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Is Labor Finished?


Sir Roger Migently is not angry. He is over it.

According to Friday’s ABC 7.30 Report

The Government is pushing ahead with its demand that dozens of dentists repay $20 million claimed under Medicare for treating people with chronic diseases.

Here’s how it is: Few people can afford dental service, not even preventive.

Just to open your mouth for a dentist will set you back over $70. To have any work done will cost you a lot more.

People who have low-paying jobs or none at all, especially if they have, for example, parental responsibilities, simply can’t afford to go to a private dentist.

They can go to the Dental Hospital (if they happen to live in a capital city) and wait for two or three years in some cases to complete a series of consultations.

Meanwhile, people with missing teeth can lose jobs, miss promotions or, if unemployed, find it extremely difficult to find employment. This is especially serious for people whose work involves standing up in front of people, or managing them: trainers, coaches, teachers, actors, etc. etc. etc.

What can they do? Until some time ago if you had rotting or broken teeth you could go to your GP and make a case that your dental condition was life-threatening – which it can be because, for example, of gum disease which can be linked to heart disease. Your GP could create a Patient Management Plan which included dental work.

Dentist could, with this Plan, provide their services under Medicare. The problem was that they could claim only one item at a time. Therefore some dentists, if they had to do two extractions in a sitting, chose to space them over more than one date. They weren’t claiming or being paid for work they were not doing.

And even then, if a prosthesis was needed – false teeth – only the prosthetist’s services were covered. The false teeth themselves could cost $2000, which is a lot for an unemployed person.

Older (especially pre-fluoride), less-well-paid Australians have dreadful dentition. This scheme was the only possible way to stay in the employment game, not to mention to cling onto some sort of quality of life, self-esteem and respect.

It was, frankly a crappy scheme put together by the coalition years ago. It was, in conscience, the least they could do. And they did the very least they could.

Now the Labor Party thinks even that was too much and wants to junk it.

And on top of that they are punishing dentists with fines for making it possible for that scheme to work.

The most likely reason Health Minister Plibersek has taken this action is as part of a larger strategy to claw back outgoings so that Treasurer Swan can announce his surplus in 2012. This surplus is supposed to prove his economic management credentials (and to poke his tongue out at Fatty Joe Hockey who said Labor would “never deliver a surplus”). But that Labor might win the next election, surplus or not, is a vain hope.

For Sir Roger, this action is the last straw.

With this there is no policy area remaining in which Labor can claim moral or political superiority over the coalition.

On every important issue Labor is in a panicked race to the ethics-free bottom to appease narrow-minded, ignorant, cashed-up bogans who are already, not rusted-on, but welded-on to the coalition.

Gillard today announces a tax-benefit bribe to low-income families with teenage children.

Labor has been in power for three and a half years. They could have done this years ago. Why didn’t they?

They’re in panic.

Do you think immediately, as I did, of Gillard and Abbott (not to mention almost their entire front benches) when you read this from the final chapter of Kevin Dutton’s Flipnosis?

“If experience teaches us anything, it’s this: behind the façade of assiduous, fumbling accomplishment there shimmers a realm of despicably effortless incompetence. An imperishable array of faux-pas, cock-ups and howlers that clunks into mortal existence at the whim of the cognitively challenged.”

So who is left to vote for? Who is left with the moral authority to manage a country for the welfare of its people? Not the Coalition ptui! ptui! who lost their moral compass years ago – so who is left who might keep them both honest?




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