Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Private health facing ‘death spiral’

A Grattan Institute report says the Federal Government must reform the private health care system in the next 18 months to prevent an “exodus” of young healthy people dumping private health care cover. Describing policies as unfair, expensive and confusing, the report says the current system will enter a “death spiral”, as young people not taking up private health insurance puts more pressure on insurers to cover costs, driving up premiums, particularly for older Australians needing more treatment. The Grattan Institute says government subsidies and financial penalties intended to influence younger people to take out private health insurance are becoming increasingly less effective. “Just supporting the private health insurance rebate is not enough,” says Grattan Institute health program director Stephen Duckett. “The industry needs reform, it needs reform in terms of the way it's regulated, it needs reform in the way the various parts of the industry react to each other.”  

The United Nations estimates more than 1 million people who identify as Uyghurs or a Muslim minority are being forcibly detained and indoctrinated by the Chinese government. In an operation that is suggested to be the largest imprisonment of people based on religion since the Holocaust, the Chinese government began rounding up and detaining Urghurs in re-education camps two years ago in the western province of Xinjiang after Islam was outlawed, claiming those practising the religion are extremists. The Four Corners report has prompted major Australian retailers, including Target ad Cotton On, to investigate supplier factories in the province with evidence suggesting that people being kept in these camps are being forced into labour. Other international retailers are also under scrutiny, such as Ikea which gets about 15 per cent of its cotton from Xinjiang, and Nike which has said it would review materials sourced from the area. 

A 23-year-old Afghan man has attempted to set himself on fire at a Melbourne detention centre just two days after the death of another Afghan man at the same centre. Paramedics were called to the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation at 4.30am on Monday. The man was later discharged from hospital. Asylum Seeker Resource Centre spokesperson Pamela Curr said the young man had been doing well until his bridging visa was not renewed, which led to him losing his job. “He had nothing, no money, nowhere to live, he was sleeping in a car, he was absolutely destitute,” said Curr. The other young man who died on Saturday, and was also aged 23, had received a visa five months ago, but not yet been released from the detention centre. His death is not being treated as suspicious. Another detainee said he had overheard an officer say his medication had been stopped two days earlier. 

Lifeline 13 11 14

Police have seized 380kg of cocaine concealed in the hydraulic arm of earthmoving machinery. The shipment from South Africa raised suspicions from Australian Border Force officials, who sent the Caterpillar excavator to be x-rayed. Co-ordinating with ACT and NSW police, Border Force officers then traced the shipment to a landscaping company outside of Canberra where two men were arrested. It is suspected the cocaine was destined for Canberra, the South Coast and the Snowy Mountains to coincide with the snow season. 

The truth about small government
Scott Morrison’s signature achievement could be the tax cuts he legislated earlier this month – although not for the reasons he believes. Mike Seccombe on the truth about small government.


“Feminism has been tackled by teen films in the past – 2010’s Easy A is still a blistering watch and 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You had a surly, Plath-reading teen at its centre – but Booksmart normalises its politics by showing them as incidental. Through its politically active protagonists, the film acknowledges that young women can at once know themselves and their world intimately, while still having more to learn, which will come with experience.”


“The government’s estimate was based on an assumption that infrastructure improvements wouldn’t actually save any water: that the change in return flows would be zero. Williams and Grafton say the government’s method allows for a kind of phantom count. It counts as savings water that used to leak back to the environment but doesn’t anymore because there will be less natural flow once seepage is reduced.”


“There’s no doubt the pressure on workers is real. It comes up again and again in conversation with union officials and people in these communities. Smyth says the increasing use of casual labour has contributed to a relaxation of safety standards. The jobs are insecure and so workers do not speak up. He says the companies ‘can turn them off and turn them on whenever they see fit. The workers are then isolated in the fact if they speak out it is “See ya later” because they are employed by the hour.’”


“‘It's no different to saying we're going to close down Bondi Beach because there are some people there that have drowned. How ridiculous is that! This is an iconic site for all Australians. I can't see the cultural sensitivity when people have been climbing the rock all these years and all of a sudden they want to shut it down? I don't get it, I really don't get it,’ [said Pauline Hanson].”


“Signs at the beginning of the climb request people abstain from going up as a mark of respect. ‘It is an extremely important place, not a playground or theme park like Disneyland,’ board chairman and Anangu man Sammy Wilson said in 2017, when the ban was announced.”



“Kamilaroi woman and Monash University student astrophysicist Krystal De Napoli said that many early discoveries in Australian Indigenous astronomy preceded modern science by thousands of years. ‘Places like Egypt and Greece are often quoted as being where scientific thought began, but amazing things were discovered here too,’ she said.”


Anna Horan
is a Melbourne-based editor and writer.