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Issue #1720      February 24, 2016


The work-for–the dole scheme was a brain child of the Howard government. It started in 1998 and its stated goal was to motivate people, especially young people in finding jobs. From the very beginning the critics of the scheme described it as “cruel and punitive”. The emphasis was placed on the unemployed and their “work ethic” or the absence of it as the primary source of youth unemployment. Globalisation, the exploitation of unskilled labour, increased use of labour-saving technologies in industry, collapse of many manufacturing industries were not taken into consideration. A 2013 examination of Department of Employment data revealed the program is one of the least effective ways to help people to find jobs. Now a new report (which cost $340,000 to prepare) concluded that the scheme is hardly working. A two percentage point increase in the probability of job seekers having a job placement is not a great outcome considering the $1 billion spent on it in three years.

Victorian hospitals are facing a funding crisis that could lead to a drastic reduction in health services. The federal government is cutting $73 million in funding to Victoria. It will be an equivalent of 12,000 elective surgery procedures or 180,000 emergency department presentations or covering chemotherapy for 72,000 patients. Victorian president of the AMA Tony Bartone said the cut was an “extremely disappointing and ludicrous action by the federal government. In 2012 we saw the federal government cut $107 million from the Victorian health budget and the effects were immediate and severe. Thousands of elective surgeries were cancelled, operating theatres, hospital beds were closed and hospital staff lost their jobs,” he said. Victorian health providers have based all their care planning on the basis of getting the money as promised by the federal government. To remove $73 million from the health system with only four and a half months to go before the end of the financial year is madness. As Mr Bartone pointed out “operating budgets and service levels are already well underway and the only way for hospitals to achieve these cuts is to immediately and substantially reduce service provision”.

Hobart is the home to many of the 110 CSIRO scientists who are involved in climate monitoring and modelling and whose jobs are on the line. These two main programs face the axe and Australia is under international scrutiny as two major scientific events will be taking place there in March and May. CSIRO scientists have submitted papers to the International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS) conference. They are also involved in research into the effects of ocean acidification and will be taking part in “The Ocean in a High CO2 World” conference in May. While the value of Australian research is not in question, the decision to dismantle most of the climate monitoring and modelling capability is. A shockingly bad and short-sighted decision which is making many international scientists wonder.

Next article – Region Briefs

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