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John Passant

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March 2010



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

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I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Rudd’s health ripoff

Rudd’s health revolution isn’t about better health care; it is about cutting costs and ‘inefficiencies’.

With an eye to the election later this year, Labor’s changes are about pretending to fix the health mess while adding to them. They are about wrong footing the Opposition who have been gaining traction against Labor, pointing out the ALP’s all talk no action agenda.

The ‘reforms’ will be popular, much like the Emissions Trading Scheme was initially was popular too, until people begin to realise the reality of what is being proposed. 

Rudd’s health changes give the impression of making things better while in reality over time making them worse.

Will there be more beds? More doctors? More nurses? More health care advances and new technology available across the country? Shorter waiting times?

The telling point for me is whether nurses will receive large pay increases to reflect their real value to society. Not while Rudd is around. 

Rudd wants health reform on the cheap.

His first move is to change the funding mix to 60 percent from the Commonwealth and 40 percent from the states and territories (from the current 40/60 split). He will do this by grabbing $90 bn over the next five years from the States’ GST revenue. 

Yet the amount the states ‘save’ in health spending maybe less than this.  In other words this reversal may be a funding cut for the States and force them into raising taxes or diverting other priority spending into health to meet the 40 percent funding figure.

Further, Health Minister Nicola Roxon has said that there may need to be tax increases to pay for the health revolution.

When Labor talks about tax increases they don’t mean taxing the rich; they mean taxing ordinary workers.

Thus the disgraceful $3 billion annual subsidy to the inefficient private health insurers will continue in an attempt to prop up the private health ‘market’.

Indeed, what shines through in this health ‘revolution’ is Labor’s commitment to the market as the solution for all the problems.

Labor has a long history of reliance on the market – from tax cuts for the rich to a pathetic Emissions Trading Scheme which counteracted its own manipulated market mechanisms with proposals for huge subsidies to the polluters.

In education Labor’s My School is just another example of of parents and their children as consumers of a product rather than citizens of a polity.

Underpinning the stimulus package was not the idea that governments know best but that governments should prop up the market – indeed throw petrol on the pyre. One result was the roofing insulation disaster.

Rudd’s health reform will impose Victoria’s case mix approach (first introduced by the Kennett Liberal Government) across Australia. This has seen health costs fall in Victoria to become the lowest in the country.

Would you be surprised to learn that the level of health care and service in Victoria has also fallen too?

Estimates are that a national case mix scheme would save $1.3 bn in costs a year.  It would not improve care but reduce it, as  has happened in Victoria.

Eventually instead of the money going to the states it would go to local health networks. 

There will be ‘efficiency’ standards and comparisons of health outcomes, and those deemed inefficient will be under pressure to cut costs. The local health networks will shift the blame game to those like nurses directly involved in providing heath care.

Rural hospitals and health care for indigenous communities are by their very remoteness less efficient than big city hospitals and health care centres. 

The tourniquet will be twisted tighter and tighter to cut ‘inefficiencies’. This will put incredible pressure on doctors and nurses working in those services. 

Although Rudd denies it, the logic of his proposals is to close down or amalgamate ‘inefficient’ hospitals.

Is there an alternative? Empower hospital staff to run their hospitals. Fund them adequately. Pay nurses more. 

Tax the rich to provide every Australian with a free universal health care system.



Comment from Arjay
Time March 7, 2010 at 11:39 pm

The states health systems are top heavy with bureaucrats.They are just a replay of Yes Minister.We also need to make everyone to pay something to see a GP to stop overservicing.Increase the pension and make an exception for those with chronic illness.

Even a small cost of $10.00 will reduce people with minor aliments rushing to a doctor.Health is about lifestyle more than popping pills to cure the ills of other dills pills.

If our Govts also had decent standards for fast foods,and what is on the super market shelves,then we would not have to pop the big pharma’s rubbish.

There are regulations on what goes into our petrol tanks but really none on what goes into our mouths.

I don’t like regulation but good food will save us all money and grief.

Pingback from En Passant » Rudd's health ripoff | Health Issues
Time March 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm

[…] Continue reading here: En Passant » Rudd's health ripoff […]

Comment from Vern
Time March 9, 2010 at 2:28 am

John, Australia’s health system IS run by workers – practitioners and providers, in public and private sectors.

It is NOT run by consumers. Consumers are outsiders in our health system – unrepresented in the debate, and invisible in the system – while provider organisations and health worker unions (the AMA, the Nurses Federation, and Hospital Executives) drive the agenda and scare governments into line.

This has been the pattern for the last century. Prior to that, Australia had a consumer-centred and consumer-driven health system in the 19th century in the form of friendly societies, which were co-operatives of consumers, with branches in every town and suburb, who contracted with GPs for capitation-based services (ie not fee-for-sevice). For a subscription of sixpence a month, you received the services of a GP irrespective of how well or ill you were. Friendly societies ran pharmacies and employed most of Australia’s pharmacists in not-for-profit outlets. Small bush hospitals were run along the same lines by the Bush Nursing Associations.

Then there was a rebellion from the AMA from 1910 onwards, which included an infamous doctors strike in 1919 pulled during an epidemic of Spanish influenza which claimed tens of thousands of lives in Australia. The doctors wanted fee-for-service in doctor-owned private practices. They hated being contracted to a non-profit collective of consumers.

The Left then joned the AMA in attacking the friendly societies, because the left wanted a state-run, not a consumer-run, health insurance system.

So we got, by the 1950s, a joint effort by the Right and Left in killing off consumer action through the friendly societies, and in its place, a stalemate in health care based on a stand-off between practitioner interests on the Right and public sector advocates on the Left – neither of whom give a stuff about the consumer.

No, John, health workers are already empowered thankyou. It’s the consumers who need an empowerment agenda. But if you’re a Marxist, you won’t get the concept of disempowered consumers … it didn’t rate a mention in the work of Marx because that agenda was all based around production. Which does make it, kind of, stuffed, and which is why no socialist regime has ever considered life as a consumer in anything.

In health as in everything else in politics, it’s time for a new agenda, a new revolution.

Vern Hughes

Comment from John
Time March 9, 2010 at 6:52 am

Thnks Vern. If nurses run the system why are they paid such crap wages and overworked so much? I’ll try to get back to the other consumerism issues you raise after work.

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