WARNING: LNP-supplied reply-paid envelopes for postal vote applications don’t go to the Electoral Commission

Fri 9 Jan 2015
Stop Press!
Ensure you see the important note at bottom.

Did all my Queensland friends receive their personal letter from their local LNP member or candidate yesterday? I did. The letter contained seven uses of the word “strong”, three “stronger”s but no “care”, “compassion”, “help” or “community”. That’s the LNP for you.

But wait! There’s more!

The envelope also contained a Postal Vote Application form. How thoughtful! There was even a reply-paid envelope, saving me 70c postage. How kind!

This would be really useful if, on election day (Sat Jan 31, 2015), I were to be interstate, overseas, travelling, in a remote area (like my favourite place on the planet, Fraser Island) or rostered on to work all day. Simply fill in the application form, stuff it in the supplied envelope, drop it in the postbox and wait for my postal vote by return mail.

Hang on a minute…

Where did that reply-paid envelope go to? It certainly didn’t go to the ECQ’s correct address…

Electoral Commission Queensland
GPO Box 1393
Brisbane QLD 4001

LNP-supplied reply-paid envelopes for postal vote applications don't go to the Electoral Commission (click to enlarge)
LNP-supplied reply-paid envelopes for postal vote applications don’t go to the Electoral Commission

No, no, no! It went to some post office box at Spring Hill. Spring Hill just happens to be the location of LNP headquarters. OMG, I’ve just given a *political party* all of my information required to obtain a postal vote. I’ve given them my full name, my address, my date of birth, contact phone number, even my SIGNATURE!!!

Security Question

This year, there’s a special, fraud-preventing, addition to the form – a security question. I presume I will have to answer this question again when I submit my postal vote and scrutineers will check that the answer with my ballot paper matches the answer on this application form.

OMG AGAIN! I’ve just told a *political party* the name of my first pet. They can now answer my security question for me. Does anybody else feel nervous about this?

Security geeks will recognise this as a classic “man in the middle” attack.

Privacy? Pffft!

No doubt the LNP are collecting this information for follow-up. How secure is their database? Do I have to go back in time and change the name of my first pet for security reasons? Can I see a copy of the information the LNP holds about me? Actually, no. Political parties are specifically exempted from the provisions of the Privacy Act. So, tough!

Is the LNP doing something illegal?

Apparently, not. And the other parties might be doing it too. However, because this form was posted direct to me personally, completely unsolicited, containing no LNP logo and no indication that the return address was NOT the Electoral Commission, I would call it devious, deceptive, dishonest and unethical.

For Best Results

Wherever possible, always download your postal vote application form from the Electoral Commission Queensland website (ecq.qld.gov.au) You could also apply online. Save 70c postage.

While you are there, check your enrolment details are up to date. If you have changed address recently, a spot-check could have removed you from the roll. This can happen, even if you just move across the street or to another apartment in the same building.

P. S.

Some have suggested creative uses for what should be returned in the LNP’s reply-paid envelope, but I won’t repeat them here.

P. P. S.

Guess what arrived in today’s mail? Yep, Labor’s Postal Vote Application form. However, their reply-paid envelope is clearly labelled “Australian Labor Party Queensland Branch“. The address is West End.

Clearly, Labor is being more ethical about this. Even more clearly, the law that allows this mail redirection needs changing.

Medicare Dismantling

Tue 23 Dec 2014

UPDATE: Wed 14 Jan 2015

Patient Billing Notices (click to enlarge)
Update: 14 Jan 2015. These are now being handed out by our local GPs. I expect our local LNP MP will soon be seeing many of them.

Tue 23 Dec 2014

It’s not just Medicare that is being dismantled; the very existence of General Practice is also at risk.  It’s not just asking patients to pay $5; it’s THE CHAOS on the other side of the reception desk.

There is no way a GP can bulk bill, and accept the Medicare rebate for, a consultation up to 10 minutes after January 19.  To do so would mean they are operating below cost price.

10 min GP Consultation Rebate Cut
GPs cannot bulk bill after Jan 19 and cover costs

It’s bad enough that the Rebate paid to GPs was frozen for another 4 years at the 2014 budget.  There is certainly no corresponding freeze on practice costs; receptionist and nurse wages, surgical dressings, rent, electricity, phone calls, IT services, laundry, etc.  These all increase relentlessly.

And sure, the reduction is not as severe for longer consultations.  But with costs increasing, any rebate reduction is not sustainable.

And before anyone says, “Yeah, but doctors make a lot of money”, let me tell you: GPs who own their own practice DO NOT.  You might be thinking of employee doctors who are contracted and paid a fixed fee per consultation, hospital doctors on a salary, or specialists.

URGENT Action Now

As far as anyone in General Practice knows, this horror will be visited upon our nation’s primary care system on January 19.  It will be introduced “by regulation”.  This means it will not go before the Senate.  There are no Senators to be lobbied, this time.

It can only be stopped by a massive flood of complaints to sitting LNP members.

Phone, email, write to your local member of parliament.  Point out how their attempt to crush Medicare will also kill General Practice.

Stop Press! 9 Jan 2015
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has organised a petition to the new Health Minister, Hon. Sussan Ley. Quit targeting general practice and the health of all Australians
14 Jan 2015
Australian Unions also have a petition to be presented to the Senate on the next sitting day. DEFEND MEDICARE: Official Senate Petition Please sign. Ask your friends to do so too.

Email to our Local Member

My wife, Maureen, is a hard-working family medical practitioner with 35 years experience.  The last 33 years have been in our local area.  She is now treating the grandchildren of the people who were her first patients.  She does home visits and continues treating patients in nursing homes.  Proper family care.

She is extremely busy and rarely takes time out to address politics, but now it is serious.

This is the email she sent tonight to our local LNP member for Forde, Bert Van Manen.

From: Maureen Fitzsimon
Date: 23 December 2014 20:56:52 AEST
To: Bert van Manen <bert.vanmanen.mp@aph.gov.au>
Subject: Medicare dismantling

Dear Bert,

Are you aware that your government has slashed the Medicare Rebate for consultations up to 10 minutes with GPs from $36.50 (frozen for the last 3 years), to $11.95, for the patients of all GPs who have undertaken 3 extra years of study, and thousands of dollars in course fees to gain post graduate qualifications?

Meanwhile, a nurse practitioner, who studies for 1/3 of this time, attracts a $16.95 rebate, and a GP who has not bothered to gain these qualifications, attracts a rebate of $21 for the same time spent.

I’m furious, and the patients are going to be contacting you in droves when this slug hits them on 19th January.

Government expenditure on General Practice has risen just $60 per person per year, over a period of 10 years. If the government wants to save Medicare dollars, I have a myriad of suggestions.

For instance, other specialists training for around the same time as postgraduate GPs are often seeing patients for only a couple of minutes, and attracting Medicare rebates of $120 and more.

Most specialists also demand a new referral every year, (usually unpaid work for us), so that they can charge patients as a “new patient”, when clearly they are not. If we refuse, and insist on a 5 year referral, we are seen as unreasonable, instead of them being fraudulent.

Many specialists hang on to patients and see them for minor complaints, easily managed cheaply by GPs.

Child psychiatrists demand a referral for the mother, father, and child, and most of them charge for each one. When GPs see a child, we do not charge Medicare for seeing the parents as well as the child.

Many of the areas in which GPs hold skills are not rewarded at all. For instance, I prevent numerous referrals to rheumatologists, costing Medicare considerably, by performing joint injections. The Medicare rebate was reduced to zero a few years ago for this GP service. I continue to do this procedure, as I am skilled in this, and patients cannot afford $450 for a visit to a rheumatologist.

Ditto diabetes. I have done several advanced courses in diabetes management, as have my nurses. Endocrinologists in Brisbane charge $450 for a consultation. With my colleagues, we save the Federal and State Governments countless thousands of dollars by managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, for a pittance.

Similarly, I have postgraduate qualifications in Psychiatry, and rarely refer, saving more dollars to the patient and taxpayer.

I could go on and on. Demolishing general practice will result in massive blow outs in the health budget. No young doctor is going to study for 12 years, and incur a massive HECS debt, to be valued at less than a nurse, trained for a third of the time.

Australia spends 9 per cent of GDP on Health (and not much of this is on general practice). The USA, which does not have a universal health scheme, spends over 17 per cent of GDP on health. The USA is moving towards a family doctor model of practice, while your government is kicking GPs into oblivion.

Your Government talks about a “price signal”. Then, after announcing this latest version of health policy “on the run”, Mr Dutton announced that GPs would now be able “to bulk bill 8 million Australians”. He was referring to freezing the rebate for card holder rebates for another 3 years. Where is the “price signal” in that? I know this chap was a public servant formerly (and still is!). As such, he does not seem to have a clue about small business. How does he think GPs are going to do this promised non price-signalling bulkbilling with rebates frozen for 6.5 years? Wages, insurances, rents, accreditation, drugs and dressing etc., are rising all the time.

I could go on and on. I have 35 years’ experience of this topic. The politicians making these policies, which are disastrous, short-sighted, and very, costly - not cost saving- , have not had time to even look at these issues for more than hours. Ignorance reigns!

Currently, I do a MINIMUM of 2-3 hours of unpaid work every day. That’s enough.

So, in summary, the career politicians, inexperienced in the real world, who make up the leaders in your government, are going to cost this country dearly.

Any questions and complaints will be referred to you, as their local member, and the new health minister, Sussan Ley. GPs are not prepared to cop the flack from these cutbacks. If your government wants to cut rebates by up to 67% - as detailed above- for common GP consultations, you will need to defend it.

Dr Maureen Fitzsimon

Sadly, the only response was from Bert’s “Out of Office” message advising that his office would be unattended until January 5.  This goes “LIVE” 14 days later!

Abbott LNP Government Now Satirizes Itself

Sun 21 Dec 2014

This Federal government gets more ridiculous every day.  It is now operating beyond the range where it can be satirized by cartoonists and stand-up comedians.  It is satirizing itself.

From a tweet by Tasmanian cartoonist, Jon Kudelka

LNP Profits from Ebola?

Sat 8 Nov 2014

A Facebook update from my wife, Maureen Fitzsimon, a GP. Reproduced here because it deserves a wider audience…

“Now I’m worried. The very clinically inexperienced, (as I have seen about 50 times the number of patients he has), Michael Wooldridge, is on the board of Aspen - the group contracted, without any tendering, to combat Ebola in West Africa.

“He was the (Howard government) Liberal Minister who drastically cut medical school intakes to Australians. We consequently had a drastic doctor shortage, necessitating importing countless thousands of overseas doctors.

“He was on the board of Prime Trust retirement fund. We lost a good part of our superannuation when $550 million was lost by investors, due to the board’s mismanagement. What a great choice to fight Ebola!”

It turns out Michael Wooldridge is also on the board of the Waubra Foundation, the mob of crackpots who assert that wind farms cause illness. Medical expertise indeed.

Electoral records reveal that Aspen donated $11,000 to the Queensland LNP last year.

Call me a cynic, but it appears to me that Australia’s response to the Ebola crisis was held up until, in true LNP style, a way could be found for someone’s mate to make a buck out of this misery.

Tracking Abbott’s Wreckage

Sun 26 Oct 2014

I have a new Page on my blog, “Tracking Abbott’s Wreckage“. It lists the 289 ways (so far) #OneTermTony is wrecking our society, our environment, our kids’ future.

It is a copy of Sally McManus’ “Tracking Abbott’s Wreckage” page, and is reproduced on my blog, with Sally’s permission, because her page has come under severe DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. Now who would do such a thing? More importantly, who would pay to have such a thing done?

Shailer Park Medical Centre has moved

Sat 1 Feb 2014

Yes, Shailer Park Medical Centre has moved.

After 25 years of working in her current building at 70 Bryants Road, and 30 years of working in Shailer Park, Dr Maureen Fitzsimon’s surgery has moved to Riverlakes Shopping Centre, near the entrance to Logandale Estate.

The new address is:
  Shop 6
  Riverlakes Shopping Village,
  Corner of Logandale Boulevard and Beenleigh-Redland Bay Rd
  Cornubia  QLD  4130

Tel: 07 3287 6699
Web: shailermedical.com.au

All doctors have resumed normal services:
  Dr Maureen Fitzsimon
  Dr Neil Fletcher
  Dr Peter Mills

  Dr Craig Glasby
  Dr Maha Hanna
  Dr Laila Mian
  Dr Ken Wilkie
  Dr Shirreen Lee
  Dr Robyn Kliese

Unfortunately, 16 months ago, Shailer Park Medical Centre’s lease was cancelled on a technicality.  Despite all of their efforts, in over 16 months, they could not negotiate an affordable lease in the existing premises.  After an extensive search, an excellent alternative has been located.  All doctors and staff have moved to Riverlakes and will provide the same professional service since first opening in 1983.

Shailer Medical staff are very much looking forward to working alongside the other tenants at Riverlakes Shopping Village, who have welcomed the Shailer Medical team warmly.

View Larger Map

Phone Senator Bernardi

Mon 6 Jan 2014

South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi (he of “gay marriage leads to bestiality” fame) seems to believe that Australian women are unable to make decisions regarding their bodies.  Maybe some ladies would like his contact details so they can refer their decisions to him?

Leave a comment below to let us all know what decisions you have referred to Senator Bernardi by phone.

Phone Senator Cory Bernardi at his Electorate office on 1300 880 569 or at his Canberra Parliamentary office on 02 6277 3278.
I’m going out for coffee. What would you like?
Hang on. I have to ask Senator Cory Bernardi.
Who’s that?
SA Senator who believes Australian women can’t make their own decisions. So…
whenever I have to decide something, I call his Electorate office on “1300 880 569″.
If he’s not there, I try his Canberra Parliamentary office on “02 6277 3278″.
Hello Cory. What coffee do I prefer?
Straight White.

Thanks to a real cartoonist, Stephanie McMillan, for the inspiration.

I love a sandbagged country

Sun 29 Sep 2013

I love a sandbagged country,
A land of speaking blame,
Of human swap arrangements,
Of doubt and downsized brains.
I love her event horizons,
I love her deaths at sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
For no-one else but me !

- Reproduced with permission from Jennifer Mills and with apologies, of course, to Dorothea Mackellar.

I saw this gem flash by, two lines at a time, in @millsjenjen’s Twitter stream nearly a week ago.  Sadly, with about 50 asylum-seeker deaths at sea in recent days, it is now more poignant than ever.

I love a sandbagged country - Tweet by @millsjenjen

Questions from our Grandchildren

Sat 31 Aug 2013

What did you do
  when the seas were rising; bees dying?

Where did you protest
  with clean water lacking, earth’s fracking?

Why did you not stop
  coal port dredging; coral bleaching?

Who did you vote for
  as summers got longer; storms stronger?

Who did you vote for,   Grandma?  GrandPa?

Voted Greens I voted early; voted Greens

[1] for Sally Spain, Greens candidate for Forde;
[1] for Adam Stone, Greens lead Senate candidate.

I used senate.io to help me plan my 82 Senate numbers before I went to the polling booth.

There are other useful tools at www.belowtheline.org.au and clueyvoter.com.

The End of Racism as a Political Weapon

Sat 10 Nov 2012

You can see it in their faces.  Look at the crowd at President Obama’s Chicago victory speech; there are black faces, white faces, yellow faces, brown faces and every shade in between; with no two dressed alike.

Obama Acceptance Speech Crowd
President Obama’s Acceptance Speech Crowd, Nov 6, 2012  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Source: Gawker

Now jump to Boston and look at the crowd for Governor Romney’s concession speech; universally white-skinned and sober-suited.

Romney Concession Speech Crowd
Romney Concession Speech Crowd  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Source: Baltimore Sun (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

I don’t often agree with Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly, but he did let this slip in his election night TV coverage: “Obama wins because it’s not a traditional America any more. The white establishment is in the minority.

I think that the US Republican Party has passed through a one-way trap-door and now cannot go back.  Either they realize that they can never again go to the electorate with an appeal to only white, Christian males, or they remain out of office forever.

Racism, sexism, religious fundamentalism; they are not vote-winners any more.

Change in Australia

The same process is also at work in Australia and the rest of the world.  It’s slower and we have a way to go but we *will* get there.  The target audience for racist slogans like “Stop the Boats” is getting older and will die out.  And don’t fool yourself by saying “Stop the Boats” is not racist.  There’s no way those boats would be turned back if they contained white-skinned South Africans, Kiwis or Poms.

I suspect the Liberal-National coalition might have to take a hiding at the ballot box before they realise racism is no longer a vote-winning tactic.  Building bridges between races and religions (including NO religion) might be a better way to go.