Mildura Weekly : Friday May 30 2014 Vol 8 No 30
www.milduraweekly.com.au 4 Mildura Weekly – 30/05/14 MEMBER for Mallee Andrew Broad reiterated his opposition to the Federal Government’s planned increase to the pen- sion age this week, but also moved to allay residents’ con- cerns about how other changes to the Aged Pension system would be rolled out. Mr Broad said he was aware there were “a few nerves” about the changes, particularly the increase in the pension age, something he remains op- posed to. “I have been public in my opposition against this policy, and maintain that I do not sup- port it,” he said. “I recognise the valu- able contribution that retir- ees in our communities offer in so many ways, particularly through voluntary work, and I don’t believe that if a person is not financially stable to retire at a time of their choosing, they should be made to work until they are 70.” While objecting to the in- crease, Mr Broad said it would be gradual and wouldn’t hap- pen until 2035. He said changes to the broader Aged Pension system had been made to ensure it was sustainable and able to meet future demand, and that many changes, like the pension age increase, would be gradual and not come into effect for some time. Mr Broad said aged pen- sioners would continue to re- ceive the Energy Supplement, which was formerly known as the Clean Energy Supplement, with the rate of payment as of June 30 this year fixed for fu- ture payments. He said he was also aware of concerns surrounding the $7 GP co-payment, but highlight- ed the fact the government had capped the payments at $70 a year, given the financial stress it may put on some pensioners. Other changes include in- dexing the rate of the Aged Pension according to the Con- sumer Price Index from July 1, 2017, which Mr Broad said would make indexation ar- rangements consistent across social security payments. Income test and assets test- free areas will also be fixed for three years from July 1, 2017, while from September 20, 2017, deeming thresholds for financial investments will be reset. The upper deeming rate will apply above these reduced thresholds. Mr Broad said the govern- ment would not include an individual’s principal home in the assets test. He said he understood the budget had created “a lot of uncertainty” in the community, some of which he blamed on “a lot of misinformation currently in the media”, urging pension- ers who have concerns to seek clarification from Centrelink. Broad concerned about Federal Budget impact MILDURA Rural City Council Deputy Mayor, John Arnold, was last week forced to use his casting vote to decide Council’s stance on how the Mildura Base Hospital is managed. It followed a mo- tion put forward by Cr Ali Cupper that: ‘Council, in light of confusion over the meaning of its pre- vious resolution of February 2013 on this matter, seeks to clarify its position in relation to Mildura Base Hos- pital and accordingly: – acknowledge the State Government buy-back of the MBH building in July 2013 – support the return of the MBH to public management as soon as possible – undertake to actively support the community to lobby for this outcome.’ After a lengthy debate, which Mil- dura Mayor Glenn Milne did not par- ticipate in after declaring a conflict of interest, Councillors were divided on the issue at four votes all. During the debate it was argued that Council needed to declare its stance on the issue and play an advoca- cy role on behalf of the community, as it had on previous issues including the fight against the toxic waste dump, de- spite it being a State issue rather than in the realms of Council’s responsibility. Councillors opposed to the mo- tion, including Crs Max Thorburn, PICTURED, and Sharyon Peart, argued that given the current management contract between Ramsay Healthcare and the Victorian Government would be in place until at least 2018, it was not the appropriate time for Council to become involved in the issue. Cr Thorburn suggested that if the issue was to be re- visited, it should be looked at closer to when the contract expired, adding that in his ex- perience the hospital was well managed. He also questioned whether the motion was po- litically motivated. The timing so close to November’s Victorian Gov- ernment election was another factor raised by those op- posed to the motion. Speaking to her motion, Cr Cupper argued that under the current, private- ly-managed, hospital, its financial per- formance took precedence over service delivery, adding that there was signifi- cant community support for a return to public management, evidenced by strong turn-outs to two public meet- ings during the past two years. Pro public hospital lobby group, Reclaim the Base, had a strong presence at the Council meeting and reacted an- grily to the defeated motion. Chair, Jo Clutterbuck, said council- lors who voted for the motion had rep- resented the views of the community, while those who voted against the mo- tion had “unknown” motives. Mrs Clutterbuck was also critical of the arguments used against the motion. “There were a number of factual errors and questionable sentiments raised during the councillors’ speeches against the motion,” she said. “It was stated that the Mildura Base Hospital was a ‘public private partner- ship’, which was similar to the Royal Women’s Hospital and the Royal Chil- dren’s Hospital. “If the councillor making these claims had researched their own state- ments, they would have been aware that while all three hospitals are classified as PPPs, Mildura Base Hospital is the only hospital in Victoria where the delivery of health services are outsourced to a private, for-profit company.” Mrs Clutterbuck also dismissed the argument that the issue should be dis- cussed closer to the end of the current contract. “In arguing this position, the councillors are conveniently ignoring the upcoming State election and the distinct possibility that, with strong advocacy on the issue, an incoming government may see fit to overturn the contract and reinstate a publicly man- aged hospital, just as the Federal Gov- ernment did with overturning the con- tracts for Medicare Locals,” she said. Before using his casting vote, Cr Ar- nold said he had listened to both sides of the debate and considered their ar- guments, but would vote against the motion. Despite the setback, Mrs Clutter- buck said her group would continue to pressure the Victorian Government to return the MBH to public manage- ment. Not the time for hospital talks: City Motel Accommodated Coach Tours PICK UP & RETURN TO YOUR HOME www.brendanstours.com.au Freecall 1800 981 187 / ARARAT CAIRNS & THE GULF COUNTRY 25 days 3rd July $9395 Highlights: Blackall, Longreach, Stockman’s Hall of Fame, Charters Towers, Magnetic Island, Paronella Park, Australian Sugar Museum, Green Island, Cairns, Barrier Reef, Daintree River Cruise, Kuranda Train and Sky Rail, Breakfast with the Birds, Port Douglas, Undara Lava Tubes, Gulflander Train Ride, Gulf of Carpentaria Sunset Cruise, Burketown, Mt Isa, Birdsville, Flinders Ranges, Burra, Renmark. 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Friday May 23 2014 Vol 8 No 29
Friday June 6 Vol 8 No 31