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Filter by April, 2011

Minister Roxon to meet with stakeholders about the PBS

This morning, Minister Roxon is meeting with peak lobby groups about the recent decision by Government to defer the listing of pharmaceuticals on the PBS. Representatives from Medicines Australia, the Consumers Health Forum, the Australian Medical Association and the Generic Industry Medicines Association have invited the Minister, as well as Minister Wong and Treasurer Swan, to explain the Government’s rationale for this approach. Minister Roxon has previously argued that it is the role of the government to provide health for patients across a range of services and to carefully examine the financial implications of each potential new product to be listed on the PBS.In contrast, Medicines Au... Read more...

Regional labour market statistics - March 2011

The March regional labour force data reveal that employment levels have grown and unemployment rates have fallen across most of Australia. However, for some regions things remain difficult as they struggle to provide enough jobs for their local labour force.Queensland encapsulated the best and worst of the nation’s labour market outcomes. It recorded the lowest unemployment rate of 2.1 per cent in the West Moreton Statistical Region and the highest at 10.6 per cent in the Far North Statistical Region.Between March 2010 and March 2011 the biggest improvement in the unemployment rate occurred in the Far West Statistical Division (New South Wales); 20.6 per cent to 6.6 per cent. The biggest det... Read more...

Time in Government since Federation

On Monday 28 March 2011 Barry O’Farrell was sworn in as Premier of New South Wales thus ending the Labor Party’s 16-year period in office. The Liberal/National Coalition’s win in NSW brings to three the current number of non-Labor governments in Australia’s nine federal, state and territory jurisdictions (Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales). This is the first time since Federation that these three states have been under Coalition control while Labor is in power in the other six jurisdictions. It is quite the norm for there to be a mix of Labor and non-Labor jurisdictions. There have been only six periods when all federal and state governments were of the same political persuasio... Read more...

Australia's current debt position

The Parliamentary Library has published an update on Australia’s debt levels—please see Australia’s current debt position – update July 2012.In recent times a lot has been spoken about Australia’s level of debt. This was no more evident than in the lead up to the last Federal election where it seemed to dominate debate. Terms like net and gross debt were thrown around with no real understanding of what these terms actually mean. Therefore, in this article I aim to not only report on Australia’s current debt situation, both public and private, but also shed some light on what is actually meant by these terms. When describing debt, the most often reported term is net debt. Net debt, simply sta... Read more...

Royal Australian Navy to purchase UK ship

The announcement by the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Defence Materiel that Australia has been successful in its bid to purchase the UK Royal Navy vessel the RFA Largs Bay is a significant step on the way to restoring the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) amphibious support capability. The fact that Australia has secured the vessel for $102 million when the book value is said to be in the order of $130 million adds to value of the purchase.The decision by the government of the United Kingdom to sell the Largs Bay was a result of the UK’s recent defence review—Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: the Strategic Defence and Security Review. This was a broad-ranging review touching... Read more...

New claims of inappropriate behaviour at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA)

Reports in the Australian media that a male first-year army cadet at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) both filmed and broadcast himself having consensual sex with an 18 year-old female first-year air force cadet have once again raised concerns about the male-dominated environment and culture of the Australian Defence Force, and its acceptance and treatment of women (only 14.5 percent of ADF members are women). It is alleged that the male cadet’s room had been equipped with a number of web cameras and that the feed from these was being watched live via Skype by six other male cadets in a nearby room. The woman was unaware that she was being filmed and that the footage was being wat... Read more...

Coalition 'tough love' welfare reform proposals

The Federal Opposition has proposed a number of substantial changes to the welfare system, which it says are designed to encourage more people into work. Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, announced the proposed changes in a speech to the Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 31 March. Mr Abbott's proposals have been subject to criticism from some commentators primarily on the grounds that they will do little to get people into work. On the other hand, some of Mr Abbott's proposed measures have gained support on the grounds that tougher measures might be required to increase workforce participation. The proposals are: Work for the Dole should be made mandatory for people under 50 years... Read more...

Disability Support Pension Customers: Statistical Summary

The Disability Support Pension (DSP) is a means tested payment for people with a disability. To be eligible for the DSP a person must be permanently blind or have a permanent physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment. To qualify for the DSP, a person must be aged 16 years or over but have not reached pension age at the time of claiming (for more information on eligibility see the Centrelink website). As at June 2010, there were 792 581 DSP customers, this is an increase of 35 463 (4.7 per cent change) from the previous year. As a proportion of the total Australian working age population, DSP customers (aged 15 to 64) made up 5.2 per cent. Of the 792 581, only 20 per cent (158 714) did... Read more...

Making savings from the PBS - is deferring the listing of medicines the answer?

In a recent speech, Prime Minister Gillard warned that there would be ‘painful’ cutbacks in the forthcoming Budget. There was no indication of where these cuts might be but it appears that the Government has already made decisions that will slow government expenditure in some programs. Recently, the Government has deferred the listing of products on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) until ‘circumstance permit’ and imposed a requirement that all pharmaceuticals that receive a positive recommendation from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee(PBAC) must be considered by Cabinet prior to listing on the PBS. This post explains the recent changes to the process for listing medici... Read more...

Asylum trends: Europe and Australia compared

This week the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released figures showing a fall in the number of asylum claims in the industrialised world over the last ten years. In an accompanying press release, it noted that: 'a total of 358 800 asylum applications were lodged in industrialized countries in 2010, which was 5 per cent fewer than in 2009. The latest number was the fourth lowest in the last decade and almost half (42 per cent) of the 620 000 applications filed in 2001'.In contrast, while Australia received a relatively small number of applications (8250 from a total of 358 800), there was an increase in the number lodged according to the UNHCR press release: 'Australia r... Read more...

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