Since healthcare reform is on the agenda, try this for treatment in Australia. We live in Canberra and my six-year-old daughter had a grand mal seizure on Friday night at 10.30pm. She has never had one before. We called an ambulance and were taken to The Canberra Hospital. We have private health insurance and asked about private facilities, but were told after hours all children go to TCH. So, we arrived at the hospital, were (rudely) told they were busy, as they were, and had to wait in the waiting room. We were classed as a category 3 which is “urgent and to be seen within 30mins by a doctor”.

At 2.30am, after my daughter who was vomiting had had another small seizure in the waiting room, we politely enquired if she might be assessed soon and were told there were still four children in front of us. Since there were drug addicts, bad language, and drunks in the waiting room, and I am a registered nurse, we decided to go home, as the atmosphere was very upsetting to my a daughter and to us.

It also looked like at least another four hours’ wait, and I reasoned my daughter was better off at home sleeping in a bed since there was no one available at the hospital to see her. It turned out not to be the best decision as she had another serious fit at home, so we returned to the hospital immediately. We waited a further 2.5 hours before we were given a bed in the emergency room. A doctor finally saw her at 6.30am — eight hours after she had her first seizure. When we first arrived at 10.30pm there was a little boy of about 9 years old sitting beside us whose mother suspected he had a broken collar bone.

The staff had told her not to give him anything to eat or drink in case he had to have an anaesthetic. Her son was in great pain, and she was doing her best to support his arm and keep ice on it, but they had already been waiting three hours to be seen when we first arrived. They still had not been seen when we left at 2.30am. Try that for a broken system Mr Rudd!

The NSW division of the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) has purchased new headquarters in Macquarie Street near the NSW Parliament and around the corner from Governor Macquarie Tower, the operational headquarters of the State Government. The pub industry’s lobbying group has paid more than $6 million for two levels previously occupied by the American Club, a prestigious address with sweeping views of Sydney Harbour. The AHA’s old premises in the Haymarket, in the city’s Chinatown, were cramped, inadequate and unsustainable for an organisation of its size. With a state election to be held in 18 months, the AHA’s decision to shift into new premises at the heart of the CBD is a sure sign that lobbying of the major parties has begun in earnest.

You’ve gotta love the Adelaide media. Life in sleepy SA only gets interesting when state politics fires up with factional blues in the major parties, often resulting in unintended progeny. In the 50s the Labor split played out oddly in SA with the local DLP becoming a strong third force and eventually winding its way back into the ALP as its now dominant faction. In the 70s the Liberal split led to the creation of the Australian Democrats, half of whom went off to Labor as chardonnay socialists while the other half wandered back into the Liberal Party as its now blue-rinse left.

But the latest Liberal split has created another force. The “senior party sources” have become prolific. Almost every Adelaide journalist has attached themselves to flocks of these “senior party sources” because it seems no-one wants to talk on the record, or in a form that can be cross-checked, verified or tested. The sources have become such a gold mine for journalists that the major parties can now anticipate a State election where every third election poster will have a blank face and “Vote 1 -Senior Party Sources.” Reading the local media online is hilarious. Its like there’s no real people in Adelaide at all.

Deacons announced a pay-freeze today via group email months after most other firms had already notified their staff. It seems that while Deacons may be the first to merge with a London law firm, they’ve decided to follow the pack when it comes to preserving profits.

Staff at spin doctor Steve Bush’s short-lived attempt to enter art publishing via Art World were told yesterday that the magazine would either be closed or sold-off within 24 hours.

I have just spent 35 minutes on the telephone to the Australian Taxation Office. I received a letter from them thanking me for providing ‘the requested information relating to my PAYG amounts withheld from salary, wages and other payments for the year ended 30 June 2008.’ The letter informed me they had examined the information and ‘revised my activity statements to include an additional PAYG Withholding Liability of $1.’ I was informed that if I had not paid the amount by the original due date (how was I supposed to know? I didn’t know I owed $1) then I’d better cough up ‘as a general interest rate is now accruing against this amount.’

So after waiting for 20 minutes then supplying numerous pieces of evidence that I was indeed me and then waiting again before my interlocutor re-appeared to squeeze one final piece of evidence out of me – I was informed that I did indeed owe the ATO $1, and that no interest had accrued, and that if I transferred the amount electronically, that would be the end of the matter.

I was recently defrauded of the contents of my Commonwealth Netbank account by an imposter who wangled a password and did it on five separate days by Phonebank (not used by me for 10 years) and it was discovered only after I saw something fishy — the bank didn’t pick it up at all (and now claims it would be a breach of confidentiality to explain why not!) but to add insult to injury, then deducted the piffling amount of interest due for the five days the money was missing from my account!

And all the hours of e-mails, online patience etc required to right such wrongs, by all former public agencies (Qantas, Telstra whatever) who have offloaded their customer service operations to, guess who? The customer of course. Got a day to spare on the phone? Got three months to wait for a reply to a letter? Got any idea who to write the letter to in the first place? Who’s in charge of Customer Services at Telstra, Bigpond or the CBA? Found a website that gives addresses or phone numbers of real people? One thing that makes them jump — a complaint to the relevant Ombudsman.