Jack Waterford raises some serious funding issues begging attention from the Aged Care Royal Commission ('Royal Commission dances around a serious inconvenient fact', Nov 1).
With the need for high-care services growing rapidly, and many providers compromising care quality by cutting costs, the government has a real problem.
By avoiding responsibility for the direct delivery of aged care services, government has made itself hostage to the protestations of residential care providers. Some of the biggest of these are private operators with several thousand residents nationally, each holding about a billion dollars in refundable accommodation payments which the government has guaranteed.
To date, government has funded care services according to a standard but imprecise formula. While some providers are clearly able to survive financially under this regime and deliver quality care, others find themselves at risk. Unsurprisingly, government has been encouraged by its own industry-dominated advisory body to deregulate pricing for care services and shift the primary cost burden to consumers.
Rather than giving industry a blank cheque and making consumers foot the bill, government should continue to take primary responsibility for funding care. It should link its funding to evidence-based costing, using the detailed research now being conducted by the University of Wollongong.
While consumer contributions should certainly be increased, any care charges above the level of cost-based funding should be scrutinised by the Aged Care Pricing Commissioner, whose role should be expanded and made independent of government.
Paul Feldman, Macquarie
Show some real concern
If the media are really so concerned about their right to inform us of every little thing they think important then perhaps they need to take a look at themselves and their selectivity in reporting. Throughout the Banking Royal Commission there was mass and lengthy reporting of the workings of banks and their shortcomings however during the Royal Commission into the Aged Care sector, there was barely a whisper reporting the daily hearings and the sad stories revealed there. But good news guys, you get another opportunity to show your integrity and true colours with the start of the Disability Enquiry starting today.
How about you show your real concern for Australians by reporting the truth of what is revealed (daily) from this Royal Commission instead of bleating about not being allowed to report the things you want to report that criticise the government and others.
Joan Suckling, Giralang
Not just corflutes
It's not just the roadside election corflutes that are eyesores and distractions (Letters, November 4). It's the increasing proliferation of organisational advertising that is littering Canberra's roadways. They promote public and private sector events and are all too often left in place well beyond the period supposedly permitted.
Instead of contributing to Canberra's spreading imitation of American roadsides, surely social media would be more effective platforms for most of these promotions. They may even be less expensive, being better targeted, an advantage especially for not-for profit and cultural organisations, many of whom are currently battling each other in the irritating corflute competition.
Eric Hunter, Cook
Rain won't end pain
The past weekend's rains don't mean the impacts of the drought are over.
This years crop failure means a farmer will not receive any income from the sale of a crop throughout 2019 or 2020. The soonest a farmer will have any prospect of receiving an income is March 2021.
While receiving no income, next year a farmer must continue to plant their crops. They do this without any idea if the season will be drought, flood or just an average year. Farmers must continue to spend a significant sum in autumn 2020 on; fertiliser, seed, herbicide and diesel for a return in 2021.
Right now the situation in regional areas is unmistakably disasterous. Drought is always bad, but this drought is particularly nasty. It must be remembered even if it rains tomorrow, things in regional Australia won't start improving until mid-2021 at the earliest.
Greg Adamson, Griffith, NSW
The media and TV commentators in recent weeks have spoken passionately about the need for more mental health services yet there has been little analysis about why demand has risen so fast. Let me offer one suggestion: can it be a coincidence that the increase in mental health problems aligns very closely with the rise of social media? If people spent less time obsessing about their online profiles and the number of likes and dislikes of the nauseating tedium of their relationships then perhaps their lives might have more meaning. Social media has created a generation who are self-obsessed, and mental stress is the inevitable result.
Roger Dace, Reid
Bring back the unions
It is worthwhile remembering how many millions the US spent developing a ball point pen that would work in space while the Russians opted for a cheaper option - a pencil, when considering the solution to wage theft proposed by Attorney-General Christian Porter - increased deterrence through penalties. One can assume that more people will need to be employed on the public purse to catch and prosecute wrongdoers.
Before the Coalition set about dismantling the IR system and collective bargaining, the necessary inspectorial oversight and bringing to justice of employers doing the wrong thing was achieved virtually for free - courtesy of diligent and responsible unions acting on behalf of their members.
Ann Darbyshire, Hughes
End the cruelty
I have loved horses from a very young age. They are the most beautiful creatures and amazing companions for humans. My father bought me my first horse, Torchy a part Arab chestnut horse for my 13th birthday in 1948.
I refer to The Canberra Times on Monday, p.3 "Buck the rodeo: Activists protest at Bungendore".
People do not know that to make a horse buck, a leather strap is tied tightly around the horse from its back, around its stomach and flanks that drives it crazy and hurts. This strap makes it buck. Yes untamed horses will buck when humans try to ride them but people known as 'horse whisperers' train horses in a beautifully sensitive and gentle way.
I think the rodeo has its origins in America?
Time to stop the overwhelming cruelty and exploitation of horses in Australia.
Penelope Upward, O'Connor
Push for solutions
So Barbara Fisher (Letters, November 3) is sick of people whining about plastic bags. I am sick of people trying to force me to make changes to my life without thinking through the implications or suggesting realistic alternatives. Plastic bags perform a very useful purpose and do it very well.
The solution to the problem is to find a better way of doing what they do. As someone once said 'build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door'. Give us a better way and we won't need bans.
The suggestion that we go back to paper bags at the supermarkets, as she suggests, is not that smart, because they tear, especially in wet weather and to get good, strong bags, you probably need to use virgin wood, recycled paper may not be strong enough.
The best solution, as far as I can see, is to give the CSIRO the task of developing biodegradable plastic, which should suit everyone.
And please tell me the op shop where you work, I will stay away from it.
Stan Marks, Hawker
In a spin over roundabouts
The correct way to approach and enter a roundabout on roads within the ACT is specified in Section 9 of the ACT Road Transport (Road Rules) Regulation 2017 - Republication No. 5, effective 01 July 2019. The exact wording is at paragraph 114, as follows: 114 Giving way when entering or driving in roundabout (1) A driver entering a roundabout must give way to-
(a) any vehicle in the roundabout; and
(b) a tram that is entering or approaching the roundabout."
There is no mention of giving way to left or right. In practice, when entering a roundabout, "any vehicle in the roundabout" will either be to your right, or directly passing in front of you or past you on your left. In the first 2 cases, you must give way to any such vehicle - in case 3, you are not allowed to speed up and pass that vehicle until it and you are out of (ie not "in") the roundabout.
Paul E Bowler, Champman
Discounting our age
Good to see change back to 60 for Seniors card making it consistent with other states. But here is the thing for those of us born in July 1958. When I turned 60, eligibility moved to 61. Then when I turned 61, it moved to 62. On my next birthday - my 62nd - eligibility will be back to 60!
But now at the age of 61 and a half; I'm still not eligible! I'm not sure if this means I can take two years off my age now.
Stephen Dangaard, Flynn
Ministers must take responsibility
Reflecting on the costs and proliferation of actual and potential royal commissions Jack Waterford wonders if "there might be other quicker and cheaper ways, also public and accountable, for reviewing policy and practice" (Royal Commissions' inconvenient truths, November 2).
There are. The chief one is called ministerial responsibility. It involves the minister responsible for particular portfolios, taking personal responsibility for catastrophic failures in the adequacy or administration of their departments, agencies, policies and legislation.
It means that, because their political careers are at stake, ministers will expend maximum peace time effort in pursuing the public interest.
Ministerial responsibility doesn't exist in Australia.
Its place has been taken by its antidote, wholesale corporatisation, outsourcing and privatisation of as many portfolio functions as possible. That way, ministers are never responsible for anything and always have someone else to blame as they pursue their brilliant careers.
P O'Keeffe, Hughes
TO THE POINT
GET IT RIGHT
Brian Cox (Letters, November 4) has invented a union, the ACT Teachers Union. By way of correction, the Australian Education Union ACT Branch represents more than 3000 teachers, along with hundreds of school support staff and scores of school psychologists. If Mr Cox can't be bothered to get our name right, it's no surprise he fails to grasp that one of my KPIs is to get under the skin of apologists for increasing educational inequity and defenders of privilege like him. Mission accomplished.
Glenn Fowler, Secretary Australian Education Union - ACT Branch
I wholeheartedly agree with T Bohm of Watson ("Are our politicians robbing us blind?", Letters, November 1, 2019). But it is worse than they think. To his list of taxpayer funded freebies, I would add the so-called 'administrative funding' paid to each political party with representation in the Assembly. For 2019 this is $22,758.48 annually for each MLA, a grand total of nearly $570,000 a year. Nice money and they get it. These funds are not supposed to be used for elections. Pull the other one.
Gary Kent, Griffith
GOOD CAUSE FOR ZED
Perhaps the selectively silent Senator Seselja's energies would be better spent championing the National Film and Sound Archive in protecting our audiovisual heritage then trying to protect the ideologically driven Schools Chaplain program.
Graeme Rankin, Holder
TOO LITTLE TOO LATE
The Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability warning that companies with aggressive tax avoidance strategies should not be granted government contracts is belated, with masters of the art already having free, facilitated access to Treasury (Avoid tax-dodger contracts, Senator told, CT, 2 November, p.21). Next cab off the rank visas!
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan
WELCOME NOT PATRONISING
What a pompous and ill-informed letter from Bill Dean (Letters, November 4) regarding acknowledgement of country. I wonder how many Aboriginal elders Mr Dean has discussed this matter with. Is he sure that the First Nations people find it "patronising and demeaning tokenism"?
If Mr Dean wishes to be better enlightened on this matter, I recommend that he checks out a YouTube video "Welcome to Country?" by Jade Kennedy. He may find it helpful. There are also other YouTube discourses that would further educate people on these issues, if they were truly interested.
Bob Stirling, Scullin
WHERE'S OUR ROAD?
The long overdue duplication of the road currently known as William Slim Drive was announced two budgets ago and to date the long awaiting residents of North West Belconnen have not seen any shovel activity to deliver on the announcement. As an election year it would seem ideal for construction on the duplication to commence in February 2020 so it can be well advanced by the October election.
Rohan Goyne, Evatt
Time has come to rename the Greta Coal Measures. For its high pyritelevels, Morrison's Fool's Gold would be more appropriate.
Chris Klootwijk, Macarthur
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