by Alan Thornhill
The Federal government is putting aside an extra $82 million to ensure 150,000 cancer patients can get safe and effective treatment each year.
The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, said the money – to be delivered through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – would assist patients with essential chemotherapy drug infusions.
“Patients undergoing cancer treatment and their families will have certainty that timely access to safe and effective treatment will be available through their hospital or pharmacy,” Mr Abbott said.
“The Government will also improve patient safety and care by removing unnecessary red tape for clinicians prescribing, processing and claiming for PBS medicines,” he added.
“Clinicians in public and private hospitals will now be able to use a patient’s medication chart to dispense and claim PBS medicines,” he said.
Mr Abbott said these changes will enable clinicians to spend more time with their patients and less time completing duplicate paperwork.
“The new funding will be delivered from 1 January 2014 and will provide $152.66 per infusion to meet the higher costs of providing chemotherapy treatment,” the Prime Minister said.
“The new funding and simpler administration will deliver real benefits for patients, their families and friends, hospitals, pharmacies and health professionals in the fight against cancer,” he added.
by Alan Thornhill
Dave Roberts has firm views on the Productivity Commission’s suggestion that it may be necessary to push the pension age up to 70, to protect Federal finances.
In a letter published in The Canberra Times, Mr Roberts, says the Commission’s report, containing that recommendation: “…is a typical suggestion from a bunch of well-paid white collar public servants in their plush ivory tower.”
And that’s not all Mr Roberts, who lives in the Canberra suburb of Dickson, has to say on the matter.
He has a suggestion of his own.
“Why don’t they go out and ask brickies, farmers etc how their bodies are holding up at 65 and whether they can work another five years?”
True, the ACTU – and member unions – made much the same point, in their response to the commission’s report.
But Dave Robert’s eloquence put them all to shame.
He has supporters in surprising places, too.
The Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman, is one.
Mr Krugman wrote a blistering commentary on a US proposal to lift America’s retirement age, which is currently 66 to 67 – “because people are living longer.”
“This sounds plausible,” Krugman says, “until you look at exactly who is living longer.
“The rise in life expectancy, it turns out, is overwhelmingly a story about affluent, well educated Americans.
“Those with lower incomes and less education, at best, have hardly seen any rise in life expectancy at 65; in fact those with less education have seen their life expectancy decline.
“So this common argument amounts, in effect, to the notion that we can’t let janitors retire because lawyers are living longer.
“And low income Americans, in case you haven’t noticed, are the people who need social security most.”
The Productivity Commission didn’t have a lot to say about, precisely who, in Australia can now expect to live longer.
It relied, almost entirely, on broad population figures, produced by the Bureau of Statistics.
A reputable source, certainly.
But there is one big problem with stats, everywhere.
There is never enough detail.
And – as as both Mr Roberts and Mr Krugman have shown – that can be very important.
by Alan Thornhill
The Productivity Commission says the pension age may have to be lifted from 65 to 70.
In a report released today, the Commission urged the Federal government to study the increases in health and social security costs, that will come with an ageing population.
It said Australians are living longer now than they did in the past.
It also notes that old people are often asset rich, but income poor and suggests that the Federal government should consider guaranteeing reverse mortgages for them, to help them live more comfortably in retirement.
The Commission says: “Australia’s population will both grow strongly and become older.
“Such slow but profound shifts in the nature of a society do not elicit the same scrutiny as immediate policy issues.
“The preferable time to contemplate the implications is while these near inevitable trends are still in their infancy.
The Commission takes a positive view.
It says: “Population ageing is largely a positive outcome, primarily reflecting improved life expectancy.
It says a girl born this year will, on average, live to 94.4.
And boys will live to 91.6.
But it adds: “Collectively, it is projected that Australian governments will face additional pressures on their budgets equivalent to around 6 per cent of national GDP by 2060, principally reflecting the growth of expenditure on health, aged care and the Age Pension.”
by Alan Thornhill
The Abbott government has moved to clear the way for its first budget calculations, by announcing a raft of tax changes.
The Treasurer, Joe Hockey, announced today that the government would proceed with:-
* A plan to index the tobacco excise. This will to add about $2.50 to the price of a packet of cigarettes from December 1, with more increases to come over a four year period. This is expected to raise $5,240 million for the government over that time.
* Index tobacco excise to average weekly ordinary time earnings. This is expected to raise $740 million
* Measures to protect the corporate tax base from erosion. These will include restricting the immediate deduction for the cost of acquiring mining rights to companies involved in genuine exploration. This is expected to raise an extra $1.1 billion.
* Denying the research and development tax incentive to large companies with incomes of $20 billion or more. This is expected to raise more than $1 billion.
* Proceed with the phasing out of net medical expenses tax offset, with traditional arrangements for current claimants. This is expected to save $963.5 million.
by Alan Thornhill
The Federal government has welcomed the High Court’s rejection of a compensation claim made by a female public servant, injured in a “vigorous” sexual encounter.
The Employment Minister, Eric Abetz, described the court’s split decision as a “victory for common sense.”
The woman, whose name has been suppressed sought workers compensation for an injury sustained on a work trip, after hours, while engaging in sexual activities, in a country motel.
The case has major implications for all bosses who send employees on work trips.
It has run since 2009, through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Federal Court and now the High Court.
Even today, two High Court judges disagreed with the majority of their colleagues.
They argued that the woman should have been paid out.
But Senator Abetz said : “The High Court has taken a very welcome common sense approach that will see a more sensible approach prevail in the future.”
He said: “This decision protects the currency of work place safety which was in serious danger of being trivialised by this claim.”
“This decision also means that the definition of ‘work-related injury’ is more clearly defined,” Senator Abetz said.
“It’s important in Australian workplaces that we have a form of ‘mutual obligation’ where employees and employers both work together and are prepared to accept personal responsibility.”
“Instances such as this where an employee seeks to stretch the boundaries of entitlements are of great concern and the High Court’s intervention is welcome,” Senator Abetz said.
by Alan Thornhill
The US government is set to get back to work – and pay its bills – after both Houses of Congress endorsed a bi-partisan deal, worked out in the Senate.
President Obama has now signed the deal and put it into effect.
However he warned that America must “get out of the habit of governing by crisis.”
Under the deal, the US government will be funded until January 15 and its debt ceiling will be suspended until February 7.
This follows 16 days of political and financial crisis in Washington.
A reporter asked Mr Obama, at his press conference,whether there would be more troubles, as the new deadlines approached,
“Mr. President, isn’t this going to happen all over again in a few months?” the reporter inquired.
The President’s answer was simple.
“No,” he said.
That remark was greeted with laughter, due in large part to the relief that came with the resolution of the dual crisis.
The Republicans’ decision to block budget measures had brought the US government to a virtual standstill for more than two weeks.
The Republicans were trying to force the President either to scrap, or restrict his new health scheme, popularly called Obamacare.
They then sought to increase that pressure, by threatening to keep the original October 17 debt ceiling in place.
That would have left the US, the world’s biggest economy, facing the grim prospect of defaulting on its bills.
But the President refused to budge.
He said his new health scheme had arrived – and would stay.
The US would have been forced into defaulting on its bills, if the debt ceiling was not lifted by Thursday, American time.
That would have thrown global financial markets into turmoil and might well have tipped the world into a new Depression.
The breakthrough came when the Senate endorsed a bi-partisan deal, negotiated by senior Democrat and Republican Senators.
The US House of Representatives also backed the deal later in a 285-144 vote.
The President later told reporters: “I will sign it immediately.”
He then did so.
by Alan Thornhill
Senior Republicans are now saying they’re ready to throw in the towel and accept a Senate deal.
This has led to hopes of a breakthrough, in the budget and debt crises that brought much of the US government to a standstill – and threatened to force the United States into its first default since the 17th century.
That could still happen if the government’s debt ceiling is not raised by Thursday, American time.
But there are now signs of hope, for the first time in weeks.
The biggest risk now arises from the likely response of the most extreme Republicans, including those in the Tea Party.
No-one yet knows how they will respond to these developments, or how much damage they can still do.
The emerging hopes rest largely upon urgent talks that have been taking place in the US Senate.
America will not be able to pay its bills if the present debt ceiling is not lifted by Thursday, American time.
That could still throw the world’s financial markets into turmoil and trigger a new Depression.
President Obama is saying that there is still time to avoid a historic – and potentially disastrous – default.
Republicans have already brought much of the US government to a halt, by blocking budget legislation.
And they have been threatening to block attempts to raise the US debt ceiling, as well.
They started these actions, hoping to force President Obama to abandon, or at least restrict, his new health care system, commonly called Obamacare.
But the President has stood his ground, declaring that the new system is already in place and will stay.
However he was showing signs of impatience, late yesterday, with the US House leader, John Boehner, who he has been meeting, in an attempt to reach a compromise.
“… there have been repeated situations where we have agreements, then he goes back and it turns out that he can’t control his caucus,” the President said.
“ So the challenge here is can you deliver on agreements that are made,” he said, referring to Mr Boehner.
by Alan Thornhill
Thousands of Australians – including many children – are going hungry because the charities they rely on can’t get enough food.
A new report, by Foodbank, says 65,000 Australians suffer in this way each month.
And the report, called End Hunger in Australia, says there has been a 9 per cent increase, over the past year, in the number of Australians seeking food assistance from charities.
The report says most of those who do so are driven by a combination of low incomes and unexpected events.
One case cited in the report is that of a six year old boy, called Jamie, whose parents were killed in a car accident.
Jamie was taken into care by an uncle and an aunt, who had barely enough to support their own two children.
They found that help had to be sought, two months later, after Jamie’s uncle was made redundant.
The Greens said, today, that events like these make a national anti poverty strategy necessary.
Speaking on World Food Day, Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, said children make up a third of the people who can’t get the food aid they need.
“This is a heartbreaking statistic and is something that shouldn’t be happening in a wealthy nation like Australia,” she said.
“Low income families, single parent families and unemployed households are at significant risk of going hungry,” she added
“And I have no doubt that Labor’s cuts to single parent payments have made things worse in the last year,” Senator Siewert said.
“Skipping meals and inadequate nutrition can seriously affect your health.
“ Parents will find it harder to work and raise their families.
“When kids go to school hungry, they find it harder to concentrate and get the education they need,” she said.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
Wednesday December 11
Holden has announced it will stop producing vehicles in Australia in 2017. Toyota likely to follow suit
The Dow Jones index fell 53 points to 15,973
Acting PM Warren Truss writes to Mike Devereux seeking “a clear statement” on Holden’s future
The Federal Treasurer, Joe Hockey, says the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook will be released next Tuesday, at the National Press Club.
|Aud To Usd||0.9118||N/A||N/A|
|Bhp Blt Fpo||36.180||-0.640||-1.74%|
|Qbe Insur. Fpo||11.010||+0.190||+1.76%|
The News This Week
- Holden’s decision will hit Australia’s job market very hard
- PM’s “panzer division”
- Holden to close. Toyota likely to follow
- Consumer spirits fade
- Chinese coal company gets a break
- PM cancelling Senators’ Christmas?
- Consumer confidence crashes
- Say if you will stay: Holden urged
- Government asks child care workers to give back their pay rise
- Public servants:what they cost
- Building industry gathers strength
- Job outlook poor:NAB
- Farm leaders look to the future
- Hockey welcomes decision on debt ceiling
- Processing at Ranger suspended
- Airlines (81)
- Banking (2580)
- Business (2697)
- Communications (58)
- crime (15)
- Disaster (119)
- Economics (2671)
- education (2)
- Environment (130)
- Financial advice (2419)
- Health (102)
- Housing (713)
- Inflation (528)
- Insurance (107)
- Investment (2198)
- Markets (2001)
- Media (133)
- medical (42)
- mining (270)
- pay (112)
- Politics (2739)
- population (168)
- Regulation (1034)
- retirement (87)
- rural (16)
- Rural australia (113)
- Security (23)
- Social security (256)
- Superannuation (235)
- Tax (404)
- The latest (134)
- Trade (750)
- Uncategorized (393)