Flood of people exit health insurance with “no wait surgery guarantee”

Member for Gaven  Dr Alex Douglas MP has predicted a flood of people cancelling their private health insurance in light of the State Government’s “no wait surgery guarantee”.

 “ The Health Minister appears not to have considered the impact of the guarantee on the state’s public hospital system and the avalanche of people cancelling their health insurance,” he said.

 “In Parliament today I asked Minister  Lawrence Springborg about the implications of the guarantee on private health insurance retentions but he couldn’t answer this,” he said.

 “Not only does the Minister refuse to either table the costs of this new initiative or say how it will be paid for, but he appears not to have even considered the impact on the public hospital system when there are huge numbers of people cancelling their health insurance.

 “It is a no-brainer that people will cancel ever increasingly expensive health funds if they don’t have to wait for free public elective surgery within a short time frame as being proposed.

 “Fifty percent of the public are now covered by private health insurance. 

 “Can Queensland afford so many to drop their cover and access the public health system?

 “The Minister, if he is aware of the estimated potential cost of this, will not say nor reveal to the parliament .

 “If the Minister has not done this costing then he is guilty of wilful neglect and incompetence.

 “These details are critical to prevent another potential health costs blow-out that would make the health payroll fiasco look like a picnic.”

Minister tight-lipped over China Rail’s purchase of Gold Coast rail operator

The Main Roads and Transport Minister has refused to answer a question by Member for Gaven  Dr Alex Douglas MP  in State Parliament on claims by Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate that China Rail is purchasing the company operating the Gold Coast light rail.

“Mayor Tate has been openly telling people on the Gold Coast that he has been in China negotiating the sale of GoldLinQ to China Rail, but when I asked the Minister today he avoided the question,” Dr Douglas said.

“The Minister did however say that the growth of patronage of the light rail was disappointing and well below the estimates provided by the former Labor Government before the rail was constructed,” Dr Douglas said.

“Whilst he blamed this on Labor, he said the LNP government would work with anyone who will honour existing contracts.

“It seems that where Tom Tate and transparency are involved, it’s the epitome of an oxymoron.

“With Parliament wrapping up tomorrow, I wanted a straight answer from the Minister about what is really going on with GoldLinQ and deals with the Chinese on the Gold Coast.

“By the time Parliament resumes, Tom Tate could have well delivered an early fortune for the Chinese New Year and the year of the goat.

“Does anyone think that it is strange that Mayor Tate is selling a joint local/state/federal Government owned asset and the responsible Minister either does not know nor care that a newly built $1.3 billion transport system in Australia’s tourist capital is being flogged off earlier than our ports, energy generators and power networks ?  The year of the goat indeed?”

Here is the Hansard transcript: 

Dr DOUGLAS: My question is to the Minister for Transport and Main Roads. Gold Coast Mayor, Tom Tate, has publicly stated at a meeting of southern Gold Coast business owners that he had just returned from China negotiating the proposed sale of GoldLinQ—operators of the Gold Coast light rail—to China rail, and I ask: can the minister inform the parliament regarding details of the prospective purchase by China Rail of GoldLinQ, the operators of Gold Coast light rail, funded by state taxpayers?

Mr EMERSON: I thank the member for Gaven for the question. In terms of GoldLinQ, they have an ongoing contract with us as part of a PPP to provide services. That contract was signed prior to us coming to office. All those obligations continue in terms of GoldLinQ providing Gold Coast light rail.

Since light rail commenced we have seen strong numbers but not as strong as indicated. The business case first put forward by Labor was a flawed business case. They were forecasting figures of more than 40,000. Each day we are seeing figures of 20,000 at the moment. It is still early days. Clearly that contract is in place, no matter who the owner is, to provide that service. There are very clear obligations in that contract. The owner, whoever they are, is obliged to provide maintenance, equipment and services on an ongoing basis as part of the agreement signed, as I said, before we came to office. We will keep them in place.

In terms of public transport on the Gold Coast, not just the light rail, I point out that since we have come to office we have increased peak morning and peak afternoon services on the Gold Coast heavy rail line. We have seen a 30 per cent increase in morning peak services and a 40 per cent increase in afternoon peak services. As you know, before we came to office many people on the Gold Coast would have been very much aware, including members on the Gold Coast such as the member for Coomera, who travelled with me on the Gold Coast heavy rail from the Gold Coast to Brisbane, of the ‘Bombay Express’. Again, since we have come to office we have worked to increase services on the Gold Coast line—a 30 per cent increase in morning peak services and a 40 per cent increase in afternoon peak services.

All of those travellers on the Gold Coast have also benefited from our historic cut to public transport fares—a five per cent cut statewide. It is the first time any government in Queensland history has cut public transport fares. That is on top of, of course, the fact that Queensland Rail services are now running the most reliable on-time services ever in their almost 150-year history and are now the most reliable on-time running services of any metro system in—

Dr DOUGLAS: Madam Speaker, I rise to a point of order.

Madam SPEAKER: Pause the clock. What is your point of order?

Dr DOUGLAS: I asked if the minister could provide detail of the prospective—

Madam SPEAKER: What is your point of order?

Dr DOUGLAS: Relevance, Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER: The minister has time on the clock. I remind members when they are putting a point of order to actually put the point of order, not to debate the question they have already asked. I call the minister.

Mr EMERSON: As I was saying, there are extra services on the Gold Coast and Queensland Rail is now the most reliable metro rail system in Australia. Since coming to office, not just in terms of rail but also in terms of public buses, we have put on an additional 3,000 bus and train weekly services. So we have dealt with the mess left to us by Labor in terms of fares, made services more reliable and also put more services on across public transport.




Be careful when booking your holiday

 Member for Gaven  Dr Alex Douglas MP has warned people to check with their travel agent if they are part of the new voluntary accreditation scheme operated by the Australian Federation of Travel Agents before booking holidays.

“Just recently two aged pensioners from Highland Park outlaid $6000 for the holiday of a lifetime, but the tour company Australian Speciality Tours went into liquidation in August and they lost their money,” he told Parliament.

 “The new accreditation scheme ATAS began on July 1 but unfortunately for my constituents, Australian Speciality Tours was not part of this scheme.

“It is important for people to check if their travel agent is part of the scheme available to travel agents and suppliers of travel and travel related services which may obtain insurance to cover business collapses and their own insolvency.

 “Back in May when the Tourism Minister said the former Travel Compensation Fund which ceased on June 30, had become increasingly redundant, that it had placed a costly administrative burden on the industry and the changes reduced red tape, she claimed the changes would maintain appropriate protection for consumers.

“The Minister and the LNP government spruik red-tape reductions at every opportunity, good or bad, but in this case it has clearly left my constituents without their money.

“They are pensioners and this is a lot of money for pensioners for what would have been a holiday of a lifetime.”

Tattoos lead to slow diagnosis of skin cancer

Independent Member for Gaven Dr Alex Douglas MP has warned that tattoos can lead to a slow diagnosis of skin cancer.

“I want to highlight this because Queensland has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, and with an increase in tattoos, our cancer rate may well be increasing as well,” he said.

“Subtle skin changes can be disguised within a tattoo and lead to a poorer patient outcome.

“As a long-standing GP,  I know that sometimes tattoos can make it difficult to distinguish moles because they become less visible when surrounded by tattoos.

“Tattooing in Australia, as occurring internationally,  is becoming much prevalent. Also the size and distribution of tattoos makes the problem of skin cancer detection more difficult.

“Whilst it is a fashion or cultural statement for many, tattoos are also contributing to a slow diagnosis of skin cancer.

“A report completed by three Brisbane dermatologists and an English specialist in the latest Australian Family Physician magazine says the risk is magnified by the increasing prevalence of tattoos, their popularity in the group least likely to adopt sun protection behaviour and a reported higher prevalence of sunburn.

“Tattoo ink may camouflage the clinical signs of skin cancer resulting in a delay in detection. “For health practitioners, macroscopic assessment can be additionally challenging because of tattoo ink colours and possibly detection is more difficult with dark coloured, compared with light coloured tattoos.”

Our Premier wants Queenslanders to subsidise India’s cost of electricity

“The Premier has just admitted in Parliament today that the LNP Government has done everything right in its approach to dealing with the state’s contribution to the rail infrastructure for the Adani proposed mine,” Member for Gaven, Dr Alex Douglas said.
“The Premier said it is reasonable for the state to pay for the rail for the Galilee basin coal development to get the project going and to help India with its electricity supplies.
“It would seem he now believes that all Queenslanders need to subsidise India’s costs of supplying electricity.
“In defence of the LNP’s generous handout the Premier tabled a letter written by former Premier Peter Beattie about a $28  million contribution by the state for rail infrastructure for the Coppabella mine to proceed.
“The letter was written in 2002 but its contents were not revealed until 2007.
“Premier Newman then justified the massive $2 billion contribution to the Adani rail infrastructure by saying that the public have been told by the government that this is occurring, rather than finding out five years later as they did when Premier Beattie revealed it in a court case.
“Premier Newman says this deal with Adani is better because he has told the Parliament.
“Clearly, two wrongs don’t make a right. They never have nor ever will.
“The Coppabella grant to the late Ken Talbot and the Adani ‘loan’ of a still unclear estimated amount of possibly  $2.2 billion are both wrong on many levels.
“They give the public no ownership nor return on investment.
“Campbell Newman’s LNP Government is taking a major unnecessary risk with the real possibility of a total financial loss by financing a rail-link for Adani in the Galilee Basin coal development.
“The Adani coal mine and plan is uncommercial, no bank will fund this extension and the market has said so.
“The proposed Adani rail-line being funded by the LNP government  may even need to be replicated in the future to facilitate properly commercially-funded mines and transport infrastructure at Alpha.
“Campbell Newman has exposed this state to huge risk by massively contributing to the funding of an Indian owned rail line which will only bring benefits to the end user of electricity in India and will leave us all very exposed.”