JollyPostie The Saturday Paper Medicare tops national cabinet, sharp divide at Pell funeral, ‘Someone’ told Porter robo-debt was legal

Text-Only Mode Of The Email Medicare tops national cabinet, sharp divide at Pell funeral, ‘Someone’ told Porter robo-debt was legal

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3 February, 2023

Max Opray

is Schwartz Media's emails editor.


Medicare tops national cabinet talks

The first national cabinet meeting of the year will be held in Canberra today, with premiers and chief ministers to lobby Prime Minister Anthony Albanese over proposed health sector and gun law reforms.

What we know:

The nation’s leaders

will thrash out solutions to widespread problems in the health system, including GP shortages, rising out-of-pocket fees, lengthy waiting lists and overburdened public hospitals (



The states and territories

will also be presented with a long-awaited report from a task force aimed at improving Medicare, which Health Minister Mark Butler warns is in “the worst shape it's been in its 40-year history” (

The Saturday Paper


NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet

will petition for changes that would allow pharmacies to offer aspects of primary care currently restricted to doctors, but the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners warned the move would endanger patients and compromise care (



Premiers and chief ministers

will push to continue the 50:50 state/federal funding hospital deal that was temporarily set in place during the height of the pandemic;

There will also

be discussions about expanding My Health Record, a much-maligned online electronic summary of health information for Australians (

The Guardian


Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

will propose a national firearms register, in the wake of the fatal shooting ambush of two police officers in her state in December (

The Australian


The plan

would see the rollout of an efficient, workable and fast national database of licensed gun owners;

Leaders will

also be updated on Closing the Gap measures, energy priorities, local government and housing (

Canberra Times




Sharp divide at Pell funeral

Hundreds of mourners gathered at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral for the funeral of Cardinal George Pell on Thursday, while hundreds more marched in protest outside.

What we know:

Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher

led the pontifical mass and paid tribute to the late cardinal whom he called “our beloved former archbishop” (



Fisher also

referred to the child sexual abuse charges laid against Cardinal Pell by Victoria Police as a “media, police and political campaign”;

“Even after

he was unanimously exonerated by the High Court of Australia, some continued to demonise him,” Fisher told the service;

The child abuse royal commission

nevertheless found that Pell turned a blind eye to paedophile priests and was aware they were abusing children;

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton

attended the funeral, along with former prime ministers Tony Abbott and John Howard (

The Politics


Governor-General David Hurley,

NSW Governor Margaret Beazley, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns all chose not to attend;

Campaign group Community Action for Rainbow Rights

organised a march in protest outside St Mary’s, in condemnation of Pell’s opposition to same-sex marriage and women’s rights, and his failure to protect children from widespread sexual abuse (

The Guardian


There were

tense stand-offs between protesters and Pell supporters, with a group of men standing between the marchers and the church, holding religious books, with fists and holy beads raised.



‘Someone’ told Porter robo-debt was legal

Christian Porter has insisted someone in one of the two government departments responsible for the robo-debt scheme assured him it was legal, but he can’t recall who.

The former Social Services minister

and attorney-general told the inquiry he could not be sure who provided the legal assurance, but he was sure he had asked about it (

The Guardian


“I can’t recall

who it was that affirmed that assurance, but someone did, and I recall that it was a departmental person,” Porter said.

Porter also

admitted he gave “inaccurate” and “untrue” information to the media while defending the scheme in late 2016 and early 2017, which he blamed on the talking points he was provided for media interviews (



Porter told

the commission he takes responsibility for the failed scheme, saying he wished he had taken “the next step of inquiry”.

Earlier in the day,

former minister Alan Tudge continued his testimony, where he was grilled on a document that showed Tudge’s chief of staff wrote to the Department of Human Services in January 2017 asking how much money the budget could save by having debt notices calculated manually, rather than through automated systems (

Michael West Media



Labor seats cut from bushfire aid

An audit of a $100m bushfire recovery program found the office of former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro altered the guidelines, resulting in Labor electorates missing out on emergency funding.

The office

of the then NSW Nationals leader ignored guidelines and devised its own rules to fast-track money to areas hit by the 2019-20 bushfires — which meant 96% of projects funded were in Coalition-held seats (



The audit office’s report

found the changes meant Labor-held bushfire-hit areas such as the Blue Mountains missed out on funding.

The report

also questioned why the Department of Regional NSW provided details to Barilaro’s office of which electorates the projects were in.

“It is not clear

why the department provided this advice given that electorates were not intended to be relevant to the assessment process,” the report said.



Richest writing prize goes to novella

Melbourne author Jessica Au has secured Australia’s richest literary prize for her novella Cold Enough for Snow.

The book,

which explores a mother and daughter’s journey through Japan, won the $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature on Thursday night (

The New Daily


The judges

described the prose in Cold Enough for Snow as “like a river, pulling the reader along as the story pools and eddies, flowing steady and deep”.

Au was

also awarded the Prize for Fiction, while seven other works were recognised at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, including five debuts.

Eda Gunaydin

took out the Prize for Non-Fiction with her essay collection, Root & Branch: Essays on inheritance, while Lystra Rose won the Indigenous Writing Prize for her debut fantasy novel, The Upwelling.

Thought the climate wars were over? A sequel’s out next week

Australia is supposed to be reducing its emissions at a rapid pace and last year the Albanese government put a new target into law. Now, we will finally get to see exactly how Labor plans to force our biggest polluters to reduce their emissions. But will the proposal win the support it needs? And how will it shape the political year to come?



Council confirms that it is not aware of ‘a microchip that Elon Musk has produced which he has inserted or is in the process of inserting and/or attaching to residents’ brains to control the community’.

Salisbury City Council in South Australia passes a series of motions to reassure residents that its smart infrastructure is not part of a  “One World Government” agenda for a “Great Reset” and does not use 5G towers “to kill or maim people” (

The Guardian


Postscript: Britain’s newest islets are made of wet wipes

The British Isles is acquiring some new additions. These nascent islets are not made of granite or limestone, but of agglomerations of wet wipes and mud. The largest is a metre deep, spans the width of two tennis courts and sits at a bend in the Thames by Hammersmith Bridge in London (

The Economist



Russell Crowe’s Indoor Garden Party

The offer to attend Russell Crowe’s Indoor Garden Party was, in clichéd movie-speak, too good to refuse.

Read more

The Saturday Paper

Secret document reveals academic threats

A confidential report warns that Australian academics are at risk of harassment, harm and intimidation from foreign governments and corporations.

Read more


Why it’s so expensive to see a doctor

More and more people have to pay to see a doctor, GPs are leaving the profession, and the cost of seeing a specialist is rising at an alarming rate. That’s why the government is promising the biggest overhaul to Medicare in its 40-year existence – the details of the plan could be released any day now.

Listen now

The Saturday Paper

Michael Clarke and the boys in a bubble

In the world of elite Australian cricket under the leadership of Michael Clarke, sportsmanship and a love of the game were subsumed by self-regard.

Read more


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