FlagPost

Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Not working, nor looking for work, then what?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released the 2017 results from their survey of Participation, job search and mobility. This survey data provides information on job seekers and job switchers, as well as people who are not in the labour force; that is, those who are not working, nor looking for work. Within this group of people, there are various reasons as to why people do not need or want a job. The main reasons people are not in the labour force is the focus of this article.  Read more...

Pharmacy Review: change ahead or business as usual?

On 22 June 2017, the last day of the winter session for the Australian Parliament, the Independent Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation released its Interim Report. The release did not receive much coverage in the mainstream media, even though the Report canvasses significant changes for pharmacists and consumers. It has, however, drawn a strong response from key stakeholders. Read more...

New Bill allows specialists to certify medical exemptions to vaccines

Starting with the 2015–16 Budget, the Australian Government has made significant changes to immunisation policy in recent years. These include removing conscientious objection as a valid exemption to immunisation requirements for certain family payments (the ‘No Jab, No Pay’ policy), and recording immunisation information nationally for people of all ages, rather than just young children. On 23 March 2017, the Government introduced the Australian Immunisation Register and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 (the Bill) in the House of Representatives. This Bill expands the list of medical professionals who can certify a medical exemption to immunisation, and clarifies that... Read more...

Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Amendment (New Governance Arrangements) Bill 2016

In view of the Bill’s passage through the House of Representatives on 22 November, and its listing for debate in the Senate on 24 November, this FlagPost has been published in lieu of a Bills Digest. Following the recommendations of a review conducted in 2015, the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Amendment (New Governance Arrangements) Bill 2016 (the Bill) proposes that the current Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority (OTA) Advisory Council be replaced by a governing Board that also assumes many of the responsibilities currently assigned to the OTA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  Read more...

Consumer issues driving current private health insurance debate

Proposals to reform private health insurance arrangements are being canvassed by the Health Minister, Sussan Ley through a consultation process, including an online consumer survey. The Minister has also appointed Professor Graeme Samuel to consult with industry. According to the Health Minister’s press release, the main concern with current arrangements is that consumers are not getting value for money. Read more...

Closing the gap in Indigenous health

19 March is National Close the Gap Day, an annual event coordinated by Oxfam Australia to highlight the significant gap in health status between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. For the origin of the day, the non-government campaign behind it and the Council of Australian Government (COAG)’s National Indigenous Reform Agreement (NIRA) and its ‘Closing the gap’ strategy see an earlier FlagPost. Extent of the gap According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians ‘start(s) at birth and continue(s) throughout life’ and is best illustrated by differences in life expectancy.... Read more...

Private health insurance in primary care: overview of issues

While the Government’s proposed patient co-payment for GP services has focused debate on whether some kind of ‘price signal’ for GP services is needed, private health insurers have been exploring options to provide their members with free or expedited access to GPs. Under current legislation, health insurers cannot provide insurance for which a Medicare benefit is payable. Despite these legislative restrictions, Medibank Private and other health insurers have been trialling different approaches to improve access to GP services for their members. In Queensland, Medibank Private has been running the GP Access Program in selected clinics which is aimed at improving members&rs... Read more...

The 'mind-body problem' and proposed DSP reforms

The interim report of the Review of Australia’s Welfare System led by Patrick McClure was released on 29 June 2014. The report contains proposals for significant reforms to the Disability Support Pension (DSP). The reforms would see the DSP reserved for people with a permanent impairment and no capacity to work. Those people with a partial capacity to work would be placed on a lower tiered working age payment and provided with support to improve their employment capacity. The proposals represent an attempt to deal with the perverse incentive for income support claimants to apply for DSP, which has a higher rate of payment and reduced activity testing, rather than allowance payments l... Read more...

Mental health week--5 to 12 October

Mental Health Week, commencing on 5 October, provides an opportunity for a national focus on mental health issues and coincides with World Mental Health Day which falls on 10 October. A range of community events are being planned and coordinated at the state level to raise awareness and help build mental well-being. Events are diverse and include morning teas, art exhibitions, sporting activities, workshops, balls, seminars and fundraisers and will be held in schools, workplaces, community facilities, galleries, ovals and parks.  The ABC has also programmed ‘Mental As’ to draw attention to mental health issues. Mental illness is common according to the Australian Bureau of... Read more...

Australia’s WTO plain cigarette packaging case: an update

Australia is a respondent in five World Trade Organization (WTO) disputes regarding the introduction of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 (TPPA). The disputes were commenced by Ukraine, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Indonesia (the Applicants).  Read more...

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