Sussan Ley, Minister for Health

Just back at work after a short holiday break since being appointed Health Minister, Sussan Ley (“Lee”) today announced the scrapping of plans to reduce by $20.00 the rebate for short (less than 10 mins) GP visits.

The decision followed widespread criticism from GPs and representative bodies such as the AMA, and predictably drew accusations of a “backflip” from the government’s political opponents.

The proposed change to the Medicare rebate system, which was due to take effect on Monday 19 January, was the Abbott government’s revision to the much criticised $7.00 co-payment, which met with intense opposition and was regarded as unlikely to be endorsed by the Senate.

child vaccination


US anti-vaccination campaigner Sherri Tenpenny has announced the cancellation of her Australian speaking tour, citing 'bomb threats' to those venues that had agreed to continue with bookings made before widespread opposition erupted about the intention of the tour. Refunds will be made to those who purchased tickets

An online petition has been launched to encourage immigration authorities to refuse entry to US anti-vaccination crusader, Sherri Tenpenny. 

Dr Tenpenny is an osteopath who believes vaccines cause autism, asthma, ADHD and auto-immune disorder. She has planned a multi-city lecture series in March aimed at the parents of young children. The tour is supported by anti-vaccination lobbyists gathered around the now-discredited Vaccination Awareness Network that began in the Northern Rivers more than a decade ago.

Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and former Health Minister, Peter Dutton, announcing changes to Medicare

The Prime Minister and outgoing Federal Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, announced their vision for "A Strong and Sustainable Medicare" on 9 December 2014. The new package is designed to improve the quality of care for patients while significantly reducing government funding for GP services. 

By increasing the minimum length of a standard consultation from 6 to 10 minutes the program will save Medicare an estimated $400 million per year. The rebate will also be reduced by $5 for adults. However, the government has listened to the views of the community and concession card holders will be exempt. GPs will be able to charge a $5 co-payment to those who do not have a concession card, in compensation for the reduced rebate. Further savings will be achieved by freezing medical rebates for 4 years. 

Northern Rivers residents John and Helen Niven with calendars of Nepal that they produce to support their volunteer dental work in the Himalayan country.

Retired dentist John Niven and his ‘practice manager’ wife Helen, a former staff member of then-North Coast Area Health Service are back in action, producing a new calendar about the fabled yet desperately poor nation of Nepal and preparing to take another trip there.

Unlike most foreign visitors, the Nivens will not be joy-walking in the Himalayan mountains, let alone tackling its snow-capped peaks. Nor is it their aim to savour the fascinating mix of Buddhist, Hindu and Tibetan cultures, although their cameras will be kept at the ready.

Instead they will return with suitcases stuffed with dental supplies on a self-appointed mission to bring oral health care to rural dwellers seldom able to access treatment.

Australian Government’s new Issues Paper examines the roles and responsibilities of federal and state governments in the provision of Australian healthcare.

A newly-released federal government ‘Issues Paper’ on the provision of healthcare in Australia concludes that, “Currently, our health care arrangements do not work well for Australians with complex and chronic conditions, such as diabetes, cancer and mental illness,” attributing this to the lack of “a single overarching ‘health system’ in Australia to provide this care.”