Posted by: jkirkby8712 | August 6, 2011

Monday – Friday, 1st to 5th August 2011 – Spring weather in mid-Winter, and some weekly observations.

Certainly, not anything to complain about –  five rather pleasant, and for the most part, sunny days – so much so, that in the northwest of the State, and southern New South Wales, farmers were worrying about July’s lower than average rainfall, and early August high temperatures not attuning to crop growing, etc.  A new month, and the first week with almost Spring like conditions, though the weather people tell us it won’t last!  It would be a quiet week at the office – in fact, too quiet, as by Tuesday, this writer was feeling extremely ‘tired’ and lethargic, and would certainly have preferred to have been elsewhere, in fact, found himself off colour for most of the week – for sure, being well away from the office environment would have been a nice option. Did take some time off  late Wednesday – drove into the CBD [but should have left my car behind], ostensibly to visit the Public Library for a bit of family research. Eventually gave up trying to park the car, and not wanting to pay an exorbitant parking fee, gave that idea away, and found my away across to the Public Records Office in North Melbourne [traffic and parking a little quieter there] where I carried out some brief investigations and enquiries.


With Monday and Tuesday nights on the radio, and a radio committee meeting on Thursday night, not many complete evenings at home.  Susie arrived back from Bendigo on Tuesday evening, from memory, and while it was difficult to get much out of her, it seems she has given away her studies. She and Jodie drove up to the Gisborne College on Wednesday, to return some books that Susie had been using while she was on placement there last week!! After a  good conversation on Sunday about her future, I was a little disappointed that she was unwilling to share future plans now, however I didn’t push the issue. As it turned out, the car problems she had been experienced reached their climax, when she went for a drive over to Goonawarra – car would not start [faulty immobiliser, as warned], and so arrangements would need to be made to remedy that problem. Again my help not needed, she would arrange it all. That was all finalised and fixed [at a much cheaper price than had been anticipated] by Friday afternoon.


It’s interesting how neighbourly ‘disputes’ [minor or otherwise], so dominate our lives sometimes, and I guess because of that, it is little wonder that nations and cultures are so quickly at war.  In correspondence received from a friend during the week, she had a couple of brief examples of what are probably minor occurrences, but which if not acted upon quickly, as in these cases, can soon escalate into more unpleasant situations. My friend wrote: –  ‘Lots of drama here recently– a neighbour’s large gum tree has been  hanging over our property & was gradually leaning more & more towards  the rear of our house & verandah. If it did fall it would damage 2  bedrooms & part of the verandah. So that was done yesterday, at our  cost. No use arguing about it, if we wanted it done we could pay for  it. Mind you, they go to Europe almost every year for at least a month.  So of course you can see where their priorities lie. Another neighbour at the rear of our property has been complaining of a  large amount of water flowing done from our place. So the last few days  we have had Yarra Valley Water & the local council guys running  everywhere there are storm water drains. There is nothing leaking from  our property as the metre shows that & there is no problem with the  storm water or the pit. So they are now looking at our neighbour’s   place. Unfortunately for them the previous owners erected the garden  shed right in the corner of their property just where the storm water  pipe & it’s pit are. It has a concrete base, so I do not think the current occupiers will be best pleased’.  The question of trees and other large vegetation intruding into neighbour’s properties is quite a common cause of friction – I recall the lady over the back fence from my place expressing ‘concern’ at one stage that the branches from one of my trees were dropping all it’s leaves on her garden beds!!! Could she ‘chop’ off the offending branch. I didn’t really have any concern with that, just didn’t have the time to do it myself, so she was welcome to organise the ‘operation’. She did eventually, and I came home one evening to find all of the discarded branches and other material over my side of the fence!! Oh well!!  I got rid of them eventually.


Meanwhile on the political front, with Labor having negotiated their ‘reforms’ on things like the carbon tax, and refugees to Malaysia, I think they are trying to divert attention from Tony Abbott’s ongoing attacks with the announcement of various other ongoing initiatives such as health reform, etc.  Of particular interest to me, as I approach retirement, we have coming up next week, the Prime Minister’s release of the Productivity Commission’s long awaited final recommendations into aged care reform and the challenges of an ageing population. As the National Seniors organisation noted this week, currently aged care is a nightmare to navigate, dogged by staffing and bed shortages, crumbling under financial pressures and unable to meet the future demands of an ageing population. As a progression from the Productivity Commission’s draft report released in January, older Australians want to see: a greater emphasis on care, staffing levels wages and conditions; alternative funding options beyond the low-hanging fruit of the family home via bonds and reverse mortgages, and an independent aged care ombudsman. The National Seniors chief executive plans to attend the Parliament House briefing on the report in Canberra next Monday, and hopefully from that we might get some idea of what the future holds in this area.

As for Labor’s health reform policy, our Opposition Party in Parliament [‘my’ team, who of late seem to frustrate me more, than please me] had it’s usual negative response!  Maybe they are correct – as in most of these things, you so often get such conflicting stories from the opposing sides, that unless you are an ‘on the spot’ expert on the subject in question, your acceptance or otherwise of the facts presented simply depends on which side you voted for!  Unfortunately, I’m not so easily swayed by some of the Liberal tactics irrespective of what I think of the government.  On Wednesday, this was the official Liberal response to the Government’s health reforms –   Julia Gillard announced yesterday that Labor’s long awaited agreement on health ‘reform’ had been completed.  This is the third time in 18 months Labor has claimed to have reached an “historic agreement” on health reform and, once again, Labor fails to deliver on its promises in health. Key changes will not be implemented until at least 2014-15 – seven years after Labor promised to fix public hospitals or hold a referendum to take them over. Yesterday’s announcement does nothing for patients, but it is great news for health bureaucrats. Julia Gillard has simply given the states billions of dollars with no guarantees of better health outcomes for patients and has failed miserably to deliver any fundamental reform.  As Coalition Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton said on Tuesday, ‘Julia Gillard has capitulated and given the states billions of dollars to get them to sign an agreement that this desperate Prime Minister needs to look like she is actually achieving something”.  Yes, well, a great bit of political spin, but it doesn’t really put up any concrete alternatives.


Meanwhile, the Government’s perspective on a national basis, was demonstrated at a local situation, when the Prime Minister visited one of Melbourne’s outer hospitals –  the comments arising from that visit, well they could be described as a whole lot of publicity spin also, but in some ways, so long as it all happens, it sounds like reform is on the cards.  Regardless of how you see this sudden agreement [or capitulation] by the various States to accept the Federal Government reforms, that in the past three years, some states have refused to agree to, perhaps over in the USA, they might take note of our ‘methods’ of getting agreement on reform measures, something the US seems to have problems with at present. Anyway, in respect to the Victorian situation  [where I believe a year or so ago, our government was arguing that Victoria already had the best health system in the country, and that national reforms proposed at the time, would damage that success], the following announcements were part of the reform package introduction. 

‘Patients at Maroondah Hospital will benefit from better access to elective surgery, emergency treatment and sub-acute hospital bedsas a result of the Gillard Government’s historic national health reforms. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the national health agreement will deliver a better deal for patients: more beds, more money and more services.  In visiting Maroondah Hospital today, Prime Minister Gillard was joined by Federal Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon and Local Federal Member for Deakin,  Mike Symon and said the local community would benefit from faster access to emergency department and elective surgery procedures. Under this agreement, the elective surgery target for patients to be treated within clinically recommended times has been increased from 95 per cent to 100 per cent by 2016. Patients will also benefit from reductions in emergency department waiting times with the new target ensuring that by 2015, 90 per cent of all patients presenting at an emergency department will be seen to within four hours This is on top of the 20 sub-acute beds already announced for Maroondah Hospital. Patients at Maroondah Hospital and around the nation can be confident that these health reforms will deliver world class care in their community. Victorians will benefit from up to $822.1 million of Commonwealth Government funding including over $12 million for Eastern Health to improve elective surgery and emergency department services, increase the availability of sub-acute services and to undertake clinical redesign projects across the region over the next five years. As part of the funding for Eastern Health, in November this year Angliss Hospital will commence work on creating ten new sub-acute beds and in February 2012 Maroondah Hospital will begin work on 20 new sub-acute beds. These new beds are being funded under one project totaling $5.7 million’.

Applying all this to the national picture  –  “This is a great example of what this new health deal will deliver – more Commonwealth investment in public hospitals, which means more beds, more services and better care for patients”, Ms Gillard said. The Australian Government will step up to permanently pay for 45 per cent of growth in hospital services in 2014-15, increasing to 50 per cent in 2017-18. This means the Commonwealth and States and Territories will share future funding growth for hospitals in an equal partnership. Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon said that this year alone the Victorian Health and Hospital System will receive up to $179.5 million from the Commonwealth, building on $250 million already received by Victoria to begin work on 160 projects. “The benefits Victoria has already received demonstrate this Commonwealth and State partnership is providing the resources needed for much better health services closer to home,” Ms Roxon said.

I guess time will tell on all of these reforms  –  history has shown that since 2007, most the major Labor Government ‘reforms’ have failed dismally  –  it will be interesting to see if that trend can be reversed with a number of initiatives currently in progress!!


Whilst thinking of the Liberal Party, I notice that there has been a reprint of the book written by the founder of the Liberals, Sir Robert Menzies, the first reprint since 1943 – called ‘The Forgotten People and Other Studies in Democracy’. It was written against the backdrop of a then young nation, at the time, confronting war in the Pacific, and the basis of the book was a series of weekly radio broadcasts delivered by the late Robert Gordon Menzies, Australia’s longest serving former Prime Minister. These broadcasts explored the principles upon which the post-war world should be constructed [presumably in Menzies’ view], and gave a personal insight into the political soul of the founder of the Liberal Party. I suppose that as a supporter of that Party through most of my working life, I should try and get hold of a copy of the new publication. Apparently this new edition has a forward in it written by David Kemp, author, academic and former Howard Liberal Government Minister. He introduces ‘The Forgotten People’ with a searching portrayal of the political philosophy of the father of modern Liberalism in this country. He bridges the decades for a new generation of readers [I wasn’t even thought of in 1943] and pays tribute to the vast contribution of one man whose political beliefs remain central to politics and national policy making today.  I guess to many people, that sounds like a very ‘dry’ and boring read, and while I will no doubt find it ‘slow reading’ when I get to it, I’m sure the historical nature of it will prove, to me anyway, as interesting as have similar ‘political and Australian related’ publications I’ve read and commented upon over recent years through these pages.


As indicated in this blog heading, not much writing was achieved over the past five days, hence this rather lengthy compilation of some of the thoughts and interests that have attracted my attention during the week.  A number of special events coming up over the next 3 weeks or so, and as a consequence, the pace of the days will no be slowing down in the near future.  Despite some apprehensions, I continue to count down the days to that date in October when ‘officially’ retire from fulltime work.  I was given the opportunity to stay on a bit longer, and perhaps, if the work place was located here in Sunbury instead of inner suburban Melbourne, I might have given it some consideration, but under present circumstances, the daily commuting in the peak hour traffic, is becoming a bit much for this guy to wish to continue to cope with!!  My ‘Brisbane’ based brother [Ian, ex Army] had a birthday on Wednesday –  he has been retired for nearly 3 years now, and when I told him of my plans during a birthday phone call that morning, his response to me was ‘It’s about time’!!~!   Ian, because of circumstances which occurred earlier this year, is now living permanently in a caravan park, north of Brisbane, and seemed resignedly happy with his new lifestyle, particularly the fact that he was given approval to create his own beloved vegetable garden on his site!!




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