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Gillard promised the world and delivered a handful of nothing

Over at Cafe Whispers I have been running the argument that Labor’s problem is that they over promise and under deliver on just about all of their grand schemes, even when they are a good idea. Their plan to have doctors consult with distant patients over the internet always struck me as being a good idea for a country as big as ours with a dispersed population, even though I did question the need for very high speed broadband to do it. However I was somewhat bemused by the revelation that it has been very under utilised.

The $620 million scheme that links doctors and patients via video-link was the centrepiece of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s 2010 election campaign launch.

It was promised the scheme would give patients outside major cities access to a specialist, with a target of 495,000 consultations by July 2015.

However, doctors – who received $6000 taxpayer-funded incentives to equip their surgeries to provide services via videoconferencing – delivered an average of five services each in the first year.

Just 16,000 specialist services were provided in the initial 12 months of the program and GPs provided patient back-up at the other end for 9000 of these services.

Take-up was low even though specialists who take part in telehealth receive a 50 per cent loading on their usual Medicare rebate and GPs receive a 35 per cent bonus.

 

And it came despite the government spending 43 per cent more than it had budgeted for on incentives for doctors to join the scheme.

A surge in demand from doctors blew the spending out from a budgeted spend of $12.3 million to $17.6 million in the year to June 2012.

Yet the government spent just one-tenth of the projected $30 million on Medicare rebates for patients under the telehealth program in the first year.

After such low initial usage, more than 13,000 services need to be provided every month to reach the government’s target of 495,000 consultations

Source

The idea has  merit, I have no trouble  accepting that, however this is clearly another example of Labor shooting themselves in the foot by raising expectations too high in the quest for a big splash in the media and to acquire political momentum and then failing miserably to get anywhere near that claim in delivery. Surely their advisers and experts could have seen that the uptake would be slow and that the financial incentives not related to actual service delivery would be prone to rorting by doctors?

Once again Gillard and Labor are left with the brown smelly stuff all over their faces and it did not have to be so at all. Bigger is not always better when delivering your pitch for office,  surely Labor will have learned from this and its many other debacles  that the public a very tired of being promised the world and being delivered a handful of nothing.

Cheers Comrades

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17 Comments

  1. deknarf says:

    Oh Iain! How can you say that? She’s given you lots of blogging opportunities! Be thankful for small mercies! ;-O

  2. Ray Dixon says:

    A bit early to write it off as a failure isn’t it, Iain? Anyway, I agree we never see the Liberals wasting money on such worthy causes that are designed to improve our lives – they just don’t spend anything on new projects & serviices, have no vision, no plans and don’t give a stuff about the people. But then they say “oh but look at all the money we saved”.

    No wonder Labor spends like a mad woman @ Xmas whenever it comes their turn in office. If they didn’t, we’d still be living in the Victorian era.

    Merry Xmas to the Scrooges from the Liberal party. (And you mate)

  3. Iain Hall says:

    Ray the idea has merit I don’t deny that or think that it is as yet a failure my point here is to decry the clear lack of political nous in the way that the idea was framed and enunciated to the Australian public,In fact all they really had to do to get the same sort of result was to allow doctors to bill Medicare for remote consultations, via skype, as just about everyone has access to that these days. Instead they made a very big song and dance about it being one of the virtues of the the NBN. Its just the Dumb politics that I’m criticising here, by overselling and under delivering again. Gillard has devalued the idea, and undermined Labor’s electoral prospects even further.

    Just imagine if Gillard had done as I’m suggesting in 2010 well the modest take up of this idea would be seen to be a damn good start and a good proof of the concept instead of yet another disappointment.
    Surely you can appreciate that argument?

    On your last point all I can say is that Labor leave such a financial mess every time that they are booted out that the Libs have to spend all of their efforts on clean up duty and that does not leave much time or money to do “new” things.

  4. Brian says:

    On your last point all I can say is that Labor leave such a financial mess every time that they are booted out that the Libs have to spend all of their efforts on clean up duty and that does not leave much time or money to do “new” things.

    What a ludicrous argument Iain. If it wasn’t for the microeconomic reforms of the Hawke-Keating era, we wouldn’t have the economic prosperity we do now. What were Howard and Costello’s long-term gifts to Australia’s economic future? Oh right, they maintained budget surpluses, introduced middle-class welfare and Workchoices. Wow!

    There’s a degree of hyperbole in Ray’s comment but he is essentially right. The conservative side of Australian politics is responsible for very few visionary long-term policies or reforms.

  5. Tel says:

    Keating was a bit exceptional for an ALP treasurer (someone who could count for starters). Frank Crean might have been OK, but in retrospect we will never know.

    The current mob are a fiscal disaster.

    What were Howard and Costello’s long-term gifts to Australia’s economic future?

    Well, low public debt for starters. Strange isn’t it that any Keynesian will tell you that paying off public debt during the good years is a great idea… but none of them ever do it.

    Getting back to the topic at hand. It makes sense to me that remote area clinics might benefit from good quality network links AND high quality diagnostic equipment like high-res cameras, on-the-spot blood tests, maybe some scanners, etc. because this allows the doctor on the spot to run the tests and a specialist elsewhere to think about diagnostics.

    However, running fiber to every household is useless because no doctor is going to make a diagnostic call on the basis of a crappy web-cam and a Skype call.

    Besides that, things like vital monitoring and similar systems don’t need high bandwidth, they benefit more from mobile bandwidth like 3G/4G etc.

  6. Iain Hall says:

    Brian

    What a ludicrous argument Iain. If it wasn’t for the microeconomic reforms of the Hawke-Keating era, we wouldn’t have the economic prosperity we do now. What were Howard and Costello’s long-term gifts to Australia’s economic future? Oh right, they maintained budget surpluses, introduced middle-class welfare and Workchoices. Wow!

    I’m Ok with acknowledging the Hawke Keeting reforms Brian but as Tell points out they are the exception rather than the rule and up here in Queensland we have the perfect example of a Labor leaving government in a huge mess that the Libs have to sort out.

  7. Treeman says:

    Keatings reforms were partnered by unparalleled arrogance. problem for Gillard is an equal level of arrogance with no tangible benefit to date from so called reforms!

  8. Iain Hall says:

    True enough comparison you offer there Keating will be respected as a worthwhile treasurer and PM but Gillard will only be remembered as a total failure.
    and welcome to my Sandpit Treeman 😀

  9. Ray Dixon says:

    I understand Keating’s ‘arrogance’ – he didn’t suffer fools and had no time for the idiots who opposed his reforms & vision. He wasn’t out to glorify himself or to feather his own nest – he just had a job to do and didn’t want to be hindered by dumbarses. Gillard’s arrogance though, is more based on her self-preservation. She has no vision, no plans and no ideas and just asserts herself whenever challenged on her credibility or integrity. Does a good job of that though.

  10. Iain Hall says:

    Ray

    Gillard’s arrogance though, is more based on her self-preservation. She has no vision, no plans and no ideas and just asserts herself whenever challenged on her credibility or integrity. Does a good job of that though

    I agree that she is cunning as a shit-house rat Ray and very good at trying to play the victim card but it does her no favours and loses her more support than it wins her and when it comes to Labor support they just can’t afford that.

  11. Ray Dixon says:

    To her credit too, she’s managed to keep Rudd at bay despite all the poor polling. You gotta admire a crafty politician, but I wonder how long it will take caucus to bite the bullet and realise that, for the sake of the party, she’s gotta go. Rudd may not win the next election (although he’d go close against Abbott) but it’s as sure as hell that Gillard will lead them to a wipeout.

  12. Iain Hall says:

    Oh even I can admire a cunning player in the Game of politics but it pains me to see Gillard make some really basic mistakes (like premature announcements);like the Timor solutions or brain fart ideas (the climate change people’s assembly)and her misogyny speech. Gets cheers from the Gillard true believers but just makes everyone else wince.

  13. Tel says:

    Keatings reforms were partnered by unparalleled arrogance.

    Yeah, Keating made a good Treasurer, but a poor Prime Minister. Thing is, Peter Costello also made a good Treasurer but no one wanted him as Prime Minister — the skills and personality required are completely different for those two jobs.

    Anyone thinking that the Gillard government has no vision is totally wrong. Gillard is the third Fabian Prime Minister (after Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke), you can read about their vision online if you search the Fabian speeches, etc. Huge numbers of laws have been rewritten in the past few years, we don’t even know the implications yet.

    Here are the basic 10 points they have been focussed on for a century or more:

    1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.

    2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

    3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.

    4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

    5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.

    6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.

    7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.

    8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

    9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.

    10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.

  14. Tel says:

    Rudd may not win the next election (although he’d go close against Abbott) but it’s as sure as hell that Gillard will lead them to a wipeout.

    Gillard should lead them to a wipeout. That is the right and correct process of Democracy. This business of switching leaders at the last minute so the voters have no idea what they are getting is just a cheap confidence trick. Hopefully the voters learn to stop falling for it.

  15. Iain Hall says:

    the old leader switcheroo did them no favours in NSW even that KK is a good sort 😉

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