A reply to Tony Abbot, Australian Prime Minister

Posted: August 29, 2014 in Ranting

 

The Hon. Tony Abbott, MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

August 29, 2014

Dear Prime Minister

 

Reference: C14/46956

 

Thank you for your unexpected letter of August 8 which arrived in today’s post.

First allow me to question the matter that has not been addressed, despite my expressly writing about it to your office, the Treasurer and the Minister for Health.

Post-Budget, Treasurer Hockey appeared on a special edition of the ABC’s Q&A program. During that presentation, the Treasurer repeatedly assured us that people with chronic medical conditions shall be on a Treatment Plan and any medical treatment under that Plan shall be exempt from the $7 co-payment. However some days later the Australian Medical Association, having reviewed the relevant materials, responded by noting that under that scheme, only the medical appointment to set up the Treatment Plan would be exempt and all actual treatment under the Plan would be subject to the $7 co-payment. So someone has it wrong – either Treasurer Hockey or the AMA. And those of us with chronic medical conditions under Treatment Plans are entitled to know what the actual status is to be. And please do not attempt to blow me off with what has now become the standard party line of deferring any such questions during Question Time with a bland statement that it is up to the medical practitioner to decide whether to charge the co-payment or not. Prime Minister – it is a very straight forward question – are people with chronic conditions under a Treatment Plan to be exempted the $7 co-payment as repeatedly stated by Treasurer Hockey?

I must take issue with a number of statements in your letter.

“The Government is implanting policies that we took to the people at the election. We are doing what the Australian people expect…”

Prime Minister – the United Nations has damned the conditions of off-shore processing such as Manus Island. The UN provided a lengthy list of matters that needed to be addressed. But by following the media it is blindingly obvious that your Government is not taking the matter seriously at all. A classic case in point was your Government’s insistence that psychiatric care was available to those in the Manus Island facility, only for that to subsequently proven to be complete balderdash at the time the statement was made. When things have sunk to the point that even China has publicly criticised us for abuses of human rights, then frankly we are in a damned bad way. Your government has recently denied refugee status to parties from Afghanistan and forcibly returned them there despite international authorities making it very clear that doing so was greatly jeopardising their welfare and possibly their lives. Such actions are brutally irresponsible. And if such people are now at genuine risk at the hands of Islamic militant extremists, then it is rather hard to believe that the individuals were not genuine refugees.

I certainly have not forgotten the extent to which your Government went to frankly try and cover up the full details of riots on Manus Island. It was only the actions of whistle-blowers that saw a lot more of the appalling events being revealed.

Border protection is one thing. But if you honestly believe such a vast number of Australians support your Government in what is happening in those off-shore detention centres, now that we have a much better idea of what is going on there, then Prime Minister you are deluded. What is more, Prime Minister, your electoral commitments did not include either details about the true nature of those off-shore processing centres nor any indication that you would do so little about addressing the human rights issues therein.

At this point, Prime Minister, I would remind you that it was you who introduced the concept of what is ‘Christian’ in relation to boat arrivals seeking refugee status. I originally come from a church-going background and while now a back-slider, I still hold to the concepts of ethics, compassion and charity which formed part of that Christian background.

However the revelations of just how these people are being treated with some of your Government’s behaviour being cavalier to put it mildly, forces me to ask just where are your Christian values now?

Thank you for informing me of the significant drop in illegal maritime arrivals. But it would be more believable if there were realistic, verifiable data available to us. However your Government has taken the concept of operational secrecy to ludicrous levels. I am sure you recall the 156 people kept in little more than a floating prison and even the location of that had to be kept secret from us. If you want the electorate to believe you on this matter, then provide meaningful, defensible data, not meaningless sweeping statements. How about a genuinely independent audit of the matter to give the electorate some actual data?

Thank you for informing me that there is no such thing as free medicine. I am well aware of that, Prime Minister. Nor have I ever had any expectation that medical care is free as I have been a tax payer since 1980 and am well aware that this is the primary national revenue which pays for such things. Further, I have paid a heck of lot in medical bills beyond Medicare.

Thank you also for describing the cost of health spending in terms of GDP. Of course you were not to know I was an economic statistician with the Australian Bureau of Statistics and quite probably know a lot more about GDP than you do. However let us be realistic. Continuing growth in health costs in this manner is not exactly a startling new revelation. The primary driver is the fact we are an aging nation with proportionally fewer taxpayers providing the taxation revenue. Instead of dressing matters up in terms of GDP and an implication at times that this was somehow the fault of the former Labor Governments, why not go back to that core issue? Is the current policy – given that your Budget has not yet passed the Senate in this matter – a sustainable one in the long term? Most definitely not and long-term change is certainly required. And just as certainly, no one government has been responsible for the situation. However to be dressing it up as a matter that MUST be addressed RIGHT NOW and with some members of your Government including it in the tiresome tirade about ‘Labor’s legacy of debt and disaster’ is frankly political opportunism. And your only real action has essentially been a cash grab which is little more than a slapdash quickie that does not provide that required long-term directional change.

As for an implied expectation of ‘free’ healthcare, the closest I could ever have been to possibly expecting that was in relation to a workers compensation claim but even then it was my taxes that helped fund the Comcare scheme. And you were part of the Howard government in which Kevin Anderson lead the charge to significantly reduce access to that scheme, particularly for mental health injuries. So despite my mental health injury being twice found to be a workplace injury, the Howard government in which you were for a time the Minister for Health, did a quick saving of a buck by penalising those least able to fight back. I was denied access to the diagnosed care I required, the extent of which is not available in the public system. The ensuing worsening of my health saw me lose practically everything. And when I no longer even had a place to live, I didn’t see you, Kevin Anderson or anyone else involved in denying me that medical care, helping me in my search for a relatively safe place to park my car so I could sleep in it due to lack of emergency accommodation. I had been turned into such a mental case that it even drove the great love of my life to suicide. And my resulting partial superannuation pension that I was forced onto just made me ineligible for any form of concessional assistance. That was a classic example of the consequences of quick and dirty slash-and-burn approach to save a quick buck. And your government is clearly hell-bent on the same approach, thus forcing people like me to extend our medical expenditure even further.

Prime Minister – I am all for medical research. However you have left some huge questions unanswered in respect of the Medical Research Future Fund. Specifically – who is going to be doing all that research with the largesse of funds? The CSIRO has been forced to shed research scientists. Other research programs are being cut due to government funding reductions. If we assume that aspect of your Budget was passed by the Senate allowing the Fund to start accumulating, by the time it has reached significant size to actually fund meaningful research, who is going to do it after this damage to research capacities? Matters could only be made worse given members of your Government are now threatening to cut back research program funding at universities, which would only further reducing any pool of research capacity. Again I question your concept of having a mandate to act in this manner.

Thank you for sparing me the use of that dreaded word, ‘mandate’ in your letter. However you have made much in the public eye of your Government’s ‘mandate’ to act as it has and your letter does all but use that word. Prime Minister – I would appreciate your advising me just when you were given a mandate by the public to head to Canada then announce you have committed this nation to a frankly far-right coalition directly opposed to climate change action and policies. I have no doubt whatsoever that even your Cabinet was not aware that was coming. You owe every single Australian an apology for your abuse of your position to pursue your personal biases to this country’s detriment!

 

Yours sincerely

 

Ross Hamilton

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