Dental care: UK v Oz

Rebecca Barnett writes: Re. “Extortionate dental care is our national disgrace” (Friday). While I entirely agree with Guy Rundle that the cost of dental care in Australia is a national disgrace his claims about British dental care are inaccurate. Non-cosmetic dental care in the UK is free only until you are 18. After this it costs 15 pounds for a check-up, which you are supposed to have every six months and which you are reminded to book for by the dental practice. Extra work, such as wisdom tooth extraction, costs more money. Admittedly this is still considerably less than in Australia and in my experience my British dentist has always advised on more limited, and therefore cheaper work, than Australian dentists. We need to rethink dental care in Australia but I do not think that it should be modelled on the British one.

Daman Langguth writes: The National Health Service dental scheme offers second-rate products and encourages rapid and not modern dentistry. There is no element of cosmesis when this is appropriate, and nearly all complex problems are likely to be treated with extraction as other options are not financed. Is Rundle so sure he needed a root canal? Or was that the only NHS option. Who on earth deserves to wait two or three hours to be seen? That’s contempt of people’s time. If you think you are going to get gold standard treatment from the feds you’d believe anything. I’m not a dentist, but I am a doctor, dentists did the best thing ever by not entering into Medicare.

Gun control policy

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Why debt is easier than guns: Obama’s twin challenges” (Friday). Charles Richardson compares gun control with the debt ceiling in American politics.

The real difference is that gun violence in the USA is a symptom of a long range social crisis, as is the phenomenal rate of incarceration highlighted by Richard Farmer in the same edition. Neither gun control or incarceration are likely to resolve the underlying crisis. Moreover, gun control is stymied by the constitutional right to bear arms. All things considered, this debate is largely symbolic.

The argument over the debt ceiling, however, centres on a short term economic crisis in which Congress votes have immediate consequences. It is not true, as Richardson argues, that the choice is between a default on debt and raising the ceiling. What the Republicans argue for is cutting expenditure, regardless of the fact the crisis has been caused by the bank bailout, not “welfare mothers” etc. This would necessarily weaken demand and probably push the economy further into depression. On the other hand, the Democrats argue that the government should boldy go deeper into the black hole of debt. There is no easy answer to this dilemma, apart from hoping for an economic upswing.

A bipartisan approach on either issue seems unlikely, and a solution to either crisis seems almost impossible.

John Doyle: the new Fran Kelly

Dylan Taylor writes: Re. “Gillard v Doyle on RN” (Media briefs, Friday)I must say I like John Doyle’s relaxed style of interviewing (and his general presentation of the Breakfast program on Radio National ) rather than the frenetic style of Fran Kelly and the lugubrious interventions from Michelle Grattan, who combine to make us feel that the world is about to end and we might as well just stay in bed and pull the doona over our heads than get up and face the day — even though we live in one of the most affluent nations on earth.

Doyle is an absolute blessing on a hot Canberra morning, I truly wish he could be a permanent fixture — instead of the “is this doing the government harm?” line that Kelly and her mates run. It might even improve the political discourse, by lowering the temperature several degrees!

Kim Lockwood writes: I quote: “Perhaps the same way she [Gillard] deals with loony ABC summer DJs: with grace and humour.”

Have you seen the TV series Changi? Have you seen Two Men in a TinnieDoyle was awarded a City of Newcastle Drama Award in 1981. His film credits include Bliss in 1985 and Babe in 1995.

Doyle’s outstanding contribution to Australia’s cultural scene, through theatre, radio and television was recognised with the granting of an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Newcastle in 2001. He delivered the 2005 Andrew Olle Media Lecture.

Doyle became a Member of the Order of Australia on June 16, 2010 for service to the media as a presenter and entertainer, and as a supporter of a range of charitable organisations, particularly the United Nations Children’s Fund in Australia.

A loony? I look forward to reading your apology.

Peter Fray

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