Doctor and activist


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Category: Accountability

Aboriginal Deaths in Custody are not far from the US situation. 5/6/20

Australians looking at the riots happening in the US may be tempted to feel smug that it does not happen here. The riots don’t, but there has been a long history of Aboriginal deaths in custody, seemingly unchanged by a number of Royal Commissions. This is long overdue to be addressed, and is the peak of the tendency to criminalise our social problems.

You might argue that the policeman who tripped a 16 year old to arrest him did so because the youth threatened to break his jaw, but you cannot argue with the many deaths and inquiries’ findings.

We need to put our own house in order.

www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/04/morrison-says-australia-should-not-import-black-lives-matter-protests-after-deaths-in-custody-rally?CMP=share_btn_fb

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Housing Stimulus: More Middle Class Welfare 5/6/20

Successive governments have used the building industry to pump up the economy on credit.  How so?  For decades the tax deduction on negatively geared real estate has made housing a favoured investment. It has been the no-brainer way to make money. You borrow to own a property, and as long as it is your, all the capital gain is yours.  So the lesser fraction that you own, the greater the percentage rise in your total assets.  And since you save on tax and gain rent, it is far better than shares or other assets. If you ask to borrow 90% to buy shares, no bank would lend you 90%. They would fall about laughing, and you would be taking a big risk.  If you wanted to borrow 90% of real estate, no problem- all perceived as low risk.  How come?  Because Australia’s private debt is rising and is now the highest in the world.  This little Ponzi scheme has a cost. We have the best houses, which are the most expensive relative to our incomes, and we have a huge national private debt, which means that we pay interest to foreign banks and have no money to develop and own our own country.  Like all Ponzi schemes, it is OK as long as you sell out before the bubble pops.  The older generation are doing this, cashing out as the younger generation takes up the huge loans that are now necessary.

The tax department got less money to create this mess, so public housing was not built, and there is a huge shortage of public housing.  Because prices are so high there is also a problem in affordable housing as wages in the real world have stagnated as globalisation allows jobs to go offshore to be done more cheaply by third world people.  The negative gearing thing amounts to middle class welfare, where those who had one house were able to buy more, and those that did not merely saw rents and prices rise.  Labor tried to address this and lost the election.

Now we have a recession, worsened by the COVID-19 crisis and the taxpayer has to step in, making more debt for the future.  So what projects to spend the money on?  More middle class welfare! Those who already have $150,000 to improve their house get another $25,000 from the future taxpayer, the young people of today.

It is merely another example of the Morrison government’s lack of commitment to a fair go for all. This could be a huge opportunity to build social housing to help those who have been left behind.  Is the excuse that the projects are not ‘shovel-ready’?  The government could pay for the huge outstanding renovations and repair bill on the public housing, which has been neglected for 30 years.  Surely these repair lists on yellowed paper could be found and actioned.

Morrison governs for his voters, not for the country as a whole. His policies increase inequality, which stores discord for the future.  This last effort will further the Matthew Effect, named after the biblical quote, ‘For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away’.

— Matthew 25:29, RSV.

www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/03/morrison-government-to-offer-25000-grants-to-help-build-and-renovate-homes

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Mental Illness and Stupidity 3/6/20

Quite early in my Parliamentary career I was approached and discovered 4 problems with mental health in NSW. A fellow medical student, now psychiatrist approached me and said that the system was far worse than formerly.

I had worked as an after hours call doctor in 1977 and 1983 and found that mental hospitals did not want patients sent to them, and would try to talk referring doctors out of sending them. At first they would say it was not in their catchment area, then that the patients were not really mentally ill and I did not actually know what I was talking about. Eventually I tired of this game, so I would call and tell them a brief history, my diagnosis and that the ambulance with or without police escort was on its way.

So when my psychiatrist friend said it was a lot worse I was surprised. She explained that Nick Greiner closed all the long-stay mental hospitals for a supposedly community-based service with supported accommodation, but the alternative was never funded, and the system had staggered on ever since.

Then I was in an inquiry into the rise in the NSW prison population and a government prison psychiatrist had found large numbers of mentally ill and developmentally delayed people falling foul of the law. He explained that if they became dysfunctional they could not pay for the electricity and rent so became homeless. They had no chance of getting through the complexities of Centrelink and getting money, so eventually they were caught shoplifting in order to eat and ended up in the Magistrate’s court, where, if he did not divert them, they went off to gaol. He had a pilot scheme in Sydney and ?Port Macquarie to divert them to supported accommodation at hugely reduced cost.

I went for a long weekend near Port Macquarie and met an older lady on the beach, who, hearing I was a politician said that this made me a cad and a bounder who was of no use in the major social problem which was mental health. Accustomed to this assumption about politicians, I remonstrated mildly, and she told me her story of her schizophrenic son, who had gone in and out of supported accommodation and prison for 30 years without getting much help.

Finally I want to a conference on homelessness where I met a community mental health nurse who described how after long weekends she would go to the parks and under the bridges to look for her homeless patients, to see if they were alive to take their medication. I asked that she write a summary in point form of the problems of NSW mental health. She did so, and her excellent report formed the terms of reference of the NSW Mental Health inquiry which I initiated. I asked Brian Pezutti to chair it. He was a Liberal, and had the credibility of having been an Assistant Health Minister. He was also a very thorough and meticulous anaesthetist, retiring at the next election, and keen to do something useful before he went.

The Labor government agreed to the Inquiry because I had the numbers in the upper house. The Inquiry came out in 2002 (NSW Health System Worst in Aust SMH 10/12/2002).

It resulted in a number of things. The budget the following year in NSW rose by $320 million, but mental health money was also quarantined so that it could not be siphoned off to fund Emergency Depts or ICUs further down the budget allocation tree. Most significantly it triggered a Democrat-initiated Federal Mental Health inquiry which put psychologists on Medicare and hugely increased the mental health workforce.

Needless to say, diversionary schemes were part of the recommendations, as without support, mentally ill and developmentally delayed people cannot do the functions that are needed to manage a life in society. There appeared to be some progress and the complaints from mental health workers for some time changed from, ‘we cannot afford staff’ to ‘we cannot fill our positions’.

As the time has passed, it seems that the situation has slipped back. The history of these inquiries is that there is a fuss, things improve for a while, then go back until another inquiry finds the same problems.

So I was discouraged to read that a program to divert mentally ill people from Gaol is to be axed, because some bean counter thinks it is too expensive. According to the Dept of Corrective Services it cost $181.85 per day to keep a prisoner in NSW gaols, which is $1,273 a week, or $66,375 a year. It is dubious that a support scheme could not be organised for less than this, but the idea that the only thing that matters is whether it saves money seems an appalling way to run society. Surely we should figure out what we want to do, workshop how to do it efficiently, and then work out how to fund it.

If a diversion plan is to be axed, let the NSW government tell us that there are good diversion schemes already working and prove it by having an independent body affirm that there is not an excess of mentally ill or developmentally delayed people in prisons. If such schemes existed, why was there this new one set up? There is a long history of ‘pilot schemes’ being set up to deal with a political problem, and then quietly dying when the political heat goes off.

www.smh.com.au/national/program-diverting-intellectually-impaired-people-from-nsw-prisons-faces-axe-20200527-p54wve.html

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East Timor Bugging Case goes ahead in Secret

31 May 2020 The absurd case of Witness K, who was an intelligence officer who blew the whistle on Australia’s bugging of the East Timorese Cabinet room during the negotiations over the border in the Timor Sea goes on. The bugging is now public knowledge. East Timor took legal action in The Hague against Australia […]

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Charity, Government and Institutions

27 May 2020 The comedian Celeste Barbour set out to raise $30,000 for fire relief and people gave $51 million. She was going to give it to the Rural Fire Service. It turns out that the. RFS is basically a government-funded body which buys fire equipment, and had received rather less than recommended in the […]

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No Target, No Plan for Carbon-Neutral Economy by 2050: Angus Taylor, Energy Minister

20 May 2020

Angus Taylor, our Energy Minister says we cannot be carbon neutral by 2050- 30 years away! Why not? Well we cannot have a target without a plan. And since we have chosen to have no plan, we cannot have a target.

This sort of circular semantic nonsense is what Angus Taylor is all about. He is now taking the Clean Energy Fund and using for that hoax, carbon capture and storage. The man should be sacked for his rorting and corruption, and his actions as a Minister are totally in the wrong direction for Australia.

Carbon capture is just a fossil industry bad joke. A lot of carbon dioxide comes out with natural gas, and is already separated, because of course it would stop the gas burning as well if it went in the gas pipes. So if it is already separated from natural gas. What happens then? It is released to the atmosphere; Obviously- the cheapest solution! Privatise the profits and externalise the costs. So there is lots of carbon dioxide to store or sequester. Is this possible? Perhaps at great cost. If so, it should be part of the cost of selling gas. How economic would gas be then?

But it goes on. Coal is concentrated carbon. When it combines with oxygen it releases a lot of energy in a process commonly known as burning. And instead of a compact little bit of carbon that can be passed around a Parliament there is huge amount of gas that has to be captured from the atmosphere, and stored somewhere, presumably under a lot of pressure and presumably forever. This is quite a problem, will be difficult to do and will cost a lot of energy, perhaps as much as burning it released. You could call it it a difficult scientific problem. Or you could call it a very silly thing to do. Create a problem, then spend a lot of money and time to try to find a way to fix it.

But the fossil fuel lobby wants to get at the clean energy money to try. This has two advantages. One is called ‘opportunity cost’, which the economists’ way of saying that if you have spent your money on A, you do not have that money to spend on B. You spend your clean energy money researching an unlikely solution to a problem that you have created by burning, and you do not have that money to spend on something like pumped hydro, which would allow the problem of energy storage of renewables to be addressed. So real progress towards renewable energy can be slowed. Also you can pretend that capturing the huge amounts of carbon dioxide is a scientifically feasible option with just a bit more government funded research. All this suits the fossils fuel industry who can continue to burn as usual. The parallels with the tobacco industry denying the obvious health effects and profiting from delayed definitive action is striking.

Angus Taylor came from a grazing family, went to Kings School, St Andrew’s College at Sydney Uni and Oxford. He studied Economics and Law and worked with investment bankers and was in a group that tried to buy Cubbie Station.

He may or may not know any science, but his track record of using taxpayers money for the interests of his connections are already the stuff of scandal and have led to calls for his resignation. This last lot of nonsense simply adds to that imperative.

www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/19/angus-taylor-says-it-is-not-australian-government-policy-to-achieve-net-zero-emissions-by-2050?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_News_Feed

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Australia as a Compliant Colony getting Fracked.

21 May 2020

Here is an old but relevant article of how a British gas company got approval to sell gas to China, and pay no tax.

It happened at exactly the time that Rudd was rolled for asking for a resources rent tax.

The CEO, Catherine Tanna was given a seat on the Board of the Reserve Bank.

I wrote to her in disgust on another matter, when I left EnergyAustralia, the Chinese consortium who bought the privatised Sydney County Council electricity customers, because they pay no tax. To my surprise, she wrote back saying that she was looking after her shareholders, (naturally not mentioning that they are all on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange).

Here is an excellently researched article from the Michael West Website on how Prince Andrew as a UK Trade Ambassador, the Qld Liberal Government of Campbell Newman, and the Federal Labor Government, with Wayne Swan as Treasurer all dudded the Australian people. Now we have Qld Labor, and LNP Federally, but it makes no difference. Tanna is still on the Reserve Bank board, fracking still goes ahead, these folk still pay no tax and Australian gas prices are still sky high.

If we do not change, the luck will run out. We cannot trust our politicians. We need Swiss style Direct Democracy Now, with referenda able to be initiated by anyone, and a part-time, advisory Parliament with no career politicians. Yes, it will need major constitutional change, but tinkering with the Lib/Lab duo will not make a difference. A bigger change is needed, so we had better get on with it.

www.michaelwest.com.au/the-second-british-invasion-how-royal-cronies-and-the-gas-debacle-took-australia-for-billions/

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Government Steals Clean Energy Finance for Fossil Fuel Development

4 May 2020 Angus Taylor, the Energy Minister has announced a $300 million new hydrogen project, but has not specified that it be powered by renewable energy and he wants to use gas to produce the hydrogen. There is fine rhetoric about trying to get the cost of hydrogen to $2 a kg, but the […]

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AEC Approves Anti-Vaxxer Party name change

3 May 2020 In a move that will surely damage it credibility the Australian Electoral Commission has approved a name change for the ‘Involuntary Medication Objectors (Vaccination/Fluoride) Party’ to be called the ‘Informed Medical Options Party’. Amazingly this was under the Australian Electoral Act, as it did not allow confusion with another party, was not […]

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Angus Taylor Must Resign

30 April 2020The Energy Minister Angus Taylor must resign. He told Parliament that he had downloaded Clover Moore’s travel expenses from the Sydney City Council website, but NSW Police have stated that they have looked at the metadata and this is not possible.  He claimed that Council international travel expenses were $15 million, but they […]

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