It’s Medicare that needs scrutiny, not our GPs

It is a shame that the release of the important review of the Medicare system is seen as another opportunity for doctor-bashing (“This review blows apart the ‘nothing to see here’ defence”, April 4). Centrelink payments are an important safety net for people who have no other income; it is not perfect and open to rorting, but the tired old “welfare cheat” propaganda has hopefully been laid to rest since the robo-debt debacle. Similarly, it is the way Medicare is administered that is the issue; most doctors are not fraudulent. Of course, the other glaring omissions in any reporting on this issue are, firstly, Medicare rebates are not only paid for services provided by doctors; physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists and a range of other health providers also attract Medicare payments. Secondly, the public has not been invested in the viability of the Medicare system. As a GP, I have always had a constant stream of patients requesting, sometimes demanding, services, referrals and medications that are either inappropriate or they are not eligible for. It is in everyone’s interests that primary healthcare remains affordable, accessible and sustainable. Marie Healy, Redfern

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

Once upon a time at the beginning of my working life, the federal government used to have within its departments and authorities, teams of internal auditors (“Medicare mired in waste”, April 4). These would arrive without notice and check the work done by employees. This happened particularly in places where government monies were allocated to outside bodies. I doubt this is done any longer as journalists’ stories now lead to enquiries set up by ministers or heads of departments which provide a framework for remedying failings. Reports by external bodies are expensive and time-consuming. It would seem that it is more efficient and effective to nip any problems in the bud rather than wait what is usually a very long time to have things brought to attention and then fixed. Has any recent government or political party examined these solutions to what seems to be a growth of malfeasance and direct incompetence? Julia Bovard, North Sydney

Relating to Medicare issues, it is beyond me why patients, with a long-standing relationship with a specialist, need to get additional referrals from their GP. Surely, fixing that would help reduce the cost of our crucial scheme. Dennis Fardy, Warriewood

When I look at the results of the report into Medicare and my own personal experience, I have to say that I think there is rorting going on. Back in early 2020 I consulted a doctor. Last year when checking my Medicare history, I noticed there were two separate charges by different doctors on that day. I only had one consultation. Michael McFadyen, Kareela

Surprise, surprise: (“Medicare is haemorrhaging up to $3 billion dollars a year in waste”),  April 4. Historically, anytime a government supports the paying out of public funds to individuals or institutions there will be a percentage of the population who see fraud as a “victimless crime”, especially when they are involved in the bogus claiming of taxpayers money: Medicare, NDIS, childcare, pink batts, solar panels. The list goes on. Sadly, this results in less money for those who rely on this important funding, but remember “it’s only a rort if you are not in on it”. Bruce Cuneo, Mortdale

Liberals struggling to keep their heads above water

How refreshing it is to see a prominent Liberal openly acknowledge that “we’ve allowed wealth to accumulate in property as an asset and investment class through favourable tax concessions and superannuation treatment” (“Lessons for Liberals in Aston poll”, April 4). Good Lord – next thing you know we’ll see Coalition policies promising reforms to negative gearing and capital gains tax on property sales, an end to refunds of franking credits and re-imposition of the tax on superannuation withdrawals, so short-sightedly removed by John Howard in 2006. Col Nicholson, Hawks Nest

Tony Barry admits that “housing and superannuation policies … have demonstrably favoured retirees” – clearly, therefore, not governing for the good of all Australians. In fact, nowhere in his dissertation does he give any indication that governing for the common good is the goal of government; if anything, he wants to implement more class-based favouritism by introducing “income tax cuts for aspirational voters and a more reasonable taxation regime for asset-holders”. No wonder the Liberals have become a stench. David Gordon, Cranebrook


<p>Credit:John Shakespeare

Nick Bryant made three perceptive and memorable comments (“How Dutton’s doing the PM’s job”, April 4). First: “The fact that Tasmania provides the Liberals with their only seat of state power makes them look even more like a party in exile”. Second: “Peter Dutton is making the Liberals the natural party of opposition”. Third: “The Liberals face a political climate emergency”, an oblique reference to the Liberals’ devil-may-care attitude to climate change. Taken together, these quotes are a stark illustration of why the ex-Queensland cop has a mountain of work ahead of him just to get the Liberals’ head above water. Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin (ACT)

The Coalition started on the road to nowhere when they ditched Malcolm Turnbull in favour of Morrison. They veered right when they should have veered left to the centre lane. Along with the Labor Party, the teals have taken up the running. Dutton needs to remove his blinkers and acknowledge that issues such as climate change, the environment and the Voice are real factors influencing the electorate not to mention the paucity of females in their ranks. Geoff Simmons, Belrose

“Ultra-conservatives stuck in the past will stay there” (Letters, April 4). I thought the entire point of being ultra-conservative was to remain stuck in the past, apparently some time in the 1950s. My question today is: where in the past were they stuck before then? Richard Murnane, Hornsby

Instead of labelling them the “opposition” we could call them the “alternative”, it just might encourage them to be constructive. Though I doubt it. Peter Lane, Margaret River (WA)

Cabinet stands in curious contrast

Chris Minns’ new cabinet is a marked contrast with the NSW Coalition’s last team (“Women to comprise half of cabinet”, April 4).

The 50-50 gender split in Minns’ cabinet contrasts with the Coalition’s six women out of 23 ministers at the time of the election. Initially, the Perrottet government had 26 ministers of whom only seven were women. It is no problem that Minns’ team lacks ministerial experience, with only two former ministers.

As Sir Humphrey noted in Yes Minister, all a minister has to do is move files from the in tray to the out tray and the public service will do whatever is necessary. James Moore, Kogarah

Ban overdue

A mobile phone ban for classrooms is long overdue (“Minns makes call on phone ban for term 4”, April 4). I wish there was such a ban when I was in high school back in pre-COVID times. The people in my grade only ever connected based on what internet celebrity KSI said online or who commented on whose post. My lunchtime memories are mainly full of people playing on their phones, doomscrolling or watching YouTube videos. Naosheyrvaan Nasir, Quakers Hill

The air over there

It is encouraging to see the large firms’ commitment to even stronger CO2 emissions reductions (“Big polluters among group calling for ambitious goal”, April 4). However, the elephant in the room must surely be the millions of tonnes of Australian LNG and thermal coal exports whose millions of tonnes of emissions will be released overseas. As the world’s largest gas exporter and the second-largest coal exporter, Australia should accept responsibility for reducing these emissions, rather than conveniently ignoring our fossil fuel exports as “someone else’s problem”. Rob Firth, Red Hill (ACT)

Mine err

I hope readers can see the irony in the news about the accelerating number of endangered birds in NSW (“Pink cockatoo adds to spike on threatened species list”, April 4) and then reading that the Bowdens Silver mine in Lue has been approved by a government planning commission (“Mine approved despite residents’ fears”, April 4). With the agreement of the Department of Planning and Environment, that mine will clear 380 hectares of rare habitat of the critically endangered regent honeyeater. The approving commissioners were swayed, it seems, by the miner’s line that silver is a rare metal urgently needed for new low-carbon technology of the future. Silver is plentiful across the Earth. It’s just that it’s a precious metal and will make this miner a motser. The mine will come at the cost of land clearing the size of several airports as well as polluting the local air and waterways. The commissioners dismissed the risk to critically endangered species, not even mentioning the regent honeyeater in their reasons, and uncritically accepted the miner’s argument that those species can live somewhere else or recolonise areas the miner will pay to rehabilitate sometime later. The only hope now is that state and federal environment ministers, Penny Sharpe and Tanya Plibersek, will intervene by daring to give meaning to their words, “extinction crisis” and stop this mine. Barry Walsh, Blacktown

The pink cockatoo

The pink cockatooCredit:

Avoid naysayers

Opposition Indigenous Affairs spokesman Julien Leeser advises the PM to abandon the Voice referendum (“Liberals seek free party vote on Voice”, April 4). At the National Press Club he asked: “Why would you want to risk the social and racial harmony of the country with a reconciliation process by putting a referendum when it is not guaranteed (to pass)?” It is those who prosecute the No vote who risk Australia’s social and racial harmony. The Voice is not racist. It is intended to redress the nascent colonial conviction that “black fellas should scarcely be seen and never heard” that the naysayers want to continue to entrench in society. Most Australians will see through the gaslighting and support the referendum. Meg Pickup, Ballina

TikTok, time’s up

It was good timing if nothing else for the PM to ban TikTok from all government-issued devices from today instead of before the Aston byelection (“Federal government bans social media app TikTok from public servants’ work devices, citing security concerns”,, April 4). Christopher Smith, Braddon (ACT)

The sheer fact that is necessary to tell some people that the use of TikTok on government-owned phones is just “not on” speaks volumes about the state of the nation and who are at the helm. The lack of judiciousness and common sense is frightening indeed. It is akin to having to tell a new mother that she needs to feed her baby for it to survive. Bernadette Scadden, Earlwood

Par for the concourse

Like all recent projects around Central, the new underground concourse does nothing to shorten the trudge from platforms to Broadway (“Concourse opens at Central”, April 4). The station badly needs direct access to the south-west from all platforms. Thousands of people traipse twice daily through the Devonshire Street tunnel when shorter paths would seem feasible. If you’re on the Bankstown line, you’ll have to walk further once the new metro opens. Jim Donovan, Lindfield

Put on a show

Donald Trump has taken the example of the Roman emperors. If things are going downhill a bit put on a circus (“Trump to face fans after being booked”, April 4). Ken Pares, Forster

I hope that before Donald Trump arrives for his arraignment, he applies the face bronzer well down his neck, so that when he juts his chin upwards in a gesture of defiance, there is no sudden reversal to sallow white skin. Not a good look. Joan Brown, Orange

Safe as houses

I commend your correspondent’s views on “taxing the bejesus” to come up with ground-level solutions for appropriate housing (Letters, April 4).

A partial solution to the housing shortage is to tax the bejesus at state and federal levels out of housing used for short-term letting. Geoffrey Williamson, Woollahra

Giant mourned

A truly great Australian has left the land of the living but not his country (“‘Giant of the nation’: Indigenous leader Yunupingu dies”, April 4). Yunupingu, his constant work for his people and his achievements will be remembered. I cannot believe any Australian would deny him and his people recognition in our Constitution. Only the most selfish would deny the First Australians an opportunity to speak to the government of the day on matters that directly influence their lives. To crush his, and his people’s, hopes and dreams in the name of political point-scoring is forever a disgrace on those who would try. If not now, when? Ted Hemmens, Cromer

As a nation, we have struggled to close the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. We now add to that chasm with the passing of Yunupingu. Let’s hope we don’t pass on the opportunity to honour his patience, persistence and belief that the promise of inclusion will be realised with a resounding yes to the Voice later this year, a fitting legacy for a great man. Janet Argall, Dulwich Hill

Yunupingu was, and is, a Voice to the nation. Margaret Little, Willoughby North

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on
Smashed in cities, Liberals plot comeback with housing policy overhaul
From pault07: ″⁣If they’re not going to discuss winding back immigration they shouldn’t bother. This is an opportunity to show sensible product differentiation from the ALP, albeit with the risk of annoying a few donors. There you have it: they’ll squib it for sure.″⁣

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Justin Scaccy

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