Doctor and activist


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Tag: Accountability

The IMF suggests taxing those who have benefited from the COVID pandemic.

4 April 2021

So I guess that would be the companies that had just a part of their organisation drop 30% in turnover for a short period, and then claimed for the whole company for a long time- the people mentioned in Michael West’s article yesterday. Here is the article below from the SMH today. And yes, it is the IMF, hardly a Leftie organisation suggesting this, though the Greens did also.

Tax those who prospered during pandemic to repair budget: IMF

Shane Wright, 4 April 2021

Sydney Morning Herald, Senior economics correspondent

The International Monetary Fund has urged nations to consider using the Abbott government’s temporary budget repair levy to overcome the huge deficits left by the coronavirus recession, warning deep cuts to spending could lead to political instability.

Amid predictions Australia’s budget deficit could be $50 billion less than feared, the IMF has also suggested taxes on “excess” profits such as the abandoned mining resource rent tax.

Governments around the world have all been forced to run huge deficits to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, with collective deficits approaching 13 per cent of global GDP. Australia’s deficit, forecast to reach $197.9 billion this financial year, is close to 10 per cent of GDP.

The IMF, in its fiscal monitor report ahead of this week’s world economic outlook, said that while governments had been forced to run large deficits there had also been an increase in income and wealth inequality because of the pandemic.

It said governments faced difficult decisions on how to cover their large deficits while also not exacerbating inequality.

Among budget repair options, the IMF said those nations with “robust tax systems” could look to increase top personal income tax rates, similar to the budget repair levy put in place by the Abbott government in 2014.

“Temporary increases in personal income tax rates (often restricted to the highest income brackets) were previously introduced during exceptional circumstances in Germany, Australia and Japan,” it said.

The budget repair levy, which was a 2 per cent impost on people earning more than $180,000 a year, ran between 2014 and 2017, raising more than $3 billion to help reduce the budget deficit.

The IMF said another option was to tax so-called “economic rents” or super-profits, targeting those sectors that had done well during the pandemic.

“Taxes on ‘excess’ profits, either in addition to or instead of the regular corporate income tax, can assure a contribution from businesses that prosper during the crisis (such as some pharmaceutical and highly digitalised businesses) and not affect companies (and their workers) otherwise earning minimal profits or incurring losses,” it said.

The fund warned trying to repair budgets by cutting expenditure on services or support to those left behind by growing inequality could lead to substantial political problems.

The Morrison government has pledged not to increase taxes, as the Abbott government pledged ahead of the 2013 election.

Very high iron ore prices, strong GST returns and a better-thanexpected economy are already reducing the budget deficit.

Deutsche Bank economist Phil Odonaghoe said it was not inconceivable the deficit could be half of what had been predicted in the mid-year update.

He cautioned everything would have to go right for that to occur, which would result in a deficit of about $100 billion. Even that would still be a record budget shortfall.

Mr Odonaghoe said a deficit of about $150 billion was more likely, which would set up the budget for future years. “The better starting point in 2020-21 also means smaller deficits across the forward projection period. On our revised profile, the federal budget could conceivably return to balance by 2025-26,” he said.

ANZ economists Hayden Dimes and David Plank said the deficit would be as low as $155 billion because of the better expected economic conditions.

But they cautioned some of this improvement was due to GST receipts.

Due to the way the GST is refunded to the states and territories, the better revenue this financial year could end up a shortfall in 2021-22.

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Labour Hire Companies facilitate Wage Scams

5 April 2021

When I was in Parliament the then NSW Labor Government had an inquiry into WorkChoices, which was the Howard Federal government’s preferred industrial relations model. It was, as the Liberals said, an political inquiry designed to criticise what Howard was doing. (Historians will recall that it cost the Howard government s lot of votes).

But both Unions and Employers came and lobbied me, as did Labour Hire business owners. The Labour Hire companies said that they could get a better deal for the employees as they were negotiating on their behalf with employers and if they had special skills the employers would have to pay for these. I asked them how much commission they took on this as obviously employers would have to pay their commission as well as the subcontractor’s payment. They were very reluctant to be specific on this point as it was ‘variable’. But it did seem to me that the chief objective was to make the worker a private subcontractor rather than an employee and thus remove award pay rates, holidays, sick leave, workers compensation, and bargaining power. The Labor Hire company was often just a commission agent, though some employed the workers.

It seems that this model of getting rid of direct employees has evolved and is now standard in many industries. I have seen a woman accidentally stab herself in the forearm while boning chickens at 3.30 am on a 12 hour shift, a man shoot himself in the heart with a nail gun trying to assemble flat pack kitchens alone and RSI in a hotel worker so advanced that it has made no recovery in 3 years, after being expected to clean high-end hotel rooms, including making the bed, vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom in 12 minutes each.

‘Subcontractors’ may have no awards, no unions, no OHS and no redress when people are ripped off. The lumbering ‘Fair Work Commission’, out of sight and out of touch seems to make very little difference to a Darwinian model.

Let us see if criminalising wage theft makes any difference. There are a lot of laws on the books that are never enforced.

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.smh.com.au%2Fbusiness%2Fworkplace%2Faustralia-s-shocking-wage-theft-scandals-keep-coming-by-the-truckload-20210312-p57a5p.html%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR3FoKWzuLj-nv9W5moUs7K-HmlfV8msxTXhOicq62KM83zMerzWwcFiJYM&h=AT3RrEZXGjEyZeQ7rNBoGGgl9Flo0_zzfDuqRAnUxguMlUcU-J9oiuQGDpT01vJnqPsdtFErgLw0g92bkmtQt_TQ-vPzVqPsWvYaVFbIYosdg1YBYAm5Fke4e4-OdaDB8JwYckGgwuhNR5mltMZO&tn=-UK-R&c[0]=AT2ipxj2y11laB8hdM-suLNA2ij5tamnMBYbjAGX5r25jhtlSzzvd-Dn6kj1lQ88fBiyw1dyFFnNXi8tEuTfOVY_74RgrorvDvqc2EuyAIWBJMbsZjzjqyCneyp7HOlhnr8r_bd9dZtlDER2pMrWsThzMw
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Myanmar’s Army is murdering its people.

4 April 2021

One of the impressions that I had visiting Myanmar was that the army was a society unto itself. It seemed to have no contact with and no respect for ordinary people, and they felt no warmth for it. It was like an occupying force. The artificial capital, Naypyidaw is 4 hours from the biggest city and former capital, Yangon and is in the mountains. It has had a fortune spent on it, presumably Chinese money, with 8 lane tree-lined streets with almost no cars or people and large multi-storied international hotels with almost no lights in the rooms at night, and almost no one at breakfast. The military junta seems totally divorced from the people, which is presumably how they could be surprised that they lost the elections so dramatically.But they will shoot the people to retain power and if people without guns are going to take over from a government with guns, it is going to be horrific. I am reminded of East Timor trying to get independence- was it 28% of the population killed?

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/world/asia-news/2021/03/29/myanmar-military-protesters/?fbclid=IwAR2efTa0rQ84c9EiP4r2-NBWG5d3UyDwYZOXtCMkgnVyEoZqwxxFYJ3IgSk

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Government Scandals

28 March 2021

James Dupres has put together this interim list of scandals by this Federal Government. It is still expanding, but a valuable resource for those who want to recall what has been happening. We look forward to his articles.

May be an image of text that says "In Alphabetical Order. AdaniRail HawaiiHoliday AgedCareCss HelloWorld APSOutsourcing HillsongFunding Funding Asylumgate Icaregate AuPairs IndueCard BankingCommission JobkeeperKept BarrierReefgate Juvenilel Detentio BrittanyRape MurdochPayout BushfireAbandonment NBNgate Cash4Visas INTGrants Chinagate Paladin Chris tianPorterGate PalmerJetGrant Parakeeliagate QAnonConnection RoboDebt RubyPrincess SercoFraud ServeGateCharity SportsRorts StafferAbuse Submarinegate Taylorgate Vaccine VaccineBotched Botched Watergate [Firesga Furnitur Grants GrassLandsGate GrassLan Can't for the life of me figure out why the LNP are not long dead and buried by all this?"

Here are the references for the topics!

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The End of Scomo?

26 March 2021

We have heard so many stories about bad treatment of women in Parliament, that each one now becomes just become one more and focus has shifted to the government’s response.

Prime Minister Morrison has been hugely criticised for his response, which now belatedly includes thanking rape victim Brittany Higgins for bring up the subject.  SMH 26/3/21.

Having protected Christian Porter he is now considering a cabinet reshuffle, which supposed moves Porter but does not sack him.  This is unlikely to placate criticism, and the criticism may eventually threaten his own position. SMH 26/3/21

The talent pools seems quite shallow with over-religious people, but Treasurer Josh Frydenburg seems the most likely and is apparently replete with ambition.  He has experience in banking, law, and international relations.  A son of Jewish post-war refugees, he was educated in Jewish private schools and is very pro-Israel.  It is rumoured that Lachlan Murdoch would like to see the change from Morrison to Frydenburg, which may give the Liberals a better chance in next year’s election. 

Morrison has concentrated all the attention for this government on himself, so it he goes the Libwrals can pretend that there have been big changes.  There is a lot of precedent for this as a successful tactic.  When Abbott won the 2013 electi0on and quickly became unpopular, he was replaced by Turnbull, who managed to turn the tide just long enough to win the 2016 election.  Turnbull was powerless within his party and when this was perceived, the Liberals again crashed in the polls, but Morrison replaced Turnbull and they won again in 2019.  Now if Frydenburg replaces Morrison, Labor remains lack-lustre, COVID recedes helping an unexpected recovery, can they win a 4th time?  No doubt that is the Liberals hope.

Morrison’s track record may come back onto focus.

www.michaelwest.com.au/scott-john-morrison-where-the-bloody-hell-did-he-come-from/

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Sex, God, Anger, Mental Health, Guns, and Racism

20 March 2021

In a recent article about a mass shooting in a number of brothels in Georgia, USA, the Police were criticised for saying that the alleged killer had ‘had a bad day’.  Obviously his day was not as bad as those who were shot.  The Police were in trouble for not being condemnatory enough in their statement.  There was a lot of discussion whether the shootings were racially motivated as they were in Asian massage parlours.  An alternative explanation was that he was getting rid of the outlet for his temptations.

The study of accidents or ‘adverse events’ is a somewhat neglected science.  The legal system has graduated from ‘guilty or not guilty’ to ‘at fault or not-at-fault’, as this makes it simple to dispense justice.  The more nuanced study of adverse events has been mainly done in the aviation and oil industries where a number of small errors or omissions may magnify each other.  The oil industry has tried to quantify the probabilities, which of course is much beloved by the insurance industry, which wants to set its premiums on some sort of rational basis. (How many valves are there in the plant? What percentage of valves leak? What percentage of the valves control volatile liquids?  How many areas can form explosive clouds? What sources of ignition are there? etc.)

A common analogy used for major accidents is that there are a series of discs with a hole in each of them all revolving at different rates, and if all the holes line up, something can get through.  So if each disc is something that can fail, the combination of failures leads to the disaster.

There is then discussion of the environment, the primary, secondary and tertiary causes and the immediate precipitant.

So the headline of this article was an attempt to put some discs in line to look at why the shooting happened.  It is obviously a tragedy and totally unethical, but it is still helpful to discuss its elements coldly and logically.

Sex is a primal drive. An explanation offered for many species is that the males try to reproduce as much as possible, with the females acting as ‘quality control’ selecting who they will mate with and when.  Male libido is rarely discussed except as an embarrassment to harmony or a non-justification for unwanted sexual advances.  The Christian churches have generally had a very negative attitude to sex.  It seems that sex is defined as only acceptable in a monogamous relationship, the alternatives being states of either abstinence or immorality.  The word ‘morals’ has come to mean sticking to a sexual code, rather than behaving ethically in business, commerce or anywhere else.

This attitude to sex has made it an exceptional act.  When a baby girl first rolls over, everyone claps. When she first sits, stand, walks, talks or rides a bicycle everyone is similarly delighted.  But when she first has sex, the world seems terrified.   With boys it is similar, but there is much less terror.  Christian-ethos-based  societies do not seem to have come to terms with our basic humanity and its natural functions.  In consequence prohibitions and guilts are major elements in our society.

In Shakespearean society the serfs had nothing to inherit, so were not really concerned who fathered the village children. The middle class had money to inherit, so were very fussy who slept with who, and the kings staffed the Court with eunuchs just to be on the safe side.  In some Asian societies the men visit the brothels on the way home so that they will leave their wives alone. This also occurs in Western societies, but with the sex industry more marginalised. 

So if a man is at the extreme end of the libido spectrum, but due to personality characteristics is continually denied sex, he may become angry and frustrated.  This is unsurprising.  If his libido is then defined as abnormal, he may be termed ‘sex-addicted’.  Is this then a psychiatric diagnosis?  Probably not.  There is no real connection between psychiatric diagnoses and physiological brain function, and mental illness is often a question of definitions, which change significantly with time.  The diagnosis ‘nymphomaniac’ has gone out of use.

In the US with guns readily available, killing people is much easier; uncontrolled anger is much more dangerous.  Obviously an angry man is far more likely to kill 8 people if he has a gun that if he does not.

In that brothels tend to be staffed by people who are marginalised either by race or income, it is observed that many are staffed by Asian women.

If one accepts that there were 6 discs that had holes in them, one could argue which causative factor was the most important.  The Police may have been keen to play down the racist element.  They may assume that the guns and the ‘moral framework’ are not able to be changed, hence not worthy of mention.

Australia has no gun problem like this, but sexual consent is certainly the topic of the moment. A more natural and secular approach to sex education would seem to be necessary, and an obvious approach is to put it into a civics and ethics class into schools.  The crunch question will be whether it displaces scripture, which increasingly seems an anachronism.

www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/alleged-killer-says-sex-addiction-not-racism-motivated-atlanta-shooting-spree-20210318-p57bqb.html

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Aged Care Reform Now

20 March 2021

Aged Care Reform Now is the name of a group that is working to try to get the Aged Care Royal Commission conclusions implemented. Like many inquiry reports, implementation is by no means certain.

John Howard’s Aged Care Act of 1997 allowed the sector to be ‘for profit’, and a poor system was made worse. At a webinar that I attended geriatrician, Joseph Ibrahim was of the opinion that when the dust settled, the government would do what the big for-profit companies wanted as they had a direct line to the government, and there was no serious organised advocacy as there had been for the gay lobby in the AIDs crisis or for disability. (The write up of that seminar is on this website- search Ibrahim).

Here is group trying to do advocacy. They will need all the help that they can get!

https://agedcarereformnow.com.au/

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Mutual Obligation and ‘Noblesse Oblige’

18 March 2021

‘Mutual Obligation’ is the new buzz word for unemployed people.  If they are to get ‘welfare’ they have to be trying to get a job.   An index of this is to make a lot of job applications, that surely must be the bane of every employer in the land, with an obligation of job seekers to apply for 20 jobs a month and about 8 job seekers for every vacancy.

‘Noblesse Oblige’  is a French term dating from when English royalty spoke French after the Norman conquest (of 1066)  and refers to the benevolent, honourable behaviour considered to be the responsibility of persons of high birth or rank.  The term is so quaint and medieval that is often used ironically. But these days with the growing gap between rich and poor, and the lack of sanction on poor behaviour by the empowered class, it may be that old fashioned ethics is all that remains to help poorer people. And they are in short supply.

If there were mutual obligation, a government would be obliged to give its citizens a decent life.  In the 1950 and 1960s it was considered a government responsibility to get everyone a job and governments fell if the unemployment rate was over 1%.  In the 1980s when I worked at Sydney Water, it ran employment programmes for ex-prisoners, people who had been unemployed for more than 3 months, and people with disability.  The employment was for a 6 month term, and my job was to check that applicants were physically able to do the job.  There was a programme to separate sewage and rainwater in inner city areas and a pipe replacement programme.  Both of these programmes were simply canned.  The Apprentice School, which had about 180 apprentices including plumbers, electricians and carpenters was closed.   Sydney Water’s staff went from 17,000 to less than 3,000, and all the wages saved were simply turned into ‘dividends’ from the State Owned Enterprise’.  A tax in short.  Contractors were used, and mains repaired when they burst.  The government had out-sourced the work and outsourced the responsibility for employment.  The latter was less obvious. 

The Global market place that was created in 1944 to lessen the chance of wars allowed countries that produced things cheaper due to cheaper labour costs to prosper, and multinational corporations moved their factories.  The Americans call it ‘off-shoring’.  But our governments have acted as if none of this exists. An abstract entity, ‘The Economy’ is now responsible for job creation and unemployed people are responsible for getting them.  The government has outsourced job seeking to private corporations, and as we know, their duty is to make as much money for their shareholders as possible.  So if it is better to churn many people through short-term jobs to get a commission every time someone starts, hey that is the way to go.  So it is about how the rules are written.  If the old CES (Commonwealth Employment Service) clerks could find someone a job they did.  No one complained that they did not try to place people, and there was no incentive for them to do anything other than to try to place people in the best way possible.

I work with the Workers Compensation insurer, iCare, whose remit seems to be to minimise the cost of claims by saving on both claims managers and payments to injured people, and they are still paid a bonus if the ‘customer’ (i.e. patient) gets back to work, so there is pressure to force them back.  The CTP insurers are always in a total conflict of interest position. They get the premiums and every dollar they avoid paying out goes to their bottom lines.  The idea that a private market will fix things is complete nonsense.

Now we have revelations of gaming the system in the privatised job placement agencies.  The whole dismantling of the public system relies on the assumption that people will not work without incentive payments and private is always better than public.  I was in the public sector for many years as a salaried doctor and then in Sydney Water.  My experience was that the public sector did its job quite well and thought about better ways to act, undistracted by incentive schemes that would distort resource and time allocation.  The Dept. of Public Works built most of this state; Sydney Water built Warragamba Dam.

Privatised rorting is now a major industry draining resources from CTP insurance, Aged Care, the NDIS and now job search. This is not to mention over-priced private monopolies in toll roads, transport, land titles office or oligopolies gaming electricity supplies.

Will there ever be a government that rebuilds the public sector to put an end to this?  Will Labor just roll over as Liberal Lite as they did to get an extra $3.50 on ‘JobSeeker’?

But the key issue is that everyone has the right to decent life, and if the government cannot provide jobs, it should provide income support.  Noblesse Oblige.  As one of my more insightful friends said, ‘There is no shortage of work. Everyone I know can think of things that need doing. It is not a shortage of work, it is an unwillingness to pay’.

Watch this video re the privatised employment agencies.

https://nsfuw.com/?secure_token=8fb90d8862532ccff17c55370720566372b28b851af78200f9c4a13b9171c28e&t=GZ1ZJT09R&utm_campaign=Expose_predatory_job_agencies&utm_content=30518&utm_medium=email&utm_source=blast
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Porter’s Defamation Case Against the ABC

17 March 2021

Many were surprised when Attorney-General Christian Porter sued the ABC, using the very defamation law that he has criticised as favouring the plaintiff.

What will happen? Will it go ahead?  Will he win?  And what will be the effect?

I do not pretend to be an expert on defamation law, but I did run a live radio programme that called tobacco executives mass murderers most weeks for 14 years and I gave some thought to avoiding being sued.  The advice was basically that if you spoke about a class of people, it was OK, but if an individual was identifiable you were in much more danger.

Defamation was defined merely as likely to lower the opinion of someone in the opinion of their peers, so was relatively easy to prove.

The defences were that it was true, or that it was in the public interest, or it was ‘fair comment’ on a known situation.  (There was also ‘qualified privilege’ if the allegation was made to a closed body entrusted with maintaining standards, such as a complaint to a Medical regulatory body).

But after the lawyers had given this rather bleak advice, they said that main question was whether it would actually be in the interests of tobacco companies to sue a little-known doctor speaking on a little-heard community radio station.  They could send him broke, but the issue would get a lot of publicity and how many people they killed would compete with how callous they were to stuff up the life of a little truth-teller.  So I was to be careful, but not fearful.

Porter has raised the stakes in that if the ABC wants to run the truth defence, it has to prove it, which is hard with Katherine Thornton dead and the Police saying that without even a sworn testimony there was no hope of proving the case.  If the story is not true, then arguably it is not in the public interest to discuss it, and since the ABC raised the issue, it is hardly fair comment on an existing discussion. Most people did not know which individual it referred to, but some did.

I am unsure to what extent comment will be shut down by the fact that it in sub judice, but I think if it is not a jury trial, judges are supposedly uninfluenced by the media, and you can comment  on civil but not criminal matters.  There is no doubt that everyone in the pub or tea room will have an opinion.  If the ABC settles without running the case, Porter will claim a big victory.  If the ABC fights and loses, he will also claim a big victory, but the damage done to him in the process is likely to be terminal.  Most people are likely to continue to believe the story and he is likely to look like a privileged pratt using a bad law.  This is not good when both he and his party have to face the voters.

Also, if the ABC loses, it will have a large budget blow, a loss of prestige and probably a budget cut from a vengeful government.  But the process may have damaged the government enough to turn the next election and Labor may then restore the funding. 

If you look at the tide of history, this issue is one that’s time has come. The coverage and discussion of the issue will make this a watershed moment where high legal costs are merely an investment in hastening a major social reform, though we cannot reasonably expect the ABC’s lawyers to see it that way.

Crikey looks at the strength of Porter’s team and case.

www.crikey.com.au/2021/03/16/christia-porter-defamation-trial-of-the-century/?fbclid=IwAR1_dcbIg1jexXl3TUkooK73YSy9yEIlKjTJ6CvMuE68BSqqZtKENo-TbvU

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