The climate change floods, goodbye Jerusalem and a new attack on Medicare

The floods in eastern Australia have been the focus of political attention over the past week, with major flooding events in Victoria, southern New South Wales and the northern parts of Tasmania – there are parts of Australia that going through their third once-in-a-hundred year flooding event over the past two years, and some areas are getting their second major flooding event, just after the previous one is receding.

In total, that’s eight major floods over the past two years, and as predicted, these extreme events are being more frequent. The previous Coalition government turned a blind eye to climate change, since 2013, and were slow the act when events such as floods and bushfires occurred, and whatever support was given, was granted in a way that favoured them politically.

This is the second batch of floods in short succession since the Labor government came into office – and we recognise that climate change issues are not going to resolved overnight – but what can the Labor government do that’s different to the previous Coalition government?

Goodbye Jerusalem

And during the week, the Australian government quietly overturned the decision of the Morrison government to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that decision was made in haste in the lead up to the Wentworth byelection in November 2018, and that’s a seat where 16 per cent of the electorate is Jewish.

That decision didn’t win the seat of Wentworth at that time – it was lost to the independent candidate, Kerryn Phelps – but it was cynical move for political advantage, and followed on from the decision of US President Donald Trump to not only recognise Jerusalem as the capital, but also move the US embassy from Tel Aviv as well.

Ever since Foreign Minister Penny Wong confirmed that Australia would revert to recognising Tel Aviv as the capital – and bearing in mind that the UN doesn’t recognise Jerusalem as the capital, and it’s only recognised by a few countries, including the US and Russia – we’ve mainly heard from the Israeli lobby group in Australia, and they think that it’s a terrible idea, and we’ve only just started hearing from the Palestinian groups in Australia, who welcome the announcement.

Israeli–Palestinian politics is a very difficult field to navigate – and it might not be as difficult as British politics at the moment – but Penny Wong’s decision brings Australian back into line with the international community, so it seems this is a positive move.

The fraud of a Medicare fraud

Medicare has been in the spotlight this week, with allegations that doctors are scamming the system to the tune of $8 billion per year – it’s not clear how these figures are being calculated – the doctor whose reports are being used as the basis for these figures, Dr Margaret Faux, claimed the figure was possibly $3.6 billion – but she has not suggested it’s fraud and scamming, but honest mistakes by doctors – but the media was quick to label this as a major fraud.

We do have to be a bit skeptical about all of this – the overall cost of Medicare is $30 billion per year, and it’s hard to accept that more than 25% would be through fraud, and there might also be some vested interests involved here, with Dr Faux also the CEO of Synapse Medical Services, a provider of medical billing systems, and training services for doctors in these billing systems.

There is going to some fraud and some rorting of any system that involves $30 billion per year, and we have to remember all those cowboy doctors operating those liposuction procedures and charging it all on Medicare – but to suggest there’s $8 billion Medicare fraud going on: there might be something else going on here.

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