Another Bulk Billing domino falls, my Optometrist

My wife and I need glasses to see properly and to drive.

At our age we also need tests so Glaucoma doesn’t suddenly blind one of us.

Yesterday, for the first time, our Optometrist was forced to charge my wife one of the Abbott government’s copayments because he can no longer absorb rising costs with the government rebate frozen for years and other rebates cut.

We can afford to pay the copayment but the impact obviously falls on people with less money who will defer eye tests and hence: not change to better suited lenses and also will risk irreversible damage from Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration etc.

You and I will be at risk when drivers with unnecessarily impaired vision cause car crashes.

Potentially they will also run down school children walking home and its very unlikely governments will ever give us honest feedback: $x rebate saved, y school children hospitalised etc.

At the end of the day you and I pay for state government hospitals treating the many impacts of this freeze whether its people with irreversible eye damage, or the consequences of people with impaired eye sight.

We also pay the increased welfare bill for debilitating loss of sight and pay for other impacts which are wide ranging.

Its not your Optometrists fault, if you have a good Optometrist I suggest you pop in next time you walk by and tell them that you understand what they trying to deal with.

Christmas is close, it would be a nice thing to do.

Mark Rogers


Recovering (some) Community Costs of Obesity

Obesity costs Australian taxpayers more than $5.3 billion a year. Obese people are more likely to go to doctors and be admitted to hospital more often than other people. They are also more likely to be unemployed and therefore paying less tax than the rest of the population but the costs are borne by the whole community.

A report by highly credentialed Stephen Duckett and Hal Swerissen (published by the Grattan Institute) proposes that the best option is an excise tax of 40 cents per 100 grams of sugar, on all non-alcoholic, water-based drinks that contain added sugar.

A new tax is not a “silver bullet” solution, that would require a suite of new policies and programs. But the proposed tax would encourage healthier lifestyles.

The many countries that already have or are planning to introduce a tax on soft drinks include France, Belgium, Hungary, Finland, Chile, the UK, Ireland, South Africa and parts of the United States.

The Australian government would raise about $500 million a year.

One of the report’s key points:

  • Many factors are contributing to the rising prevalence of obesity in Australia. But the primary cause is excessive consumption of unhealthy processed food. This is, in part, driven by ‘market failures’, including consumers having a limited understanding of processed foods and behavioural factors that can limit self- control, and people not bearing the full costs of over-consumption of unhealthy foods.
External link to 76 page pdf, Grattan Institute: A Sugary Drinks Tax
External link, Authors respond to criticism in Pearls and Irritations, Is a tax on sugary drinks “bonkers”?

TPP dead after six years of campaigning

AFTINET have declared the TPP dead with Trump dealing the final blow, some of their comments follow:

Here in Australia, thousands of people mobilised against the unfair deal, participating in online actions, attending rallies,  public meetings, and influencing politicians. Citizens in almost every TPP country did the same and there was a huge groundswell of opposition to the deal worldwide.

We will continue to advocate for fair trade based on the principles of human rights, labour rights and environmental sustainability, and which does not undermine the ability of governments to regulate in the public interest.

Press Release, external link, TPP death result of six years of community campaigns

Unfortunately similar risks crop up in draft corporate driven agreements and recent governments have accepted problematic clauses in other agreements