Why Marriage Equality Matters

When I put a private member’s bill on marriage equality before the Parliament in 2012 just 42 votes were recorded in favour.   Continue reading

How to save the Australian steel industry without tariffs or subsidies

The Port Kembla steelworks and industrial workforce have shaped the character and folklore of the Illawarra.   Continue reading

TIME TO RETHINK HOW WE TACKLE ILLICIT DRUG USE

We need a rethink about how we tackle illicit drug use. Around Australia the National Ice Taskforce has heard the same thing - handcuffs and paddy wagons aren’t the only answer. Instead, we need the criminal justice and health systems to work hand in hand.   Continue reading

Taking A Good Look At Mental Health In The Bush

Mount Isa is a sprawling mining town of some 22,000 people in remote, outback Queensland with a large fly-in fly-out workforce, low levels of schooling and a reputation for hard work. Access to many of the primary mental health care and community mental health care services is complicated and poorly integrated. Resources are stretched.   Continue reading

How To Defeat The Ice Epidemic In The Bush

Rural and regional Australia has a crystal methamphetamine problem.   Continue reading

Abbott Government In Trouble Without A Plan B

The Abbott government is in trouble. It has got its priorities wrong and has no plan for the everyday concerns of Australians.   Continue reading

GP Tax Mark II Bad For The Bush

Last week we witnessed the extraordinary spectacle of the new Health Minister, Susan Ley, walking away from Tony Abbott’s promise to cut the Medicare rebate for short consultations.   Continue reading

Bill Shorten: Condolence statement on MH17

- Parliament House, Canberra, 18 July 2014. Madam Speaker I rise to support the words of the Prime Minister – and I thank him for the conversations that we have had this morning. This news that we woke up to this morning is worse than shocking; it is debilitating, bewildering, with bewildering losses. Travelling at six miles height, this is unimaginable. This is a violation of the rules of civilisation. It is a tyrannical, wild act. And I appreciate that when I rang the Prime Minister this morning, he has been most forthcoming and, in a time when international events require one to put aside partisan issues,  I greatly appreciate it.   I acknowledge too the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and my colleague Tanya Plibersek, who have also been working on this. As this Parliament convenes, right now and throughout today there will be anxious families having their worst fears confirmed. 3 kilometres from the town of Grabove, near the Russian-Ukranian border, on a patch of disputed ground currently controlled by separatist terrorists, lies the scattered ruin of MH17.  Continue reading

Opinion piece: Government has dropped the ball on regional health

People living in rural and regional areas die up to seven years earlier than those living in major cities. This comes as a shock to many Australians.  Regional patients face a tough situation. There is a critical gap in their health services and outcomes. They pay more out of pocket. They wait longer for a diagnosis. They travel further for treatment. They die sooner than they need to. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) paints a bleak picture of rural and regional health in Australia today. They are more likely to have chronic disease like diabetes, melanoma and arthritis. They are more likely to be critically injured and between 1.3 – 2.6 times more likely to commit suicide. Despite this, per 100,000 people, regional patients have access to less than a third the number of physical and mental health specialists than those in major cities.   Continue reading

Culture Wars Return: Abbott vs the ABC

The campaign against the ABC is a Culture War we don’t need. It‘s not the role of any journalist or news agency to barrack for a particular team. It is certainly not the role of the ABC.  Over the 15 years that I’ve been dealing closely with the ABC, I’ve defend its independence and the right to report and broadcast the news as it sees fit – even when I’m the unwilling recipient of an ABC brickbat.   Continue reading