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Rudd promises more doctors

Rudd promises more doctors

Broadcast: 15/03/2010

Reporter: Chris Uhlmann

The Rudd Government has promised to spend more than $600 million over the next four years to employ
more General Practitioners. But will the latest government health promise deliver doctors where
they're needed?

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Another piece in the Rudd Government's health jigsaw has fallen into
place with a promise to spend $632 million over the next four years to address the chronic
undersupply of doctors.

The money will nearly double GP training places to 1,200 a year by 2014 and boost the number of
specialists.

It's been welcomed by health experts who say it will go a long way towards meeting the growing
demand for doctors.

But as the Government continues to press the states to sign up to its hospital funding plan, the
Opposition has again criticised Labor as a government long on announcements and short on follow
through.

Political editor Chris Uhlmann.

CHRIS UHLMANN, REPORTER: By some measures, maybe you are better off red.

Maybe Australia should take a leaf out of the Cuban healthcare systems book.

KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTER: A few problems of political freedom, but we'll leave that to one side.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Kevin Rudd's revolution lies in the future with the Commonwealth offering to assume
60 per cent of the running costs of all the nation's hospitals. The states would pick up the rest
and the hospitals would be grouped into regional management networks.

The states are yet to sign up to the plan, but the Prime Minister has announced another step in
health reform: more money to train doctors.

KEVIN RUDD: This represents new money for the system. This is a new investment for the future.
We'll be expanding these places as of next year.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Over the next four years the Government will spend an extra $632 million on GP and
specialist training. By 2014 that will buy an extra 400 training places a year for GPs, another 540
places for specialists and another 575 work experience places for young GPs.

NICOLA ROXON, HEALTH MINISTER: We know that we cannot fix the imbalances in our system if we don't
have a strong primary care system. And GPs are absolutely critical to that.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The Government says the spending will be offset by savings and health experts have
welcomed the cash.

LYNNE PEZZULLO, ACCESS ECONOMICS: For a long time there's been concerns about future supply
constraints in the general practice market and these will go some way to relieving that.

SIMON WILLCOCK, UNI OF SYDNEY: And to hear that we're now going to reach that target of 1,200
places - exactly the number that we've been asking for by 2014 - is very gratifying and certainly
will help to address some of the shortages that we've got at the moment.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Labor blames Tony Abbott for the decline in doctor numbers.

NICOLA ROXON: Of course the Leader of the Opposition was the Health Minister for many years. He
didn't tackle these problems; in fact he kept a cap on GP training places.

SIMON WILLCOCK: One of things that contributed to the shortage was that we had a cap on the number
of medical school places in Australia for around a decade, and that meant that we had only a
relatively small number of medical students graduating each year.

CHRIS UHLMANN: But there are other factors at work.

LYNNE PEZZULLO: The workforce shortages have arisen largely because of demographic ageing. As you'd
be aware, demographic ageing means that people are demanding more health services over time per
capita, and over time that means that the numbers of doctors have to increase much faster than the
population. Now this is a particular issue between 2010 and 2020. So the Government's reforms will
go some way towards redressing that.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The Opposition Leader believes the Government is long on announcements and short on
follow through.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: To get the training places, you've got to have arrangements in
place with the state governments, with the universities, with the public hospitals and with the
medical profession, because none of this training can be delivered without an appropriate clinical
setting and already the public hospitals are under great strain.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The Health Minister says the changes will deliver doctors where they're needed.

NICOLA ROXON: More GP training places for all those communities across the country who cannot
provide access to a GP.

CHRIS UHLMANN: But simply having more doctors doesn't mean they'll go to where the need is
greatest.

LYNNE PEZZULLO: Clearly there are still key issues about attracting doctors to the bush. There is
maldistribution. We have much fewer providers per capita in rural and remote parts of Australia
than what we do in metropolitan Australia. There are a number of programs that are trying to
redress those issues. I would think probably still more needs to be done in terms of getting
workforce to where it needs to be.

SIMON WILLCOCK: What we have to do and we currently do is incentivise rural and remote placements
and training placements to make sure that we have significant numbers of those entering general
practice training, both experiencing and developing skills in rural and remote practice.

CHRIS UHLMANN: While many including this government might rail against hospital waiting lists and
caps on the number of doctors, it's worth remembering that both provide a sluicegate for rationing
what are free or heavily discounted services. Without that kind of barrier, it's possible that the
cost of the health system might rise even more rapidly.

LYNNE PEZZULLO: When you have more doctors in the workplace, yes, that relieves a supply
constraint. It does means that there's going to be a greater investment in health. However what we
know is that in order to retain the current levels, the quality of service, just such an investment
is required. And what we see when we look at cost effectiveness analysis is that that's what
Australians want.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Health economist Lynne Pezzulo thinks the Government is heading in the right
direction with its reforms, but she's concerned that the move to activity-based funding might not
be enough to reign in health costs.

LYNNE PEZZULLO: I'm not sure that that particular efficiency measure is sufficient to redress the
long term financing issues that we can see in the next 20 to 30 years emerging. Basically these are
driving fiscal deficits and it's important to redress those in the future so that they're not
worsening, which is what we see when we look at the intergenerational report.

KERRY O'BRIEN: That was Chris Uhlmann reporting.

Australia gears for another resources boom

Australia gears for another resources boom

Broadcast: 15/03/2010

Reporter: Greg Hoy

Australia is gearing up for another resources boom as china warns that the global economy may yet
turn sour again.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has sent shivers through Western financial
markets with his warning that the global economy may yet slide into a double dip recession, which
could create problems even for China, which so easily shrugged off the Global Financial Crisis.
Notwithstanding Premier Wen's prediction China remains in an incredibly strong position to weather
any storm coming from the West, which is good news for Australia if the worst happens, and we'll be
talking about that shortly with a leading China expert.

Australia in fact is gearing up so much to meet China's ongoing hunger for raw materials that we're
heading rapidly back into the two speed economy that was creating giant headaches for government
and the Reserve Bank before the global crisis hit. In Western Australia particularly and to a
lesser extent Queensland the resources boom is accelerating towards high growth and a significant
labour shortage which has big ramifications for the rest of the economy. Business editor Greg Hoy
reports.

GREG HOY, REPORTER: Two worlds that seem so far apart, but remain intertwined. On one side of the
globe in Beijing yesterday, the Chinese Premier gave his sobering view there's a risk the world
will slide back into recession.

WEN JIABAO, CHINESE PREMIER (voiceover translation): In spite of the overall recovery, the major
challenges and problems in the global economy have yet to be fully addressed.

GREG HOY: Which would not bode well for Australian exports. But across the world a very different
story is unfolding Down Under.

Treasure Island: 130 k's off the north western Australian coast, the largest single resource
project in Australia's history is now underway. From the seabed surrounding Barrow Island, 40
trillion cubic feet of gas, equivalent to 6.7 billion barrels of oil will be extracted and
processed, most of it already pre-sold for export as liquid natural gas. The goldmine of Gorgon
alone will bolster Australia's GDP by around $64 billion.

KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTER (1 Sept., 2009): Which means jobs, which means growth, which means new
opportunities for Australia.

GREG HOY: All up, 10,000 workers will be required for its construction and the gargantuan Gorgon
project is just the beginning. With the nation's resource companies investing a record $50 billion
in new projects in the next year alone, heralding a new golden era for Australian resources.

GRAHAM BRADLEY, PRESIDENT, BUSINESS COUNCIL OF AUST: We've got a tremendous opportunity right at
the moment. We're at a stepping-off point, I believe, that could actually secure another decade or
more of very strong growth and prosperity for Australia.

JAMES PEARSON, WA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE & INDUSTRY: I think Australians need to realise that
something quite extraordinary is starting to happen in Western Australia. We predict that the
demand for labour alone over the next seven years will be at least 400,000 workers. Now on current
projections we're gonna fall 150,000 people short of meeting that demand. There is around $200
billion worth of capital projects in the pipeline cued to go ahead in WA. That's an extraordinary
situation for any economy to be in.

GREG HOY: So, what's the catch? Some say in surviving the global financial contagion the Federal
Government's $52 billion stimulus package did the trick, stimulating domestic demand, insulating
the Australian economy. Of course, that ignores the US$586 billion stimulus spending by China that
helped to keep the luck in the lucky country, by helping deliver $284 billion in resource exports
during the two years since the GFC started. With that total expected to double beyond $600 billion
in the next two years, as the Government's stimulus spending budget continues to run its course. So
which was the biggest stimulus for Australia's economy?

MICHAEL KNOX, CHIEF ECONOMIST, RBS MORGANS: We were saved by the best government in the world, and
it was Chinese. If you look back at the national accounts of the period, what we see, it was the
improvement in real net exports rather than domestic demand that saved the Australian economy from
going into recession.

GREG HOY: And already the Australian Bureau of Resource Economics has reported the volume of coal
and iron ore shipments in the last quarter hit a record high amidst predictions global prices for
coal and iron ore could soar by more than 60 per cent in the next month. Together with new project
investment, it raises the prospect: if China's resolve and Australia's luck holds that we are
facing a resources boom beyond any previously seen in Australia.

JAMES PEARSON: When people think about booms, they think about something that's going to get a few
people rich and get them rich quickly. I'm talking about a sustained period of high rates of
economic growth that should be of benefit to the whole nation, not just West Australia. That
requires sensible policy decisions in the near future by Perth and Canberra to make the most of
this opportunity.

GREG HOY: One bellwether of the Australian economy's prospects is the value of the dollar, which
has soared to record levels against most other world currencies. But opinions vary as to whether
the Aussie will continue its ascendency against the US Greenback.

RICHARD GRACE, CHIEF CURRENCY STRATEGIST, CBA: We're not expecting to reach parity, because we
think the US dollar will firm, preventing the Australian dollar from getting to parity.

MICHAEL KNOX: The US dollar will go down this year and next year and the Australian dollar will go
up relative to the falling US dollar. Right now we think that fair value of the Aussie dollar is
about 95 cents, but we think that fair value's gonna will drift up as we go through the year and
perhaps be over parity next year.

GREG HOY: But like China's political leaders, currency strategists must identify potential threats
to the confidence of the global economy, like a looming deadline at the end of March for the US
Federal Reserve to get out of the habit of buying toxic mortgage debt to prop up the huge US
government lending agencies Freddie Mac and Fannie May, which in turn prop up the US housing
market. It's a process soothingly called quantitative easing, and it must stop, analysts believe,
to increase confidence in the global economy.

RICHARD GRACE: You could envisage that scenario where the Fed comes in and has to undertake more
purchases of agency dead, so in a sense undertake more quantitative easing. Now the announcement of
that would be very negative for the US dollar and it would certainly be very positive for the
Australian dollar and you could envisage that would push the Australian dollar up towards parity.

GREG HOY: To fortify the Australian economy against such worst case scenarios and to even out the
boom and bust cycles, Australian business is calling for a list of significant reforms to maximise
benefits of the looming resources boom, commencing by diverting some of the remaining government
stimulus spending budget to deliver essential infrastructure.

GRAHAM BRADLEY: We need to have and build on the reforms of the last 30 years, which have opened up
our economy to trade, made our businesses more competitive.

GREG HOY: That means fundamental tax, labour and other reforms, business says, a view that is
shared in Western Australia, where the prospect of acute labour shortages across the economy looms
large as workers are increasingly lured by lucrative jobs in the resources sector.

JAMES PEARSON: West Australia needs more people and it needs them now. That means that the overall
migration intake for the nation might have to be changed. Certainly it has to be changed for
Western Australian because we have to have those people if we're going to turn these planned
projects into reality.

GREG HOY: It's the price of success in hitching a ride on the tail of the dragon economy and other
resource hungry nations of Asia, however long that ride may last this time.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Business editor Greg Hoy.

China's economic future

China's economic future

Broadcast: 15/03/2010

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

Kerry O'Brien speaks with a leading expert on the Asian economies, Richard Martin of IMA Asia -
following Chinese Premier Wen Jaibao's warning that the global economy may slip into a double dip
recession, which could create problems even for China.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Speaking of the dragon, when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao warns that the
world could dip back into recession, how would that impact on China this time and in turn on
Australia? Did China demonstrate after the last global recession that it has finally uncoupled from
the US and European economies and can maintain strong growth regardless? To answer those crucial
questions for Australia I spoke in Sydney late today with a leading expert on the Asian economies,
Richard Martin of IMA Asia, who spends his time travelling and consulting through the region.

Richard Martin, how much is China still linked to the major Western economies?

RICHARD MARTIN, CHINA ECONOMICS ANALYST: I think during 2009 it delinked and it was very clear in
the second half of the year. Why did it delink? Just the scale of the fiscal and monetary stimulus
they let loose in that economy. And how do you know it delinked? You look at the growth they were
getting in the second half of last year. i think in the third quarter they cranked growth up to
eight per cent, and then they took it higher in the fourth quarter. What was happening in its main
export markets at that time. You take the United States, European Union: 62 per cent of global
demand in those markets, the big export markets for China - third quarter of last year, they were
contracting at three per cent, and China's growing at eight per cent or more. It delinked.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And what impact did that have on the rest of Asia and for that matter Australia?

RICHARD MARTIN: Well, for the rest of Asia, this was the best news ever. And it's a bit of a puzzle
to work it out. 'Cause you look at the export numbers for the rest of Asia. Exports for a place
like Thailand in November went up 25, 30 per cent. But their exports to China specifically jumped
over 100 per cent. And you see the same pattern going in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong of
course and even Japan. I would say just about the only thing that got Japan out of recession last
year was demand from China. Now the biggest beneficiary. If you had to pick the one country in the
world that did best out of China's stimulus, it's Australia. It just pushed up demand for
construction and our materials went up. I think we did better than Hong Kong out of it.

KERRY O'BRIEN: What are China's biggest challenges right now?

RICHARD MARTIN: It's going too fast. It's going way too fast. I've just come back down from Hong
Kong, and talking to our clients up there, demand in January was stronger than we've seen in three
or four years. February is a bit complex 'cause of the lunar new year, but just the first few days
of March, demand shot up again. So, they're gonna have to cool that economy down. And this is an
odd situation where we're talking about in the advanced economies people are fearing a double dip
recession, yet in China it's running too fast and the focus now will be on slowing it down in the
second quarter of this year.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And in the way they slow that down, is there an economic model for what China is now
seeking to do and to what extent is this a leap into the unknown?

RICHARD MARTIN: It's a complete leap in the - there is no rule book on what you do in China.
Really, this is an economy that is a little bit of market economy, largely still a command economy,
and those are the tools they're using to keep that place under control this year, to stop it
gettin' too hot. So, there's no guide on this. And that is what scares the pants off the
stockmarket. They see Premier Wen Jiabao coming out and talking about how they might manage the
economy, how they might cool the real estate market, and everyone says, "Communists, can they slow
this market economy or semi-market economy down without tanking it?" There's a lot of fear there.
What do I think's gonna happen? I think they'll pull it off. They've worked really hard at this for
over a decade. They'll manage the economy down. It's not gonna be that pretty, but they'll manage
it down a bit. They'll get growth cooling off.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But when you say manage it down a bit, what would you expect growth to come down to
over the next 12 months, if it comes down?

RICHARD MARTIN: If it comes down. Of course there's always the golden - the goal is eight per cent
growth, and again that was restated this year. Eight per cent growth, three per cent inflation is
what they want. They're gonna get inflation significantly higher than that. It's gonna push up to
five per cent. There's a real inflation spike coming in China this year. Real growth will probably
be well over eight per cent, again 9.5 per cent. But unless they start cooling now, they could
easily put growth up to 10, 10.5 per cent, but blow inflation up to double digits.

Right now, something's happening we didn't expect to happen, which are our manufacturing clients
are running out of labour in the Pearl River Delta. This was a place that had 20 million unemployed
people last year. How do you run out of labour? Well the demand goes up so fast.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So how do you read Wen Jiabao's warning about the prospect of a double dip recession
in the global economy, and how seriously do you take his expressions of concern about how China
might be impacted?

RICHARD MARTIN: He's talking to two audiences when he speaks. The foreign press immediately read
this as a discussion with America about keeping the Renminbi pegged or not. But really the big
audience he's talking to is the China audience. I think the signal he's trying to get out to people
in China is we've had a great start to the year. We have a great finish to last year. But we've got
some problems on the plate here. We've got inflation moving up, we've got a bubble in our property
market. We had senior Chinese officials right at the start of the National People's Congress
putting their hand up to say, "Yes, there's a bubble in the property market." That should worry
everyone. So what do you expect to see in the second quarter here? They'll go slow on interest rate
increases, but they're really gonna tighten up their control of bank lending, their control over
investment in the real estate market and their control over investors in the real estate market -
households and state-owned enterprises.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So, if America falls back into recession, which in turn sends another shockwave
through the rest of the world, can China afford to just unleash another stimulus package, another
giant stimulus package of the size of the last one?

RICHARD MARTIN: They've got the money. That's it. At the end of the day, they have the money.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So to the extent that Australia now relies on China to cushion it against any
negative impacts from the Western economies, are you saying that we can be confident that a
resources boom here is guaranteed to continue regardless of what happens elsewhere in the world?

RICHARD MARTIN: The resources boom will. Now keep your eye on the public spending number. They've
cut their budget back from around 21 per cent growth last year to 11 per cent growth this year. And
that means they're not gonna be launching more infrastructure projects. That money's pretty much
gonna go through to what's on the table already. Now that might mean that the growth in export
shipments out of China won't be as fast as we saw last year. It'll still be strong, but not as
fast. But that's not the game now. The game is now moving to what China is pushing out of the
country and that's its own investment. We've seen that down here in Australia for four or five
years as they've pushed foreign direct investment into our resource sector, but the feeling that I
was getting last week up in Hong Kong is right across corporate China, whether its state-owned
enterprise, stock company or private company, corporate China is being told to go offshore with big
blocks of money, and this is gonna be a real game-changer for how commerce works, how global M&A
works over the next four or five years. And I suspect by the time we get into mid-2010, that is
gonna really focus our attention. It's - the last decade is about China's export rise. Exports
remain very strong this decade and go up a bit more. But what we start to deal with now is that
money moving out of China, not just into us and Africa and Laos and Cambodia; into the US to pick
up positions, into Japan to pick up positions and all of that. China dominates at the low cost end
of manufacturing and is moving up into middle manufacturing fast. What it wants to do now is get
the high technology and the distribution that you can get in the West. So, if you have a sick
manufacturing company in Germany, United States, Japan, it'll be a Chinese buyer who'll be looking
at it. And what they're after is technology, access and all of that. Is this any different to what
we saw Japan do 30 years ago? Not really, but the scale is gonna be bigger.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Richard Martin, thanks for talking with us.

RICHARD MARTIN: Thanks, Kerry.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The rapidly changing dynamics of the global economy.

Volunteers needed to conduct bat survey

Volunteers needed to conduct bat survey

Broadcast: 15/03/2010

Reporter: Jeff Waters

A group of Melbourne scientists is calling for volunteers to help conduct the world's largest
survey of its type. They will be searching the suburbs of Melbourne for a number of species of tiny
bats, which are far more numerous than most of us think. But which, anecdotally, are facing a rapid
decline.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: The debate of rapid population growth in Australian cities may be
primarily about its impact on people, but wild animal species living sometimes unseen in urban
environments are also suffering upheaval. In an effort to gauge the effects on one such animal, a
group of Melbourne scientists is calling for volunteers to help conduct the world's biggest survey
of its type. They'll be searching the suburbs of Melbourne for a number of species of tiny bats
which anecdotally are facing a rapid decline. Jeff Waters reports.

JEFF WATERS, REPORTER: Some bats enjoy a very high profile. Fruit bats, ore flying foxes, snooze
their days away beside waterways like the Yarra River, before heading out to raid backyards.

But in Metropolitan Melbourne at least, these plant eating mammals are greatly outnumbered by their
far more secretive insect eating relatives. Some surveys suggest microbats; that's the type that
uses echoes from soundwaves instead of sight and smell to get are present in just about every
backyard in the city.

In her work for Victoria's Department of Sustainability and the Environment, Dr Lindy Lumsden has
made a life out of studying microbats.

LINDY LUMSDEN, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTIST: I started using them for talks and thought oh, they need to
go to the museum at some stage. When they die in six months time I'll take them to the museum. And
that was 20 years ago and they still haven't died, so they obviously don't want to go to the
museum.

So what I'm feeding them on here is some mill worms. Mill worms are just the larvae of a beetle
that you can buy in pet shops.

JEFF WATERS: Dr Lumsden is eager to point out that as well as using sound to navigate, these bats
have a perfectly good set of eyes in their heads. They use their sight as well.

But when it comes to the existence of microbats in our suburbs, it seems it's we who are the blind
ones.

Microbats are almost everywhere. Suburban Melbourne is home to at least 16 species. But anecdotal
evidence points to a rapid decline in numbers.

So these scientists are looking for a huge number of volunteers to help them find exactly where the
wild things are.

RODNEY VAN DER REE, UNI OF MELBOURNE: Well, great. Thanks for coming tonight. The aims of the
project is to look at the bats across Melbourne and try and understand which species of bats still
occur in Melbourne and where they occur.

JEFF WATERS: The project, to survey a 40 kilometre radius from the central business district, is
being led by the University of Melbourne's Dr Rodney van der Ree.

RODNEY VAN DER REE: There's been one study that showed that one bat could eat 600 mosquitoes within
an hour. So potentially they're really, really valuable and they play important roles in the
ecosystem.

JEFF WATERS: But the ecosystem of our cities is changing. As populations grow, the cities become
wider and more dense. As older trees are removed, the bats are left with nowhere to roost.

RODNEY VAN DER REE: We've chosen this spot because it's kind of an archway under those branches, so
the bats when they're flying through the bush, they're looking for the easiest path they can find.

JEFF WATERS: The scientists are teaching volunteers who've joined up on the Earthwatch.org website.
It appears that to catch a bat, you have to think like a spider.

RODNEY VAN DER REE: Like that, under there like that. Yep. So they'll hit the fishing line, slide
down the fishing line and then they go into the bag. And once they're in the bag they can sit there
for a couple of hours without any problems. And then we come along at regular intervals during the
night and take them out.

It's an ideal method because there's very little injury to the bats. In fact I don't know of any
injuries that have occurred to bats in heart traps.

JEFF WATERS: And at night, the hunters return.

But there's more than one way to pin a bat.

Dr Fiona Carol uses an echo locator to identify their whereabouts.

FIONA CAROL, UNI OF MELBOURNE : Each different bat has a characteristic call, so we can identify
the bats from their calls here.

JEFF WATERS: Smaller suburban surveys using Australian-made bat detectors have yielded quite
amazing results.

FIONA CAROL: We've had these detectors set up in people's backyards. And one of the most
interesting thing is, no matter how sort of urban the suburb, we've found bats in every single bat
garden.

RODNEY VAN DER REE: Without having done the study just yet, I would be surprised if we weren't
finding bats in most people's backyards, down the main streets of most suburbs, in the middle of
the city.

LINDY LUMSDEN: Most cities will have quite a lot of bats in them. So microbats are quite common
throughout most areas and throughout most cities.

JEFF WATERS: On this night only one bat is retrieved from a trap, but it's one more bat for the
census, one more opportunity to finally meet the neighbours before they're run out of town.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Jeff Waters with that report.

That's the program for tonight. Join us at the same time tomorrow, but for now goodnight.