- The Federal Government is preparing to drop or radically rework one of its most contentious budget policies – the $7 GP co-payment.
- The Australian share market is higher and the dollar has also recovered from overnight falls, but Medibank is lower in its second day of trade.
- A Gippsland widow is calling for an overhaul of Ambulance Victoria after the death of her husband just over a week ago.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 27th November 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
The Federal Government is preparing to drop or radically rework one of its most contentious budget policies – the $7 GP co-payment.
With only five full sitting days left in the parliamentary year, Prime Minister Tony Abbott was keen to start 2015 on the front foot.
Yesterday, he told Coalition MPs and senators there were one or two “barnacles” on the Government but they would be knocked off by Christmas.
One of those “barnacles” was the $7 GP co-payment, which did not have sufficient support to pass the Senate.
The Government is yet to even introduce legislation to enact the measures in the Lower House and was now unlikely to do so.
Sources had told the ABC the Coalition was “willing to go back to the drawing board”.
The Government was also expected to make further changes to its $5.5 billion paid parental leave scheme, a signature policy for Mr Abbott.
The policy would pay new mothers their full salary for six months.
Mr Abbott had already watered down the scheme, lowering the maximum possible payment from $75,000 to $50,000.
Further changes were now in the works.
Government sources denied the scheme was one of the “barnacles” mentioned, but they had foreshadowed “further refinement”.
Labor is expected to target the backdowns in Question Time today.
The Australian share market is higher and the dollar has also recovered from overnight falls, but Medibank is lower in its second day of trade.
The private health insurer was down 0.7 per cent on yesterday’s close at $2.125 by 12:41pm (AEDT), having opened at $2.22 and traded as high as $2.23 upon listing at midday yesterday.
Medibank finished yesterday’s trade at $2.14, a 7 per cent gain for retail investors on the offer price, but a 1 cent decline for institutions that bought into the float at $2.15.
Elsewhere on the market, the two major miners were posting gains despite iron ore prices dropping below $US70 a tonne to a fresh five-and-a-half-year low.
BHP Billiton was up 1.1 per cent to $32.46, while Rio Tinto was 1.8 per cent higher at $58.46.
However, Fortescue Metals was down 0.4 per cent to $2.80 and higher cost producer Atlas Iron was down 2.4 per cent to 20 cents.
The major banks were boosting the market: Westpac’s 1 per cent gain was leading, with the other big four banks up around 0.5 per cent.
Telstra was posting a 0.7 per cent gain to $5.66.
Airlines were higher: Virgin was up 0.6 per cent, while Qantas was climbing rapidly with a 4.4 per cent gain to $1.82.
Overall, the ASX 200 was up 0.9 per cent to 5,382 and the broader All Ordinaries index was 46 points higher to 5,367.
The Australian dollar had also bounced back after steep overnight falls.
It had touched a four-year low of 85.15 US cents overnight, but was back up to 85.43 US cents by 12:53pm.
A Gippsland widow is calling for an overhaul of Ambulance Victoria after the death of her husband just over a week ago.
Vi Hooker’s husband, Les, waited five hours for an ambulance to transfer him from the Sale Hospital to the Dandenong Hospital, where he died the next morning.
The drama began when Mr Hooker became ill at his home in Maffra about 8:00pm (AEST) on Saturday, November 15.
An ambulance took him to the Sale Hospital where he underwent tests, before doctors called for a Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) about midnight to transfer him to St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne.
No MICA unit was available and a standard ambulance arrived about 5:00am the next day, by which time Mr Hooker’s condition had deteriorated significantly.
Mr Hooker’s daughter, Julie Hewat, said two nurses and one doctor travelled with him to Traralgon, about half an hour away, where he was transferred to a MICA unit.
“Because it was only a normal ambulance, they said they had to get equipment organised, his drips organised, his breathing unit organised so they could transport it with him into the normal ambulance, ” Ms Hewat said.
“Now this is all stuff that would normally be fitted to a MICA ambulance, but they had to borrow all the stuff from the critical care unit and carry it with him so they could get it to Traralgon.”
The MICA unit then transferred Mr Hooker to Dandenong, which was closer than St Vincent’s Hospital.
Mrs Hooker said she had always considered the possibility of ambulance delays part of living in the country.
Ms Hewat said once her father arrived at Dandenong Hospital she was called by a doctor to tell her that condition had deteriorated further and it was too late for surgery.
Mrs Hooker said she wanted to see something done to improve the ambulance system.
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