[LINK] ALERT: Coalition drops bombshell

Jan Whitaker jwhit at janwhitaker.com
Fri Aug 20 06:59:23 AEST 2010

Coalition to revive card

Tim Colebatch
August 20, 2010 - 3:00AM

A COALITION government would revive the controversial Howard-era plan 
for a national access card to identify every individual receiving 
government benefits, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey has revealed.

On the eve of what Prime Minister Julia Gillard says will be a 
''cliffhanger'' federal election, Mr Hockey has told The Age that 
giving everyone a single identifier for access to health and welfare 
benefits could lead to ''massive improvements in productivity in 
health and welfare''.

But instead of everyone having a card, this time the identifier could 
be in electronic form.

In other developments as Australians prepared to go to the polls tomorrow:

Ms Gillard rushed out a new policy in a bid to win the family vote, 
sweetening her parental leave plan with the additional promise of two 
weeks' paid leave for new fathers.

The Coalition revealed plans to cut a further $1.5 billion from the 
federal education budget, including programs to help the poorest 
students succeed at school and enter university.

Internal emails seen by The Age revealed the Greens had been trying 
to ''stack'' calls to Melbourne talkback radio kings Neil Mitchell 
and Jon Faine with pro-Bob Brown messages.

Liberal leader Tony Abbott launched himself into a final campaign 
marathon, vowing to keep going for 36 hours until poll eve tonight.

Mr Hockey, revealing plans to revive the access card, said it would 
open the way for e-health systems to allow diagnosis using the 
internet, and give doctors access to patients' records.

The lack of an identifier and suitable software had left Labor's 
e-health initiative becalmed, despite heavy spending on development. 
''We've got to have a single identifier for each patient, and 
software systems that can speak to each other, and get GPs and other 
professionals to have a computer on their desk to access the 
system,'' Mr Hockey said.

As human services minister in the Howard government, Mr Hockey led 
the drive to introduce the access card over objections from privacy 
advocates. The plan ran into trouble in the Senate, and was then 
dumped by the Rudd government, which cited cost and privacy concerns.

Mr Hockey said the failure to get the card introduced was his biggest 
regret in politics. Asked if he would try to introduce it again if 
the Coalition wins, he replied: ''Absolutely - but only if we get 
fair dinkum consolidation (of agencies' IT systems) to give better 
use of technology.

''Whether you go a card or not, I don't know. Everyone has a Medicare 
card already, but that's old technology. We're spending $140 billion 
to $150 billion a year on health and welfare, but what productivity 
improvements have there been in service delivery? None.''

In recent months Health Minister Nicola Roxon and Human Services 
Minister Chris Bowen have revived aspects of the access card plan, 
floating a single system to store individuals' health information, 
and to allow government agencies to share a single IT platform.

Mr Hockey nominated tax reform, increasing workforce participation by 
young people, mothers and older people, and reform of 
Commonwealth-state relations as priorities if he becomes treasurer, 
along with getting the budget into surplus.

He said an Abbott government would bring in a tax specialist from the 
private sector to head its tax reform task force over the next year, 
rather than leave it to Treasury secretary Ken Henry.

But he expressed confidence in Dr Henry and Reserve Bank governor 
Glenn Stevens.

Ms Gillard used her final address to the National Press Club ahead of 
election day to announce the extension of Labor's 18-week paid 
parental leave scheme with an extra two weeks' leave for fathers.

 From July 2012, fathers and secondary carers who meet work and 
income tests will receive two weeks' leave paid at the federal 
minimum wage, currently $570 a week.

The opposition said the announcement showed Labor was panicking. 
''This is a very, very small step to boost an impoverished scheme,'' 
said Coalition spokeswoman for the status of women, Sharman Stone.

Leaked internal research by Labor, reported last night, suggested the 
party was ahead nationally, but could lose the election due to big 
swings in New South Wales and Queensland.

Ms Gillard said in her Press Club address: ''We are in one of the 
closest election contests in Australian history with the starkest of 
choices to be made.

''I present to the Australian people the better plan for a strong 
economy and for the benefits and dignity of work. I present with a 
better plan to help you manage your cost of living.''

Mr Abbott likened the race to a cricket match. ''It's as if there's 
five minutes to go in a test match, the scores are level and we've 
got to make sure we win.''

He wanted to give Australians the ''best possible chance'' to change 
a bad government.

With AAP

This story was found at: 

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com

Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or 
sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
~Madeline L'Engle, writer

_ __________________ _

More information about the Link mailing list