The ability of the Rudd government to comprehensively overhaul the nation’s health system must be seriously doubted when the Health Minister lacks the nerve to stand up to vested interests in the first cab off the rank — maternity services reform. Nicola Roxon has set up a Maternity Services Advisory Group to implement the recommendations of the Maternity Services Review, which included giving some midwives access to the PBS and Medicare — a move the Minister described as an “historic step forward for midwives”.

Surprisingly the advisory group includes no currently practising midwives. There are two representatives from the Australian College of Midwives and a midwifery academic, but no midwives who are actually working in the system (still a total of only three members representing the perspective of midwives). Compare this with the 11 members who are doctors and specialists and you start to see that it is highly unlikely that group will facilitate any comprehensive reforms.

Regarding the ABC Metropolitan and Regional Managers and the successful appointment of two internal candidates. The serious question is surely not about whether the jobs could be done from anywhere else but Sydney (they could be) but whether these critical, national editorial positions were advertised outside the organisation and if not why not? Commercial broadcasters understand better the need to canvass the field, to consider new blood, to rattle the cage … to avoid the limitations which emerge from breeding in a limited gene pool. Do you hear banjos?

The current member for Dickson Peter Dutton did not live in Dickson when he was pre-selected for the seat, he lived at the Grange. The portrayal of Fiona McNamara in “Tips and Rumours” in Crikey yesterday as a lightweight candidate is laughable given that she would have dumped Dutton if 130 extra votes had come her way. She lost on postals, in part because Dutton, once again, sent out postal votes before the election was called — such behaviour always gives an edge in postals. The story in Dickson is that McNamara reduced Dutton to tears on election night as, thinking he had lost; he became so overwrought that his father had to finish his speech for him. Not bad for a lightweight.

Just want to point out that Oxfam AND Crikey have forgotten the Maldives, whose president recently announced he was looking to evacuate his entire 350,000 people to either Sri Lanka or Indonesia because his entire country was going to disappear rather fast beneath the ocean. In some places the islands have been sandbagged to a height of two to three metres already!

One would have thought the major sponsor of MasterChef would have been in a better position to capitalise on its success. However at 5.30pm on Sunday 26 July at my local Coles in Balaclava, Melbourne showed a fresh food department stripped almost bare and customers not happy.  Most fresh herbs, all loose button mushrooms, free range fresh chicken and many other fresh items were sold out with several cooking basics (like shallots) not even stocked.

Meanwhile in Honduras: Ms. Myrna Castro, new Minister of Culture, supported by the new Dictator Roberto Micheletti and well-known as defender of physical burning of books, has just dismissed Ms. Natalie Roque and Ms. Rebeca Becerra, heads of National Archives and Library, respectively, and well-known democrats. Some of the first measures adopted by the new Minister involve destruction of records and press releases on Micheletti’s past, as well as prohibition of publication and access to public records, cancellation of literacy campaigns, closing of the Centre for Historical Research, which has become literally a barracks, etc.