Thursday, May 25, 2017

Population figures by themselves are irrelevant

Posted by Jim on April 13, 2010

Gross population figures by themselves are irrelevant.  Whatever number Australia reaches by 2050 or 3000, the present growth trend will take Australia beyond the projected 35 million in Treasury’s forecasts.

The discussion about how big Australia’s population has to be, first, can we sustain the number?  That means: do we have enough water?  Do we degrade the environment by digging more coal pits and pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere?  What efficient  infrastructure do we need to reduce our reliance on oil to provide rapid and convenient transportation?    What directions should education planning take to provide a skilled workforce that is not reliant on immigration?  What technological developments that do not degrade air quality or add to toxic waste production can assist the necessary growth in productivity.  To what extent can government encourage the necessary research?  How do we go about protecting and utilising the most productive land for food cropping when so much has been alienated by urban spread?  Should we expand the protection of forests and to what extent should we expand existing plantations?

The population question generates questions on a very wide range of policy issues and that is why Bob Brown’s call for a review is the most savvy response to the current discussion.  However, if the discussion continues on in the vein of Gerard Henderson’s commentary, it will be nothing more than a fatuous focus on political spin.  The future of the Australian population is not a one-dimensional question that political spin will resolve.  The nation’s future requires a whole-of-picture approach and neither Mr Rudd nor Mr Abbott have demonstrated the vision for the future, which our politicians owe us all.

Letter to the Editor, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 April 2010 [unpublished]

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Aged care sweetener doesn’t solve the big problems

Posted by admin on April 12, 2010

The Australian Greens said today that Kevin Rudd’s aged care announcement doesn’t address the drivers of the aged care crisis and is designed to get his controversial hospital plan over the line rather than to address the key sustainability problems in aged care.

“What is needed from the Rudd Government is a comprehensive approach to solving the myriad problems in aged care – simply providing more beds and interest free loans for some of those beds does not address the shortfall in the cost of providing care,” said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

“This demonstrates the Rudd Government simply doesn’t understand the aged care crisis.”

“We are already seeing bed licenses not being taken up by aged care providers – simply putting more beds out there isn’t going to solve the problems unless the underlying affordability issues are addressed,” she said.

“What is needed is a commitment to bench-marking and meeting the real cost of providing care. This means for example a real increase in care funding and an increase in wages for aged care nurses and care providers.”

“Many aged care facilities are old and their infrastructure is deteriorating, but aged care providers cannot access the funding they need to renovate and upgrade existing beds. Furthermore, the interest-free loans in this package appear to only apply to some new beds and not renovation.”

“If the Federal government is intent on taking over aged care it will have to seriously lift its game. We’ve seen an erosion in real terms of the value of federal aged care packages – which means that people being cared for at home are receiving fewer hours of care from the same packages.”

“Aged care reform is about much more than just beds and moving people out of hospital. If we want to reduce the growing cost of care, then we need to put much more effort into helping people stay out of hospital or residential care for longer by helping them maintain their health and mobility in the first place.”

“An aged care system focused on crisis response will always be playing catch-up and spending more money to deliver poorer outcomes.”

“If the Commonwealth wants to take over aged care then they need to demonstrate a more comprehensive understanding of the drivers of the aged care crisis. The community can have no confidence that the Federal Government can do a proper job of delivering quality affordable care until they see a detailed plan for comprehensive aged care reform,” Senator Siewert said.

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Wide Bay electorate misses out on cancer centres

Posted by Jim on April 10, 2010

The Queensland Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald, said that patients in the Wide Bay electorate have missed out on improvements to regional cancer services announced on Friday by Prime Minister Rudd.

“Nothing in Mr Rudd’s announcements will help those patients in the Wide Bay electorate who still have to travel up to 250km each way for some major cancer services.”

He said it is outrageous that unwell public patients in the west of the electorate have to undertake an arduous four or five hour round trip to access the nuclear medicine facilities at Toowoomba.

“For the most part, Mr Rudd’s announcements will benefit public patients requiring cancer treatment in marginal or Labor electorates, but not in our electorate.

“Where are the improvements needed to service the region at the Maryborough and Gympie hospitals?

People in the west of the Wide Bay electorate worry about losing their existing hospitals.  The fact that Wide Bay missed out on Mr Rudd’s largesse will do nothing to lessen those fears.

“Labor’s announcements are coming hard up against an election this year so Wide Bay voters would understandably be cynical about being left out again.

“The Liberal-National Government failed regional Australians in health for twelve years and the Rudd Labor Government has merely picked at the bones of health policy where it sees the possibility of votes.

People in the Wide Bay electorate aren’t holding their breath to see whether any of the Prime Minister’s argy bargy with State Premiers will actually bring any real benefits to the hospital system in our region.”

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Reef disaster a failure in managing international shipping off Queensland Coast

Posted by Jim on April 7, 2010

The Queensland Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald said a combination of cost-cutting by shipping companies, a preparedness to take risks at the expense of the Great Barrier Reef, and a failure by maritime authorities to properly monitor international shipping has caused the Shen Neng 1 disaster on Douglas Shoal.

“The fact that this Chinese ship was taking a known short-cut and there was no system where Australian pilots are required on board suggests that the Federal Government has been asleep on the job in managing shipping near the Great Barrier Reef.”

He said the current member for Wide Bay, The Hon. Warren Truss should shoulder as much of the responsibility for this failure as the Rudd Government, because he had been Minister for Transport in the Howard Government.

“The Rudd Government inherited the problem, and the present Minister, Hon. Anthony Albanese, does not appear to have addressed the heightened chance of disaster arising from ships cutting through a narrow and shallow passage through the reef.

“The responsible ministers in successive Federal Governments have whistled in the wind while they relied on the crews of international shipping lines to do the right thing.

“The Reef is a precious national resource and its protection requires close vigilance by the authorities. This has clearly not happened with respect to bulk-shipping vessels off the Queensland Coast and we are entitled to know why. I support Senator Brown’s call for a Royal Commission,” he said.

Dr McDonald said, “What should come out of this disaster is a regulatory system that ensures that all shipping is closely monitored along the Queensland coast. Pilots on ships sailing through the Reef must be an immediate outcome.”

Media Release,  7 April 2010

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Greedy short-cut has put paradise in real peril

Posted by admin on April 5, 2010

“It’s like looking down on an unclaimed bag in a subway,” Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said today after flying over the coal tanker stuck fast on the Great Barrier Reef. Just one other small vessel is nearby.

From the air the pristine blue ocean dotted with coral ringed emerald lagoons of the Marine Park dominates, but the Shen Neng 1 sits below like an environmental time-bomb.

“I congratulate all those who are insisting no measure is too expensive to help rescue the Reef and coast from this threat,” said Senator Brown.

“This is paradise in peril. The Greens will support every helpful measure to ameliorate the threat.

“The coal industry, along with its government facilitators, is to blame.

“Why did multi-billion dollar corporations, on both sides of the ocean, refuse to pay $8,000 for a pilot?

“And for the introduction to our national Environment Protection Act calls for the Precautionary Principle!”

“The Commonwealth must be mobilising national and international technology to protect the Reef and coasts including Shoalwater Bay.

“Prime Minister Rudd must tell us he has taken personal command of the crisis.”

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Population Minister cannot wait until after election for action

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The Prime Minister’s appointment of a new Population Minister to investigate population strategy must be matched by action said Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown.

“After so many years of government failure on this issue I welcome the Prime Minister’s move to take up Australian Greens’ call for a comprehensive national investigation into population strategy,” said Senator Brown.

“But the announcement today means any action to address urgent population issues will now be put off until after the federal election, at the earliest.

“In 2008 I called on the Government to establish a population policy and the Greens currently have a proposal for a national population inquiry before the Senate.

“The work by the Greens follows 15 years of failure by successive federal governments to implement the results of the last national population inquiry delivered in 1994 by Barry Jones.

“Australia cannot support a population of 35 million by 2050 as discussed by both the Prime Minister and the Opposition.

“The major parties population growth plan is outstripping Australia’s infrastructure and environmental capacity and affecting quality of life.

“We cannot wait until after the election for action.

“The Greens have already proposed immediate action the Government can take to manage population, including:

  • Increasing Australia’s overseas aid budget by 0.7 percent of our GDP with more funding for literacy and reproductive health
  • Reducing skilled migration while increasing our humanitarian and investing in skills and training.”
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Japanese Whalers should be facing charges, not Sea Shepherd

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It is Japanese whalers who should be facing charges under Australian law for endangering lives, not Sea Shepherd captain Pete Bethune said Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown.

“It is absolutely unjust that Captain Pete Bethune is facing up to 15 years in prison in Japan,” said Senator Brown.

“Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith cannot remain silent on this case any longer.

“The Australian Federal Police are investigating an official complaint by Sea Shepherd regarding the ramming and sinking of the Ady Gil by Japanese whaling vessel Shonan Maru 2.

“Under Australian law the captain of the Shonan Maru 2 should be tried and face life imprisonment for his actions, which endangered the lives of six people.

“New Zealand police are investigating a similar complaint under New Zealand law.

Senator Brown wrote again to Foreign Minister Stephen Smith yesterday calling for the Australian Government to do all it can to assist the investigations of the Australian Federal Police.

Responding to news that the New Zealand’s whaling commissioner has decided to support a compromise deal at the International Whaling Commission that will allow whales to be killed, Senator Brown said New Zealand were completely out of touch with public sentiment.

“Like Japan, the New Zealand Government now has whale blood on their hands.”

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Population planning responsible and necessary

Posted by Jim on

Clive Newton [Sunshine Coast Daily, 25 March] seems to be quite comfortable with uncontrolled growth in our region and accuses the paper of adopting The Greens’ policy on population growth. Far from being “bizarre” as he describes it, planning policy is self-evidently responsible and necessary.

In The Green’s policy on Australia’s population, one of the key questions for planning at both national and regional levels is sustainability. This is about questions such as whether there is sufficient water for the region and whether waste is manageable without destroying habitat, undermining water quality, and alienating productive land.

This is not just a question of how big a population the Sunshine Coast can support. That planning would take into consideration the ability of the region to provide adequate social services, accessible health facilities, and adequate public transportation infrastructure.

Sustainable growth and its management must therefore address the social justice and equity implications of regional planning, ensuring in the development of South East Queensland communities that families can rely on stable work opportunities with decent wages and conditions, for example. Or that opportunity and equity for all generations is achieved. There is no point in allowing huge growth in our regions if it creates poverty and isolation of families.

Jim McDonald
Queensland Greens Candidate
Wide Bay Electorate

Letter to editor, Sunshine Coast Daily, 26 March 2010

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Rubbish bins before Regional Health

Posted by Jim on

Queensland Greens Candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald, said Tuesday’s debate on health between Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd would bring no joy to residents in the rural areas of the Wide Bay electorate.

On a tour of the electorate last week, he said it was outrageous that some residents in the electorate have to travel well in excess of 200 kilometres to get an MRI scan in Toowoomba.

“Residents of Murgon and the South Burnett who are ill enough to need an MRI scan have to travel more than 220 kilometres to Toowoomba for tests,” he said. That’s around two and three-quarter hours. Each way.

“When you are unwell enough to need the scan, it is an arduous journey. It is crazy that there is a public hospital in Murgon, and the nearest nuclear medicine facility is a 450 kilometres round trip. We’re not talking about the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory here. It’s the South Burnett.”

Dr McDonald said, “It is a national disgrace that twenty years of grandstanding about health have left the regions under-resourced.

“The health debate has to be about how much longer people in the Wide Bay electorate and other regional areas with small towns will have to suffer from the lack of facilities.

“This is a real question for a patient in the South Burnett region suffering pain while Abbot and Rudd grandstand and score points off each other.

“The Liberal-National Government failed regional Australians and the electorate in health for twelve years and the Rudd Labor Government has done no better.”

He said the real priority for Kevin Rudd’s infrastructure program should have been about how better to improve conditions for regional Queenslanders in cooperation with the State Government
“People in the Wide Bay electorate worry about losing their existing hospitals. So, what does the Federal Government do with infrastructure spending in Murgon?

“They installed a row of new rubbish bins in the middle of town with pretty signs about their infrastructure program! Meanwhile, the health service situation for people who live in the rural communities of Wide Bay is no better after billions of dollars have been spent.

“Both the Labor Government and the Liberal-National Coalition at State and Federal levels have had plenty of time to improve health services for regional Australians. They have failed. The bins are symbolic of what is wrong with both parties,” he said.

Media Release, 21 March 2010

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Sustainability for Commercial and Recreational Fishing Essential

Posted by Jim on

The Queensland Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald, welcomed Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett’s announcement of a review of fishing off the Cooloola Coast and Fraser Island.

He said Mr Garrett seems to be taking a comprehensive approach, but we will be watching to ensure that this doesn’t turn into another half-baked exercise. Local fishery concerns are right to be upset by a succession of reviews because earlier approaches failed to address all the issues.

Dr McDonald said, “It makes sense to ensure that fisheries are maintained at sustainable levels. Responsible elements of the fishing industry support quotas and protection of fish nurseries, so they can prosper into the future. It’s the cowboys who are the problem.”

The Greens have long advocated managing both recreational and commercial fisheries to sustain the population of native freshwater fish and fish in the ocean.

“This means protecting the habitat of fish nurseries in the wild. Marine parks are important for this and the Nationals have supported the Greens in the past on increasing the number of reserves.

“Some recreational fishing groups have habitually misrepresented The Greens’ policy on fishing, alleging that we would ban fishing altogether. That is plainly untrue,” he said, “And I wonder at their motives.

“Only when there is protection of the biodiversity of fish and of their environment can our grandchildren and their grandchildren participate in the joys of fishing. All responsible anglers and the industry would want that.

“If Mr Garrett’s review does not achieve that objective he will have not only failed the fishing industry but consumers and future generations.”

Media Release, 27 March 2010

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