societal implications. Here’s my (least) favourite example:

Claims that Howard should have spent the revenue on better services are ludicrous in political terms. Health and education are Labor issues, no matter how much funding Howard provides. Howard and Costello must play to their strength: the economy, tax and jobs. This is the only avenue to their election victory. If they cannot win the election on their strengths then, by definition, they cannot win the election.

So, Howard is entitled to neglect key social issues such as producing the healthiest and best-educated nation he possibly can, because they are “Labor issues”? Possum Comitatus used the Crosby-Textor data to illustrate the way that issues can “belong” to one party or the other, so I can appreciate the political reality of what Kelly is saying here, but that does not mean that the media should give the pollies a free ride on issues. The candidates will try to keep the message on the issues they want to talk about – the voters should be given an opportunity to hear about the good and bad aspects of their policies. Kelly, along with the rest of the GG’s editorial staff, is helping to sell the political message for Team Howard rather than helping to facilitate a substantive consideration of the issues.

UPDATE: Shanahan was up to his usual tricks today, this time spinning the Newspoll analysis of how the parties rate on key issues. Possum Comitatus has shown it for the load of crap that it is with a couple of quick regressions.

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How many votes does $35 million buy?

Reminds me of a West Wing quote: “You know the thing about you, Mr. President? It isn’t so much that you cheat. It’s how brazenly bad you are at it.”

Call the election – give us a chance to elect a government that will work on all of the hospitals, not just the ones in marginal electorates.

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Tim Dunlop breaks down some of the figures on federal-state proportional funding for hospitals:

In trying to untangle the rhetoric from both parties about their hospital policies the other day, one aspect I only touched on was the issue of funding. I noted that “the Federal Government…seems to be using the moment to decrease the amount of money they put into the system. The usual split between State and Commonwealth is 50/50, though under Mr Abbott the federal share has dropped to about 45%. The Health Minister is now talking in terms of a 40% Commonwealth share, at a time when costs are rising.”

In fact, a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare indicates that the Federal funding share has already dropped to 41% of the total.

Tim talks about the implications of this in terms of the Coalition’s new policy of forming local hospital boards, but it’s worth noting what this says about the historical situation. State governments (or, at the very least, some of them) have been increasing their spending on the health system in an attempt to improve one of the most vital services a government can provide. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth has allowed its investment in health to slip so that the states are shouldering more of the burden than ever before. Meanwhile, the federal Government happily attacks the states on two fronts: (i) they aren’t operating health services at an adequate level, and (ii) state governments running into debt are responsible for interest rate rises.

In other words, the Commonwealth keeps the money in their very deep pockets (all the better to fund advertising campaigns with), and they get to hit the states for both spending too much and not spending enough.

If you want to hear what the other side of politics is saying, Nicola Roxon has a piece in the GG today.

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The poll-dancing bump

Galaxy has it at 57-43, with the primary at 47-39. And the Poll Bludger has some info on an intriguing poll that shows that of the 77% of respondents who say they have made up their mind, 56% (i.e., 43% of the whole sample) are definitely voting Labor.

But at least Glenn Milne is still working on the government’s re-election campaign, following up his rumour campaign attached to the Strippergate story with an absurd scare piece about the Labor health plan – the irony being that if he had taken the time to read the plan he might have found something to generate actual concern.

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