Drug dealing more expensive in Canberra. While most government departments are slashing jobs to meet the Commonwealth’s efficiency dividend, the Therapeutic Goods Administration apparently is demanding an increase. As one Canberra spy told us:

“The TGA have asked for a whopping increase of 5.6% in fees and charges for the coming year. This is the ‘normal’ indexed increase of 3.6% plus a further amount to pay for reforms and charges. This has upset at lot of people, not so much because of the cost but because the TGA isn’t required to implement an efficiency dividend to the Commonwealth as the TGA can increase fees and charges every year. The increase has met with opposition from ADIA (dental), MA, GMIA, ASMI (medicines), and IVD Australia (in-vitro testing). Parliamentary Secretary Catherine King is lacking the balls to stand up to the TGA to make them become more efficient. The story goes that a perceived ‘cut’ to the TGA budget would support arguments that they are an ineffective regulator. The TGA’s budget is about $120 million this year and they move an awful lot of paper around but can’t seem to actually enforce the regulations.”

Medicare rebates cash only. It’s true, as we hinted yesterday, that Medicare will progressively not give you cash for rebates. “Already happening in Geelong,” writes one Crikey reader. Indeed, Human Services Minister Brendan O’Connor announced earlier this year that cashless rebates would be trialled at several offices. Apparently only 8% of benefits are still paid in cash.

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Rolling out the carbon-neutral carpet. From the 3AW Rumour File: “Caller Carpet Tax says when federal government buildings need new floor coverings replaced, a director from the carbon tax dictates the new coverings must come from a US supplier, the only carbon-neutral supplier of carpet. She says it is costing local suppliers $150 million and threatening jobs.” How do you even make carbon-neutral carpet?

No room for student services at Mac Uni? Is Macquarie University trying to close down its independent postgrad association? An insider reports:

“The DVC Students and Registrar, Dee Anderson, a non-academic, has suddenly announced the MacUni postgrad association, MUPRA, is to be subject to an independent audit and a demand for the return of funds accumulated before voluntary student unionism. Why? Because MUPRA has been trying to get regular funding from the university after the reintroduction of student activities fees this year. The university is claiming it didn’t know MUPRA had reserves (on which it has survived since 2007) despite MUPRA offering the vice chancellor the money in a meeting in return for funding in late 2007. Sydney and NSW universities have funded their postgrad associations which provide independent services such as advocacy and representation, as has MUPRA despite financial constraints and annual independent financial audits.”

As Anderson said in the email: “The university has decided that it is more appropriate that all postgraduate services be provided by the university directly from now on rather than through MUPRA or other organisations.” So no room for student organisations? And as our spy asks: “Which university service is going to support a student who is fighting a university decision?”

Seven’s lifesavers report angers community. Surf lifesavers are furious over Ross Coulthart’s report for Sunday Night last weekend on the death of a competitor at Kurrawa Beach. The Seven show’s own Facebook page has been inundated with 400-plus comments, most of them critical (to their credit, the comments remain). As one supporter, Nik Foon, writes:

“Channel 7 Sunday night program you are an utter disgrace to the Australian Community and Spirit. For why you would slam and accuse SLSA for being the soul cause of the accidental death of Mathew Barclay, a 14-year-old boy who was tragically lost in Australian SLS competition is beyond my answers. I would put my money on you Mr. Disgraceful Ross Coulthart that as a typical journalist would not have even been out swimming in the ocean in any type of surf, in conditions that Matt Barclay would have trained in in preparation for the Australian titles.”

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Peter Fray
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