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John Passant

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December 2011



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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)

I am not surprised
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)



Free dental care for all; gums not guns

Remember when the Greens and ALP struck a deal to allow the ALP to govern?

14 months ago part of the agreement said ‘… Australia needs urgent further action on dental care and that proposals for improving the nation’s investments in dental care should be considered in the context of the 2011 Budget.’

Nothing of course happened. Well not quite nothing.

The Government will fund 150 internships for dentistry graduates in the public health dentistry sector to address the chronic shortages there and hence delays.

The cost? A massive $52 million over 4 years. A pittance that won’t address even its limited aim let alone the dental health crisis Australia faces. More on that in a minute.

The Government also set up a new National Advisory Council on Dental Health. 

So Labor didn’t actually honour its agreement with the Greens, or maybe it did by considering doing something about dental health but not actually doing anything.

The interesting thing is that this Advisory Council has delivered an interim report to the Government and the Greens on dental health in which it supposedly recommends a universal national dental scheme.  

Labor won’t release it, saying that it is an interim report and that they will release the full report, due after the next budget. How convenient. Put dental health care on the back-burner.

Greens Senator Richard Di Natalie has said however that a number of options have been suggested, including funding such a scheme through Medicare.

Labor is duck shoving action because it will cost a lot – about $4 billion according to the Health Minister in 2008. And, she added helpfully at the time, the Labor Government couldn’t afford it.

The money is there. Tens of billions in tax exemptions go to the rich and business every year – superannuation, capital gains, R&D, family homes. 

Between 2005 and 2008 about 40% of big business paid no income tax. That figure will be higher now as a consequence of the global financial crisis. So a minimum company tax on the, say, 50% of big business currently paying no income tax would yield billions -more than enough to fund a universal and free dental health care system.

Labor won’t impose a minimum company tax because its priorities are profits not people and it doesn’t want to upset its mates in big business.

As the OECD Report on inequality said on Monday, Australia’s tax system is becoming less progressive, that is, more regressive. An ACTU tax report shows the poorest 20% in Australia have an effective tax rate of about 26%. For the richest 20% it is 34%.
This is more like a flat tax system than a progressive one.

A few simple progressive tax changes could easily pay for a universal dental health scheme. As I mentioned before, addressing the tax exemptions for the rich and big business could do it too.

Why, extending the Minerals Resource Rent Tax to all resources could do that. And taxing the super profits of the banks, and Coles and Woolies, could also do it.

Poor dental health is linked to poor health more generally. And the poorer you are the worse your teeth are likely to be.

According to the Brotherhood of St Laurence  millions of Australians can’t afford dental care. The failure to treat teeth costs society almost $1.5 billion annually.

17% of poor people have no teeth whereas only  0.03% of rich people have no teeth

This Labor government spends almost $30 billion a year on Defence. It is increasing that spending by 3% in real terms each year.

The war in Afghanistan costs almost $2 billion a year. Withdraw from that country and the money saved could go towards a national dental health scheme.

The Gillard Government cries poor when it comes to funding a national dental scheme. 

But the money is there if Labor had the will to take on its rich mates. It doesn’t. 

Labor’s priorities are clear – profit before people; guns before gums.

Our priorities are clear too – people not profit; gums not guns.


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