Federal Government Policy Issues

Month: August, 2012

The Week in Review

Newspoll Labor’s primary vote has risen two points to 35 per cent. This is its second consecutive increase, and is now the highest since the start of the year. The Coalition’s primary vote remains unchanged on 45 per cent. The Coalition is still in an election-winning position, leading the Government, 53 per cent to 47 per cent (2 party preferred). Support for Prime Minister Julia Gillard rose two points, and she is now tied with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on 38 per cent.


In the Northern Territory, the Country Liberal Party led by Terry Mills has won a clear victory, with a swing of 5.3% (66.7% of vote counted). The predicted result is CLP 15, ALP 9, Independent 1. The election was decided on local NT issues, and particularly in Central Australia and the rural areas, where there was opposition to the Henderson Government’s local government amalgamations, its support of the indigenous intervention, and the perception of it being a government for Darwin and neglecting the bush. While the result does not necessarily mean much for the Federal Labor Government, the loss of much of Labor’s traditional support from indigenous voters  will be a concern for Labor’s Federal member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, whose electorate covers most of the NT, excluding Darwin.

In NSW, in the by-election for the seat of Heffron, formerly held by Kristina Keneally, Labor’s Ron Hoenig won convincingly. With 53% of the vote counted, he had gained 61%, with the Greens candidate Mehreen Faruqi increasing the Greens vote by 4.5% to 23%. There was no Liberal candidate.

Next up, the ACT election is on 20 October.

The Prime Minister held a lengthy press conference in which she answered questions about her alleged misconduct as a partner in the law firm of Slater and Gordon in the 1990s. She refuted those allegations, which she described as false and defamatory. The full transcript of the press conference is here.

Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott’s disastrous interview with Leigh Sales on the ABC’s 7.30 program is here. It does not appear on Mr Abbott’s website.

In his weekly Economic Note, the Treasurer Wayne Swan wrote: “Since late 2007, there has been $919 billion of private business investment in Australia. That’s an astonishing figure – equivalent to almost two-thirds of our annual gross domestic product…. It’s even more impressive when you consider it’s come during a time when the private sectors of other nations have been in retreat, reluctant to expand production, invest in equipment or build new plants. And while investment is lumpy quarter on quarter due to the large scale of individual projects, new private business investment in Australia has been growing by more than 20 per cent over the year since last September – its fastest rate in a decade. And in the March quarter of this year, private business investment as a per cent of GDP reached its highest level in the past 40 years.” More…

Minutes of the Monetary Policy Meeting of the Reserve Bank Board (meeting of 7 August 2012)The Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged on 3.5% despite continuing concerns with the fragility of the global economy, but noted growth in the domestic economy. More…

Stephen Gageler SC appointed as a new Justice of the High Court of Australia. More…

The High Court has upheld an appeal by Dr Jayant Patel against his convictions for manslaughter and unlawfully doing grievous bodily harm. The convictions related to his work as a surgeon in Bundaberg. The Court ordered that there be a new trial. More…


Schools funding will be a big issue over the next few weeks, with the Government’s response to the Gonski review imminent. Here is the opening skirmish.

In her address to the Independent Schools National Forum, the Prime Minister said: “There should be Australian Government support to educate every Australian child – in the poorest and most remote school – at the best known and best resourced school. That’s why our funding model will recognise the diversity and uniqueness of Australian schools and will support the choices parents make about the best school for their child. That’s why our plans will deliver funding security for your schools. All students, regardless of school, will be funded on a consistent basis for the first time. Every independent school in Australia will see their funding increase under our plan. This plan will lift school standards, not school fees. And this universal commitment, this idea of a citizen’s entitlement to education, is not just how I see the funding question – it is how I see the work on school standards as well.” Her full speech is here.

At the same conference the Leader of the Opposition said: “I think the whole Gonski process was at least in some sense generated by this thought that the Government somehow neglects public schools because the Commonwealth, as we know, is the major funder of independent schools, while the states are the major funder of public schools. It’s true that if you simply look at Commonwealth school funding there appears to be an imbalance, but surely the first duty of any serious public policy advocate is not to look at things in such an out of context way. Overall, independent school pupils receive under 70 per cent of the total – that is to say state and Commonwealth funding – of a public school student. Overall, the 66 per cent of Australian school students who attend public schools get 79 per cent of government funding; for 34 per cent of Australians who attend independent schools get just 21 per cent of government funding. So, there is no question of injustice to public schools here. If anything, the injustice is the other way.” His full speech is here.


Defence Minister Stephen Smith’s statement on the Human Rights Commission’s report on the Treatment of Women in Defence, the report’s recommendations, and link to the full report is here.

The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson has been appointed as the new Director of the Australian War Memorial.  More…

The Government has decided to acquire the Growler electronic warfare system for the Super Hornet. More…


The Climate Commission’s report The Critical Decade: International Action on Climate Change sets out Australia’s actions on climate change in relation to the rest of the world. The report is at


Reform of the Australia Council Arts Minister Simon Crean announced the Australia Council for the Arts will have increased responsibility for a broader range of arts funding programs in the first steps of reforming the Council. Playing Australia, Visions of Australia, Festivals Australia, the Contemporary Music Touring Program, Contemporary Touring Initiative and the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy will transfer to the Australia Council from the Office for the Arts. More…


The Week in Review


We are in the middle of two big weeks for Federal government policy issues. Parliament will sit again this coming week. The government was relieved to have a High Court decision go in its favour (on tobacco plain packaging), the sky has not fallen in after the implementation of the carbon price (the ASX is up 6.7% since July 1), and a compromise has been achieved with the Opposition on asylum seekers (outcome still unclear though). Coming up is the Government’s response to the Gonski review of school funding, and we can expect the Government to try to move the debate back on to its achievements in the economy, health, and education.

Plain packaging of tobacco The High Court of Australia has found against the tobacco companies who claimed that the Government’s plain packaging laws constituted acquisition of property without proper compensation. See the Court’s decision here. Reasons for the decision will be published at a later date. The Attorney General, Nicola Roxon, and the Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, welcomed the decision, which means that all tobacco products sold in Australia after 1 December 2012 must be in plain brown packaging with no logos, brand imagery, colours or promotional text appearing on packs. Brand and product names will be in a standard colour, position and standard font size and style. This is a big blow to the tobacco companies, who threw everything they could into this court action. The decision will have an impact not only in Australia, but in other countries where governments are considering further restrictions on tobacco marketing. The ministers’ media release is here.

In NSW the Government’s anti-smoking legislation has been passed. The NSW Tobacco Strategy  will see smoking banned in playgrounds, public sports grounds, swimming pools, public transport stops and the entrances to public buildings. From 2015 the ban on smoking will be extended to all commercial outdoor dining areas. More…

Two elections coming up next Saturday 25 August – the Northern Territory election and a by-election in NSW for the seat of Heffron, caused by the resignation of the former Labor premier Kristina Keneally.

In the Northern Territory, Paul Henderson’s Labor Government has a tough fight to hold government and gain a fourth term in office. It won by only one seat in 2008, by 78 votes in the seat of Fannie Bay, and after the resignation of a Labor member in 2009 has governed with the support of an independent. The election will be determined on local issues, and whether the electorate wants to stick with a competent Labor government after 11 years, or risk the disunited Country Liberal Party led by an unimpressive Terry Mills. And then there’s the booming territory economy – will Labor get the credit, or will it give the voters the confidence to change to the CLP?

Heffron is a southern Sydney seat including Redfern, Alexandria, St Peters, Sydenham, Tempe (sorry, can’t resist the old prayer – “Lead me not into Tempe station”), Mascot and Pagewood. Labor won it in 2011 with a margin of 7.1% against the Liberals. The Liberals have not fielded a candidate, so it is a contest between Labor’s Ron Hoenig, who has been Mayor of Botany Bay since 1981, and the Greens Mehreen Faruqi, an environmental engineer. While the Greens vote will rise from 19% in 2011, with the absence of a Liberal candidate Mr Hoenig must be favoured to win.

Our Uncashed Dividend: The Health Benefits of Climate Action Actions that cut carbon pollution can improve Australians’ health and could save billions of dollars and thousands of lives each year, according to a report from the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA)—a national coalition of health groups—and The Climate Institute. The report is supported by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA). The report draws together a large and growing body of evidence from health and medical research showing substantial health benefits linked to measures to cut emissions. “Evidence from around the world suggests we’re missing out if we don’t cash in on the big health dividend that cutting emissions can deliver,” report author and CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong said. “Cleaner energy, cycling and walking, protecting bushland, energy efficient buildings and low-carbon food choices all contribute to less chronic illnesses, including heart and lung disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes, and depression.One recent global study, for instance, found that for every tonne of carbon dioxide they avoid countries could save an average of $46 in health costs—around twice Australia’s starting price for carbon.” Download the report here.

Commonwealth Ombudsman Mr Colin Neave AM has been appointed as the Commonwealth Ombudsman. More…

Survey of screen production The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is surveying the screen production sector for the first time since 2006/07. Screen Australia has worked with the ABS to develop the survey to reflect changes to the industry, including production of content for online delivery. This year, for the first time, digital games activity has been combined with film and TV production in one survey. More…

Cooperative Research Centres The 2012 Allen Consulting Group study shows the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) program will have produced more than $14.5 billion worth of technologies, products and processes by 2017. More…

Manufacturing Taskforce Report Manufacturing can prosper and grow in Australia if the sector takes advantage of emerging opportunities in the Asian region, a national report into manufacturing has found. The Gillard Government is committed to ensuring that Australia retains a strong manufacturing industry and will respond to the report’s recommendations with an Industry and Innovation Statement in the last quarter of the year. The Taskforce report is available.

CensusAtSchool 2012 Primary school students sleep for an average of 9 hours or more on a school night, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2012 CensusAtSchool questionnaire. CensusAtSchool also found that reducing bullying in schools and healthy eating habits were two social issues consistently important to students right across the country. Environmental issues, such as conserving water, also continue to be a concern for the majority of students. The questionnaire also looked at internet use. In 2012, female students most often used the internet for the purpose of social networking while male students mainly used it for playing games. In comparison to 2010 and 2011, more Australian students are now using the internet for the purpose of research for their school work. More…

Survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has commenced the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey which will improve our knowledge of the health issues affecting this group of Australians. This survey will expand on the 2004-05 survey by increasing the number of participants by 30%, collecting new information on exercise, diet (including bush foods) and measures of cholesterol, blood glucose and iron.   Further information and detailed questions and answers are available on the ABS website.

Cough and cold medicines and young children Parents have been alerted to take note of important changes in the latest advice on dispensing cough and cold medicines to their young children. Parents are advised that:

  • Cough and cold medicines should not be given to children under 6 years of age.
  • Cough and cold medicines should only be given to children aged 6 to 11 years on the advice of a doctor, pharmacist or nurse practitioner. More…

In Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg is starting to realise he has the job ahead of him to meet his promise to make hospital emergency department ramping “a thing of the past”. Minister Springborg says “new data has revealed the challenges that lie ahead in improving emergency department access” and that  Queensland Health is committed to reducing the length of time patients spend in emergency departments, through the implementation of the MEDAI report into ambulance ramping. “This new performance data reveals that in July 2012, just 64 per cent of all patients that presented to Queensland emergency departments left within four hours,” he said. More…

And in important AFL news, a huge win on Saturday night for North Melbourne over Collingwood 13.13 to 8.13. Norths are playing so well, now having beaten arguably the best team in the competition, dare one think the unthinkable? Norths for premiers?

The Week in Review

Newspoll (Taken weekend 4-5 August)Labor’s primary vote is up 5 to 33 and the Coalition is down 1 to 45. The Greens are down 1 to 10, continuing a slide from 14 in June when Bob Brown retired as Senator and leader. The two party preferred vote is now 46 to 54, to the Coalition, a slight narrowing of its still decisive lead, from 44 to 56. Labor needs to get its primary vote into the 40s to be competitive. A large number of people are still undecided about the leaders, with 40 preferring Mr Abbott and 36 Ms Gillard, but 26 uncommitted.

The Prime Minister’s speech demanding action on rising electricity prices is here. She said “People are paying a lot more – in some states, bills have gone up almost a thousand dollars in just a few years. It is very clear that working Australians, pensioners, the sick, the aged, people who need the most help, the people Labor Governments are elected to represent. These are the people who are feeling the most pressure. Meanwhile, some states, like New South Wales and Queensland, are doing very well out of this financially and their revenue from some electricity assets is growing much faster than in the private sector. So it is also very clear that the States can, and should, do more to cut future price rises.”

Unemployment  Latest ABS figure show Australia’s unemployment steady at 5.2% here.  – let’s compare UK 8.1%, US 8.2%, Greece 22.6%, Spain 24.8%. The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, welcomed the positive result. He said the ABS figures show that despite the ongoing difficulties in the global economy, employment grew in July with an additional 14,000 jobs created. The increase in employment was largely driven by full-time employment, which rose by 9,200 in July 2012. Part-time employment also increased by 4,800. Australia’s unemployment rate fell marginally to 5.2 per cent in July from a revised figure for June of 5.3 per cent. The number of people looking for work in Australia also fell in July, by more than 2,500, while the labour force participation rate stood at 65.2 per cent. “Today’s figures highlight that more than 810,000 jobs had been created since the Labor Government came to office in November 2007, a gold medal winning performance, given that millions of jobs have been shed worldwide over the same period,” Minister Shorten said. More…

Formation of new PNG government The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, welcomed the formation of a new Papua New Guinea Parliament and congratulated Peter O’Neill on his re-election as Prime Minister. He said Prime Minister O’Neill’s re-election reflects the broad support he has secured from elected members of parliament and PNG’s people. The Government looks forward to working closely with Prime Minister O’Neill and his Ministerial team to further strengthen the close partnership between Australia and PNG. The successful election in PNG and the formation of a broad coalition government will give renewed confidence to the international community about PNG’s political stability. More…

Indigenous over-representation in juvenile detention falls Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people continue to be over-represented within the juvenile justice system, but this over-representation has fallen in recent years, according to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report, Juvenile justice in Australia 2010–11, provides information on young people who were under juvenile justice supervision in Australia during 2010–11. It shows that on an average day in that year, Indigenous young people aged 10–17 were 24 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be in detention. ‘This level of Indigenous over-representation remains very high, but is an improvement on the 2007–08 level of 28 times as likely to be in detention,’ said AIHW spokesperson Tim Beard. More…

NBN Co Corporate Plan 2012-2015 released Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, and Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Senator Penny Wong, released NBN Co’s Corporate Plan 2012-15, which confirms that the National Broadband Network is on track to be delivered to all Australians.

The Corporate Plan 2012-15 confirms:

  • The NBN is a sound investment that will pay its own way and generate a 7% return for the taxpayer
  • The Government is on track to meet its target of having work for 758,000 fibre premises commenced or completed by the end of 2012
  • Wholesale broadband prices are projected to fall over time in both real and nominal terms
  • The capital cost of the NBN build has increased by 3.9%, but remains significantly less than the $43 billion originally announced
  • The construction time for the NBN has only been extended by six months, despite a nine month delay in the completion of the Telstra deal. More…

Defence Minister Smith’s major speech on defence policy – there is much more in it than the facile reporting of Australia-US-China relations would have you believe –  here.

The Reserve Bank Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 3.50 per cent. More…  In its Statement of Monetary Policy the Reserve Bank expects global growth close to average 2012 at 3½%, up to 4% 2013. More…

I’ve mentioned Verona Burgess’s weekly Friday column “Government business” in the Australian Financial Review in a previous blog. It always has useful information about the public service, where the real work of policy formulation and implementation is done, away from the sound and fury of political conflict. This week she reminded us that the Commonwealth public service is downsizing, as well as the more publicised cuts in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. She quotes Public Service Gazette figures which show that in the fortnight ended 2 August, 263 public servants lost their jobs. In the same fortnight last year the figure was 24. Many of these were at the Executive 1 and 2 levels, the people at the top of the bottom of the service, who did not quite get into the Senior Executive Service and get the Commodore, and who do the real work. This would explain why, when you ring to find out what has happened to your particular policy project, tender, or service program, you are likely to get the answer “Sorry, Freda Smith* doesn’t work here anymore”. (*Not her real name – and sorry, I can’t give you a link to the article because it is behind the AFR paywall, so you’ll either have to go to the newsagent and buy the paper or subscribe online.)

In NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and Treasurer Mike Baird released the NSW Commission of Audit Final Report, which outlines ways to improve public sector management and service delivery in NSW. The Government established the Commission of Audit last year to develop a framework for the future of the NSW public sector. The Commission’s Final Report finds that NSW is at a turning point because of the incompetence of the previous Labor Government. The Final Report and the NSW Government response can be found here.

Osteoporosis fracture risk calculator Over 60? How likely are you to break a bone? Find out with the Garvan Institute’s online calculator.

Good to see that the tradition of cat-up-tree journalism is still alive at the Melbourne Age. Except it is horse-in-swimming pool. The Age reported that a racehorse fell into a swimming pool in Mount Eliza and had to be pulled out by the Country Fire Authority. It’s a Mornington Peninsula thing.

And what lies ahead? Federal Parliament comes back this week, so that should be interesting, but the real issue is North Melbourne versus Essendon today at Docklands. It’s got the lot, traditional rivals, working class versus silver tails, labor versus conservative, Catholic versus Protestant (except we don’t do that stuff anymore, thank goodness), down-in-the-factories Arden Street versus up-the-Mt Alexander road to Windy Hill, plus it’s make or break time for both clubs to get into the eight. Who said Melbourne’s tribal football loyalties are dead?

The Week in Review

Early this week – I’ve got quite a bit of other stuff on over the weekend.

Treasurer Wayne Swan this week delivered a remarkably personal John Button Lecture in Melbourne in which he talked about the values that have influenced his economic policies and the society which the Labor Government is aiming to build. He spoke of the importance of music in forming his ideas and ideals, and most importantly the music of Bruce Springsteen. Here is his weekly Economic Note which foreshadowed the theme that the wealth created by all Australians should be fairly shared by all Australians.

Review of the Fair Work Act The Minister for Employment & Workplace Relations Bill Shorten released the report of the independent review of the Fair Work Act – Towards more productive and equitable workplaces: An evaluation of the Fair Work Act. The Review Panel found that the Fair Work Act is operating as intended and in accordance with the objects of the legislation and has provided 53 recommendations to Government. The Minister reiterated his commitment to consult with the community and stakeholders on the recommendations. The Review Report is available on the Fair Work Act Review website. The Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott responded by questioning the independence of the review panel and said that there are “some serious workplace relations issues in this country. There is a flexibility problem. There is a militancy problem. Above all else, there is a productivity problem. We have got to tackle them for the long-term benefit of every Australian worker. A more productive economy will have more jobs. A more productive economy will have higher pay. That’s what I’m on about. I’m on about more jobs and higher pay for Australian workers.” In answer to a question specifically about the Fair Work Act he said “Look, I’ve certainly said that we do need to address these issues and that may very well involve changes to the Fair Work Act but the point I’ve made all along is that they will be careful, cautious, prudent, responsible changes within the framework of the existing Act and they will be based on addressing problems, not applying ideology.” Read his doorstop interview.

Releasing the Coalition’s Policy Discussion Paper on Foreign Investment in Australian Agricultural Land and Agribusiness the Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott said the Coalition unambiguously welcomes and supports foreign investment. “Foreign investment has been and will continue to be instrumental to the economic development and growth of Australia. We support a foreign investment regime that strengthens our economy, promotes growth, and fosters confidence that foreign investment is in our national interest. The release of the Coalition’s Policy Discussion Paper on Foreign Investment in Australian Agricultural Land and Agribusiness recognises there is scope to improve Australia’s foreign investment regime when it comes to investment in agricultural land and agricultural business.” More…

Population growth in Australia between June 2001 and June 2011 was strongest in the outer suburbs, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The five areas with the largest growth in the country were all on the outskirts of Melbourne, with the largest increase in South Morang (up 32,200 people). Point Cook, Caroline Springs and Tarneit in Melbourne’s west followed, each with growth of more than 20,000 people.  In other cities, Parklea – Kellyville Ridge, on the north-western fringes of Sydney had the largest population growth, up 18,700 people; and Ellenbrook, to the north-east of Perth’s central business district increased by 17,700 people. These significant demographic changes have serious implications for state governments, whose responsibility it is to provide basic services such as transport, hospitals, schools and policing More…

Housing approvals ABS Building Approvals show that the number of dwellings approved fell 2.5% in June 2012, in seasonally adjusted terms, following a rise of 27.0% in the previous month. Dwelling approvals decreased in June in Victoria (-14.6%) but increased Western Australia (28.9%), Queensland (18.0%), Tasmania (9.2%), New South Wales (7.7%) and South Australia (4.1%) in seasonally adjusted terms. Further information is available in Building Approvals, Australia (cat no. 8731.0) on the ABS website at

Housing prices Apartments, units and semi-detached townhouses had a smaller drop in price in 2011 than established houses, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In the year to December 2011, the new Experimental Other Dwellings Price Index fell in all capital cities with an average fall of 3.0%. In comparison, the price of established houses for the eight capitals fell by 4.4% over the same period . The ABS also released the June quarter 2012 House Price Index. This quarter has seen houses rise in price for the first time since December quarter 2010.  The preliminary House Price Index for the eight capital cities rose 0.5% in the June quarter, largely due to price increases in Sydney (+1.4%), Perth (+0.6%) and Adelaide (+0.5%). Further information is available in House Price Indexes: Eight Capital Cities (cat. no 6416.0).

Papua New Guinea‘s parliament has elected Peter O’Neill as the country’s prime minister.

Pensioner/Beneficiary Living Cost Index up only 1% in the year to June according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This is surprising – I would have thought costs for oldies were going up faster. Details here.

TV/Computer recycling Wondering what to do with your old TV or computer? Here’s the answer, if you are in SA or ACT – more states coming.  More…

Olympics – yes, I know I said this blog was to be Olympics-free, but I just could not resist noting coach Leigh Nugent’s comment that the Australian swimming team was not a complete failure.

A random roundup of the States and Territories

NSW Premier O’Farrell in China Mr O’Farrell has been leading a week-long trade mission to China and released research which includes detailed statistical analysis and case studies, and concludes that the type of Chinese investments currently being made in Australia are critical to the long-term development of Australia’s national economy. More…

National Disability Insurance Scheme trial for Barwon Region in Victoria Premier Ted Baillieu said the Prime Minister’s positive response to his detailed proposal for an NDIS trial in the Barwon Region has been welcomed by all Victorians particularly those in the Barwon Region with a disability, their carers, and their families. Victoria’s proposal to the Commonwealth would deliver a better NDIS trial for the Barwon region. Victoria has offered an additional $42 million over the period of the trial. This is more than the $40 million that the Prime Minister publicly proposed for a Victorian trial. This $42 million is in addition to the $240 million already committed over the three-year trial period by the Victorian Coalition Government for disability services in Barwon region. More…

New direction for access to emergency treatment in Queensland Sweeping changes to the way ambulances and hospitals treat the sickest patients will be adopted by the Government, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg announced.  “When the new arrangements are implemented, hospital bypass will be a thing of the past,” Minister Springborg said. “…. simply going on bypass, which is effectively diverting a patient to another facility, is an unacceptable mechanism for managing demand on Emergency Departments,” the Minister said.  “Addressing ambulance ramping and hospital bypass requires a ‘whole of hospital’ approach to improving the flow of patients through the entire facility, not just the Emergency Department. These recommendations will make those changes happen.” More… Good luck with that Minister.

The Northern Territory election is on August 25. Antony Green’s ABC election website is here.

Telehealth in the Northern Territory Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, launched a telehealth initiative that will help remote communities in the Northern Territory get better access to healthcare. The Health eTowns TelehealthNT Network project is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Northern Territory Governments and is part of a $20 million Digital Regions Initiative that will:

  • improve the delivery of health and education services to people in 47 remote towns in the Northern Territory;
  • provide telehealth services to emergency rooms and resuscitation areas in Northern Territory regional hospitals and 17 Territory Growth Towns; and
  • allow doctors based in Darwin to examine, talk to, and diagnose patients in remote areas through the use of high-definition Medicarts and room-based units.

“Telehealth has the potential to save lives. Through high-speed broadband, people in remote areas can get speedy healthcare and clinical attention when they need it. It also removes the burden of travel, helping patients stay in their communities and potentially recover faster”, Senator Conroy said. More…

The Australian Capital Territory election is on October 20. The ElectionsACT website is here. Nothing yet from Antony Green – I think he has been on holiday at the Tour de France and the Olympics.

Jack Irish – Bad Debts premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival – great translation of Peter Temple’s gritty Melbourne crime novel to the screen, directed by Jeffrey Walker, with cracker performances by Guy Pearce, Aaron Pedersen, Marta Dusseldorp and me (in a small role in the racecourse scene – I’m expecting more screentime in the sequel Jack Irish – Black Tide). Look out for these two brilliant telemovies on ABC1 soon.