Doctor and activist


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Tag: Government

Ex-Solicitor-General Calls for Inquiry into Porter’s Rape Allegation

14 March 2021

The former Solicitor-General, Justin Gleeson has made the case as to why there needs to be an investigation into Katherine Thornton’s rape allegation against Attorney-General, Christian Porter.

The mechanism for this would be that Morrison should ask the Solicitor-General for advice as to the situation.  This Morrison has so far declined to do. 

Interestingly, Justin Gleeson was highly respected Solicitor-General who resigned in 2016 after a very public argument with the then Attorney-General George Brandis, when Brandis wanted all referrals to the Solicitor-General to go through his office.  Gleeson felt that this was restricting his freedom to give advice and effectively politicising his office.  Prior to Brandis’ restriction he had made a statement about the legality of refugee legislation. (Guardian 24/10/16)  The Prime Minister not asking the Solicitor-General now and the Solicitor-General not making a statement does sound like the same issue.  Brandis, like Porter, was also accused of making poor appointments (of political party hacks) to judicial bodies. 

In terms of the reasons for having an inquiry into the rape allegation, this opinion is as good as it gets.  At least as an ex-Solicitor-General, Gleeson can speak publicly.

www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-09/christian-porter-historical-rape-allegation-gleeson/13229880

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Scathing PWC Report Finds Perottet’s iCare Incompetent

6 March 2021

A 100 Page report by consulting from international PWC (Price Waterhouse Coopers ) found weakness in performance and governance, and the Board did not hold management to account. 

We might also consider that the Minister, Dominic Perottet did not hold the Board accountable, and appears to show no interest at all in the injured people for whom the whole scheme supposedly exists. We might note that no doctors or patients appear to have been interviewed either- Hey, it’s all about money you know!  One could ask why PWC did a report when Justice McDougall was simultaneously doing one that it coming out in April?  Perhaps he is a lawyer and does not know enough about money.

The bottom line is that it was run from the top by people who only knew about money with little input about its proper function from the people at the coal face, who presumably should have some knowledge of the people that they are supposedly helping.  (I say that with reservation, as the case managers that I deal with have high turnover, little insight and seem to assume that a large percentage of their cases are fraudulent, the doctors are hell-bent on inventing pathologies to over-treat and they have to follow elaborate protocols designed to ensure that no one could under any circumstances get one cent more than was absolutely necessary).

So we digest the Management-speak of this report and await the McDougall report which had terms of reference that allowed little input from patients or doctors, held no hearings and seemed to exist principally to take the heat off the Minister from last August until its April release.

It seems that there has been a generic concept since the 1980s that managers know best, that other degrees and knowledge from lesser beings or lesser ranks and incomes are not of value or to be listened to.  It has come unstuck in so many situations that its time that some little boy (or girl) points out that ‘The Emperors have no Clothes’.  Then we can go back to an older time, where people had appropriate training, worked their way up, knew their jobs, were promoted on merit and had small salary increments reflecting their incremental status rise.  But I suppose that this would rely on people having permanent jobs and depower the whole new managerial class and their symbiotic consultants and reduce the workplace ‘flexibility’ that allows the obscene salaries at the top and insecurity at the bottom. 

If Anglo society does not want to fall to more realistic societies in Germany and Asia, there needs to be a large rethink of the Harvard 1980s management nonsense that is the foundation of these sort of debacles.

www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/scathing-icare-review-finds-a-need-for-cultural-change-20210301-p576tq.html

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Governments are Simply Bought

3 February 2021

As we observe a seemingly endless litany of government decisions that are not just bad, but are totally against the public interest and wants, we might wonder why. Are politicians less principled than formerly?  Are they of lower calibre?  Is it just all about marketing?

Some long-term trends have to be looked at. At Bretton Woods in 1944 world leaders considered how to lessen the chance of future wars.  The two world war had been because emerging powers  needed markets that were closed to them. So ‘Free Trade’ was the cry that would allow the world to benefit from the free movement of goods from the places that produced them most efficiently to where they were wanted. Governments would not be able to get in the way. This trend has increased, helped by technologies in transport that have lowered freight costs.  Countries that have done well have risen, countries that cannot get a premium on their products have gone down.  But multinational companies have been able to evade taxes and develop oligopolies that allow super-normal prof its.  Multinational companies are now richer than many countries, so governments’ power has hugely lessened in relation to these companies.  So the companies often tell the governments what to do rather than vice-versa. Really good people used to go into government with a vision for their country’s future.  Now these people often go into business, raising the question whether our politicians are second tier.  Marketing is also much more sophisticated, and targeting is very important. Once it is recognised that what determines an election is a few percent in a few seats, the question is how to change those few minds.  So research and election donations become critical.    I have spoken to Ministers who seriously believe that they cannot oppose the industries that are the key players in their portfolio area. And if they believe that, that will certainly be the outcome.

Decisions like the inability of Australia to oppose the coal industry in the Climate ‘debate’, to avoid fracking when the gas industry sold gas on the assumption that it could frack for more, cal mining under dams, property development that sells iconic museums or demands higher dam walls are examples of governments doing what monied donors want.  But the pork-barrelling to ‘look after our own’ is a new low in political behaviour.  It has been coming for a while. 

When I was in Parliament I followed up the award of a contract for disability services in the Hunter region, which had not gone to the incumbents who had been considered to be doing quite a good job.  Investigations showed that there had been an exemplary selection process done in the public service, with the incumbent narrowly winning from another provider in the area, both with scores in the high nineties .  The contract went to another tenderer with a score in the 50s. Scrawled across the file was a minder’s note, ‘This one more innovative- support them’.  The Minister did. The minder went off to be CEO of the winning tenderer.  The unsuccessful tenderers withdrew in disgust.  Sadly, this did not come out for some time, so the successful tenderer was then established and the unsuccessful downsized so the decision could not be reversed.   Someone in the office was temporarily stood down.  It was an example of Ministers over-riding neutral selection processes, which is now so commonplace that Gladys Berejeklian assures us it is normal and the Federal government also acts as if this is so. Perhaps soon there will no public service process at all; why bother making potential trouble?

So with government believing that they cannot act against vested interests and also able to buy power with marketing money, it is hardly surprising that industries donate, especially when there is nothing stopping them.  Ministers who are not particularly clever, but have good party connections can also leave politics for lobbying positions in the industries that they formerly were responsible for, having contacts in both the government and the responsible Departments.

As the power and the image of politicians fall, so do party numbers allowing more branch-stacking and nepotism.  Some years ago, Christians, noting their numbers falling in the census made a huge effort to get into the political system to maintain their privileged tax deductible status and school system, so now they are represented in Cabinet way more than in society in general. So there is yet another strong lobby within the system- the religion industry.

These problems are part of long-term trends with technological and economic drivers.  My own view is history is driven by these forces more than by anything governments want to do.  Politicians now have a career structure where their interests are different from the public interest and this will never be reconciled.  So we need a new conceptual framework.  The power must be taken from the politicians and given back to the people.  The government of Switzerland acts similarly to ours except that there are more political parties sharing power, so there is never an absolute majority with governments able to do whatever they like.  More importantly, the people have plebiscites quarterly at Federal, Canton (State equivalent) and local levels.  If there is enough signatures, an issue is put to plebiscite and the result is binding on governments. Legislation can be overturned if the petitions get enough signatures within a statutory time.  So governments govern, but remain aware that they cannot do what they like.  Politicians are all part-time and keep their jobs, which are also their post-parliament continuing careers.  They are also limited to 2 terms, so that they do not have a political career structure that they can put ahead of the public interest.

It is time to change the constitution to lessen the power of the governments.  Restricting political donations should be tried, but I watched as people tried to stop the tobacco industry buying influence. When TV ads were banned, they had ‘sponsorships’ around the grounds and it took 26 years to get rid of these as sponsored sport sang for its supper. Ethnic clubs, Sports Foundations, Rescue boats, Charities, disabled groups; all manner of potential lobbyists were gifted and sang for their supper or donated in kind.  If someone has money and wants to help you, and you want to be helped there are a million ways to get around impediments. Those who think a donation limit will stop the problem are frankly naïve, though I am not saying it should not be done.  It establishes a principle at least, so that we can chase the avoidances.  But more substantial change is needed, a new constitution to lessen the power of Parliaments on the Swiss model.

www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/hidden-donations-highlight-grave-weakness-of-australian-democracy-20210131-p56y70.html

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Welfare Repayment for Some- Nick Scali Optional?

6 February 2021

We all saw the callous and incompetent saga of Robodebt, where the tax database and the welfare database were imperfectly matched, the welfare recipients were accused of understating their incomes and put in the unenviable position of having to prove that they system was wrong, as their support payments were cut to below survival level.

Now we see some companies who are doing very well getting Jobkeeper and being asked politely if they would mind paying it back.

Nick Scali, the furniture retailer has done very well out of the lockdown as people still at home and working, with forced saving on their out of home recreations have upgraded their furnishings.  His profit has risen 99% to $40 million, and the share price  from $3 to $10.51 in the last 12 months.  The dividends are up 60%.  Nick Scali as the major shareholder with 13% of the company will make $4.4 million personally.  The company has received $3.5 million in Jobkeeper payments, so Labor MP Andrew Leigh has asked that it be repaid.  Of course, Scali has done nothing illegal and has taken money that companies were entitled to.  But the Government which is so careful and niggardly when it comes to poorer people getting money is totally silent on this situation. They are very thorough when it comes to giving out Jobseeker or any type of pension, yet seem unable to restrict much more generous handouts to business, let alone having a mechanism to get it back.   The stockmarket profit reporting season is just starting so we are likely to see many more examples of this.

The only explanation I can find is ‘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.’ — in Matthew 25:29, Revised Standard Version.

www.smh.com.au/business/companies/nick-scali-s-profits-double-in-covid-boom-triggering-dividend-bonanza-20210204-p56zfl.html

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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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Giving Out Money Problems

Giving Out Money is not easy. Many are worried about big charities- how much actually gets to the people who need it? The government has not managed to give out the Bushfire relief money and it seem that neither has the Red Cross. Now they are promising help for the Corona Virus epidemic- do they […]

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