Melanesia (Western Pacific /Southern Hemisphere) Na World Nius # 5

Bonjour!

http://www.voiceofmelanesia.com/
Always drift by VOM site..DEDICATED TO THE STATE OF MELANESIA/WESTERN PACIFIC.
You all have a fab week!

OPEN INVITATION:Melanesians and Friends/Australian based or visiting:

The West Papuan freedom dance ‘Yospan’ is taking the world by storm.. Learn the moves and dance in solidarity for West Papuan independence on the 1st December 2012 12pm State Library Melbourne. COME ON DOWN IN NUMBERS – Come and support Our Melanesian Wantoks from West Papua.

Regards- Phil 

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Friday, November 16, 2012 1:56 PM

2)Free Trade to Open Up Soon

 

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) of which Solomon Islands is a part of, is now ready to implement its Free Trade Agreement between at least three of its four members.

It follows a recent breakthrough from Papua New Guinea, who agreed to dramatically scrap duties on almost all of its protected goods.

In a recent interview with Radio Australia’s Sean Dornney, Ms. Merewalesi Falemaka, Port Vila based Director of Trade and Investment, Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat, the MSG Trade Agreement is based on a Negative List where all the MSG Countries have agreed to trade duty free on all products except a list of sensitive products which would gradually be reduced over time to zero. 

Since 2009 Fiji had been applying duty free status to all MSG products. Vanuatu started in 2010. Solomon Islands started in 2011. And Papua New Guinea with its recent gazettal in September has now completed the process of its implementation. 

So all the MSG countries are now applying and according preferences under the Agreement to each other. The significant part is that when Papua New Guinea gazetted its negative list they have actually accorded duty free on all products rather than gradually reducing duties over time which was allowed in the Agreement because of the lapse of time that had happened since the Agreement was signed in 2005, PNG has now decided to grant duty free on all those products except three. 

There were about 50 products that were on that list. So now they have actually gone to duty free on all those products except for those three, three products which are mackerel, salt and sugar which are the only exceptions. So now all the four countries are implementing the Agreement fully. 

So Vanuatu will actually go to zero next year in 2013. At the moment its tariffs on the Negative List is at 6%. So three of the MSG countries will virtually be trading duty free amongst themselves in 2012 – Fiji, PNG to be followed by Vanuatu next year.

What the MSG Leaders have also decided in 2005 is for members to explore a scheme for the movement of MSG professionals recognising the shortage of skills in some MSG countries and that they would gradually open up the labour market. So what has happened is Leaders launched the MSG Skills Movement Scheme in March this year and that has come into force on the 30th of September.

here is now an interesting, emerging trend within the MSG Countries which is also where the demand for skilled MSG nationals is coming from. And that is we observe an increasing trend towards intra-MSG investment. Now the MSG Trade Agreement is about the movement of goods. The SMS is about the movement of people – labour. 

This intra-MSG investment is about the movement of capital between the MSG countries. And just to cite a few examples in recent years: Credit Corporation is in three of the MSG countries. Apart from PNG it’s in Fiji and Vanuatu. Also in the financial sector there’s BSP which is now also in those three MSG Countries although we understand it’s also trying to get into Vanuatu as well. 

So that’s in the financial sector. In the tourism sector, the Lamana Hotel Development Group which invested in the Heritage Park in Honiara and is in joint venture with the PNG super funds and the Fiji Provident Fund to refurbish the Grand Pacific Hotel in Fiji. We understand the Tanoa Group has taken over the Moorings Hotel here in Vanuatu – from Fiji. So there’s the Tanoa Group from Fiji. 

In the retail sector we’ve seen the entry here in Vanuatu of Punga’s in 2010 and also MH Cash and Carry also in Vanuatu which to us is also an extension of the goods trade. They’re actually coming in to retail their products within the MSG countries. And we understand that Punga’s is thinking of going up to Papua New Guinea. 

In the computer IT services we have Daltron probably in all the Pacific countries – I’m not quite sure about Solomons. Datec is in all the MSG countries. So that’s in the computer IT and then we have Airline Services that are also – Air Niugini that is going into the other MSG countries – Fiji, Solomons. Air Vanuatu has now launched a new service into Suva. 

This is an interesting time for the MSG countries as we see it given the goods agreement that is now taking shape, progressing; we have the Skills Movement Scheme which has been launched and already some of these investors like the banks already indicate that there are shortages. And they are already moving people. 

In BSP they’re moving Papua New Guineans into Solomon Islands or Fijians into Solomon Islands to try and strengthen the capacity within BSP. So this is what some of these investments will do.

Category: Economy

Topic: Melanesian Spearhead Group

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au

3)University needed here, says Rodie

FRIDAY, 16 NOVEMBER 2012 04:34
DEPUTY director of Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE) Dr Patricia Rodie says it’s appropriate for the country to have its own university.Appearing before the Bills and Legislation Committee yesterday, Dr Rodie said the taskforce spearheading the establishment of the university was pleased the bill is now before parliament. “This bill is an important piece of legislation that would enable the government turn SICHE into the country’s university,” she said.

Dr Rodie, who is deputy chair of the taskforce, assured the committee they are also working hard to strengthen the courses and programmes at SICHE.

“We are also working at establishing quality teaching and improve our lecture theatre and Information Technology system (IT).

“The taskforce will employ the best Solomon Islanders to teach and also engaged overseas lecturers.

“This means working on a new salary structure to attract overseas lecturers.”

Dr Rodie added that the taskforce will ensure courses offered are in line with regional and international standards.

“We thank the Australian government for assisting the taskforce in its work.

“We also have plans to build partnership with regional and international universities.”

By Elliot Dawea 

http://www.solomonstarnews.com/news/national/16472-university-needed-here-says-rodie

4)2012 Charity Queen is Stephanie Prince

FRIDAY, 16 NOVEMBER 2012 04:48

Newly crowned Ms Charity, Stephanie Prince.

STEPHANIE Prince, Miss Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau has been crowned the 2012 Miss Charity.
The crowning ceremony was held at the festival village, Panatina last night.Ms Prince snatched the crown for raising the highest amount of money for charity.

She was the Miss Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau (SIVB) who raised a total of $142,52.00.

Eight queens had been sponsored by various companies and organizations in the past months to raise funds for charity organizations.

The total money raised by the queens stood well over $600,000.00.

The crowning of the 2012 Miss Solomon is scheduled for this Saturday.

http://www.solomonstarnews.com/news/national/16475-2012-charity-queen-is-stephanie-prince

5)Superyacht Phocea: glamour, mystery, fame and notoriety galore

Posted on November 16, 2012 – 3:51pm |
‘Phocea at her grandest’ .

Some yachts just can’t seem to stay out of the headlines. Phocea, aka La Vie Claire and Club Mediterranee, is one of those and it’s no different today, creating much controversy on the wharves and in the corridors of power in Vanuatu.

Phocea was built in Toulon in 1976 for the well-reputed, single-handed yachtsman Alain Colas, who called her Club Mediterranee. Even her launching was spectacular. As the largest sailing boat in the world at the time, they had no way of turning her, so she started life with a bang/splash, upside down. She was given four masts, each Bermuda rigged, and was made so long in an effort to give her more speed.

She competed in a Trans-Atlantic race for Colas, coming disappointingly second. As punishment, she was fitted out with an interior and banished to the other side of the world, to sail around French Polynesia as a charter yacht. Then, dramatically, her owner Alain Colas disappeared at sea in 1978 just off the Azores whilst racing in the Route du Rhum aboard another sailing vessel.

But her glamour was only increased by these bizarre events. In 1982 French business man Bernard Tapie bought her and had her converted to a private yacht at great expense. Tapie christened her Phocea, in honour of the Phoenicians who founded Marseilles where she was refitted. During the refit, the hull was extended to 74.20 metres and the masts by 6 metres. Interior designer Jacques Pierrejean decorated the Phocea in a strong, bold 1970’s design with a lot of colour and incorporated nine guest areas, including an owner’s suite, a hairdressing salon, a dining room, an office and accommodation for a crew of 18.

So far so good – she’s still in the headlines as the largest yacht in the world, now a luxury yacht, sailed by the high profile charismatic businessman and politician, Tapie, who was also and occasional actor, singer, and TV host. For a time she was known as La Vie Claire, after his chain of health clubs. But Tapie was to become even more high profile – in the worst possible way – when his star was exploded by allegations of corruption and fraud and he went to jail for a time. Later he also lost most of his money.

However, Phocea’s star was still rising, because in 1997 her allure was enhanced when she was bought by none other than Mouna Ayoub, ultra-glamorous French socialite, made rich by her divorce from a high-born adviser to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, Nasser Al-Rashid.

To renovate the boat she had to sell one of her diamonds, the largest yellow diamond in the world, and several other lesser jewels to pay for the $17 million refit. The builder modernized the yacht and sail systems and upgraded the engineering to become state of the art. In 1999, a refurbished Phocea left the yard with a rigging that had no equal in the world.

But bad times were coming. In 2004, the Athena was launched by American billionaire Jim Clark, longer, newer, smarter, more high tech.

Obviously devastated about her fall from the pinnacle, in 2005 Phocea wasn’t watching what she was doing and crashed into rocks off Sardinia while the Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were aboard. Three people were seriously injured, and the yacht was damaged below the waterline.
Obviously Mouna Ayoub would have been seriously distressed by the shock to her famous guests, but there’s no record of whether that is the rea
son that she sold the yacht soon after.
Now Phocea’s story becomes a little darker, because exactly who bought her from Ayoub is not clear. Although she rema
ined formally flagged to the land-locked Duchy of Luxembourg, she was reputed to be owned by a Thai national, Anh Quan, who, this year, became a Vanuatu citizen.
As for Phocea, she sailed from Italy through the Panama Canal, to Tonga and arrived in Vila nearly in July.

Then the plot thickened, and the Phocea was in the news for all the wrong reasons. Questions were raised about what the Phocea had on board, with dark implications about drugs and illegal arms.

In August she was raided by Vanuatu authorities on suspicion of drug smuggling and passport fraud and 13 of her crew members arrested. Owner Pascal Anh Quan Saken, at the time on the way to becoming Vanuatu’s Honorary Consul to Vietnam, left the country just before the raid, but the vessel was impounded and has been in Vanuatu ever since.

Then the policeman who started the investigation was suspended, and it was reported in the local Vanuatu press that two ministers of the government went on board the vessel without customs clearance.

The story then degenerates into claim and counter-claim of fraud and deception by both police and local politicians.
This week sources close to Vanuatu’s Ports and Marine say $40,000 has been set aside in an out-of-court agreement for the yacht to be allowed to leave Port Vila harbour.

Yachting experts say if Phocea is put on sale, Vanuatu could get more than six million dollars, a paltry sum, given the amount spent on the yacht.
Vanuatu authorities have already spent more than $200,000 in their investigations into the super yacht, which is expected to sail shortly to beat the cyclone season.

The Prime Minister Sato Kilman has instructed that Anh Quan’s diplomatic passport be cancelled.
So Phocea is still gorgeous, still dragging in the headlines, and maybe, just maybe, for sale!

About the Phocea:
Phocea is a 75.15m (246’6’ft) sailing yacht. She was last refitted in 2000, but her interior was designed by Beiderbeck Designs.
This luxury yacht has a steel hull with a aluminium superstructure, a beam of 9.57m (31’4’ft) and a 6.13m (20’1’ft) draft. She features bow thrusters to assist manoeuvrability at low speeds. Phocea is built to comply to MCA and ABS standards.

Phocea Accommodation

Phocea offers accommodation for up to 12 guests in 6 suites comprising 1 owner cabin, 1 VIP cabin, 2 double cabins, 2 twin cabins. She is also capable of carrying up to 15 crew onboard to ensure a relaxed luxury yacht experience.
Sail-World.com

http://www.dailypost.vu/content/superyacht-phocea-glamour-mystery-fame-and-notoriety-galore

6)Cruise ships flocking in with more tourists

Posted on November 16, 2012 – 3:53pm |
By

Thompson Marango

More and more tourists are expected to be pouring in from now until early next year particularly from the high number of cruise ships already arriving at famous Vanuatu tourism destinations.

Of the 18 days left of November, 15 cruise ships are expected at different tourism Ports throughout the country.

Schedules for arriving liners from agents shows that November this year until January next year 2013 will be the busiest ever as far as tourist arriving by sea is concern.

For December alone at least 20 visits will be made by at least 9 different cruise ship to 6 different destinations.

The high number of cruise ship visits is expected to continue bombarding the famous Vanuatu tourist spots until January next year.

According to the National Statistics Office, Cruise ship figures have increased when compared to the last year due to an additional cruise ship visit this year.
Port of calls already listed on schedules includes Port Vila, Mystery Island, Walah, Champagne Bay, and Luganville.

Cruise ships that will be bringing in what is likely to be a record number of tourists arriving by sea in this time frame are Pacific Dawn, Pacific Venus, Pacific Pearl, Sun Princes, Oosterdam, Pacific Jewel, Oceanic Discoverer, Radience, Rhapsody, and Carnival Spirit.

The increase in the number of cruise ships and tourist arriving is can be attributed to the efforts of tourism authorities and people in the industry are encourage to take advantage of the increase by making products available to tourists.

Tourism is still one of the highest revenue generating sector in the country.

http://www.dailypost.vu/content/cruise-ships-flocking-more-tourists

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Accueil › Pays– NEW CALEDONIA:

7) Daniel Goa aux manettes

Publié le lundi 19 novembre 2012 à 03H00

Fidèle à la ligne défendue par Charles Pidjot, Daniel Goa a été porté hier à la présidence de l’Union calédonienne avec 58 % des voix. Le nickel se place au cœur d’un plan d’attaque.

Elu hier matin à la tête de l’Union calédonienne pour un an, Daniel Goa se veut militant pour « un travail, qui au fur et à mesure, va rassurer les gens, sans division, avant les échéances ».

Les militants ont opté pour « la continuité du travail engagé par Charly ». A l’issue du 43e congrès installé ce week-end à La Foa, Daniel Goa a été élu président de l’Union calédonienne. Ce fidèle de Charles Pidjot, leader disparu en septembre dernier au Vanuatu, a récolté 114 voix face à Pierre Chanel Tutugoro, soutenu par 80 bulletins. Pourtant, « j’étais favori, c’est sûr », observe le finaliste déçu, dont le nom avait été porté par des structures, comme la règle du parti l’indique. « Il y a eu des discussions entre samedi midi et (dimanche) matin, ce qui ne m’étonne pas, c’est le jeu. » D’ailleurs, en y pensant bien, « j’ai eu 17 voix qui ont manqué à l’appel », calcule Pierre Chanel Tutugoro. Le poids des Îles a sans doute pesé dans la balance.

Au-delà du match électoral, ce duel a traduit l’opposition entre deux tendances du mouvement indépendantiste. Une ligne défendue par Pascal Naouna et la région païci, invoquant un chemin FLNKS sans concession. Et à côté, un discours avancé par Charly Pidjot, prônant dans un proche passé l’unité du Front mais aussi le rapprochement avec le Rassemblement-UMP. Une alliance Rump-UC-Parti travailliste- Avenir ensemble, d’ailleurs aujourd’hui bel et bien morte. Cette dernière orientation l’a hier emporté, lors d’un congrès qualifié par tous d’« apaisé », « sans tension ».

Sphère. Daniel Goa, ancien commissaire général du parti, prend maintenant le fauteuil. Pour aller où ? « Je suis simplement un militant qui défend la ligne politique dans laquelle Charly s’est inscrit », note l’homme originaire de Hienghène, qui était convaincu d’un point : « Il fallait aller au-delà de la sphère indépendantiste. » En clair, tisser des passerelles pour construire « un projet commun ». Collaborer et convaincre du bien-fondé de l’objectif de souveraineté, l’idée, bien entendu, demeure.

La politique de partage entre l’Union calédonienne et le Rump avait fait grincer des dents. Notamment celles de Paul Néaoutyine, du Palika. Pourtant, les échéances essentielles de 2014 approchent. « Que ce soit Paul, Kotra (Uregei), ou Charly à l’époque… nous sommes, de toute façon, sur le même projet », note Daniel Goa. « Nous sommes dans la même démarche, on est indépendantistes. » Les engueulades servent à clarifier les positions, ont coutume de dire les militants. Pour le nouveau président de l’UC, « quand il faut aller sur l’essentiel, on se retrouve ». Une motion spéciale « 2014 », adoptée hier, précise d’ailleurs la stratégie : instaurer un bloc « nationaliste » pour devenir majoritaire au Congrès.

Contrôle. L’action ne va pas tarder. L’experte Anne Duthilleul animera, mercredi à Nouméa, l’ultime réunion du Comité stratégique industriel sur l’avenir du nickel. Et l’Union calédonienne compte bien hausser le ton durant la rencontre car le mouvement n’est « pas d’accord avec le projet Duthilleul, mais nous aurons des propositions ». Ces suggestions seront tout d’abord partagées avec les représentants des composantes du FLNKS, et ensuite avec les partenaires de l’accord de Nouméa, avant discussion avec les opérateurs miniers. Le but dessiné par l’UC : maîtriser la ressource, donner une dimension « pays » au nickel. Une illustration avait été fournie par Neko Hnepeune lors du discours d’ouverture du Congrès, avec l’ambition de prendre le contrôle de la SLN à travers une montée de la STCPI dans le capital. L’intention vise aussi la SMSP et son ouverture voulue aux trois provinces. Daniel Goa ne s’est certainement pas trompé en prédisant « une période à venir compliquée ».

Le chiffre

5

C’est le nombre de mesures trois motions et deux résolutions qui ont été arrêtées lors du congrès. Au menu, politique générale, jeunesse, ou encore économie avec la mine.

n Repères
Victoire d’un discret

Son ombre est partout, dans chaque rendez-vous de l’Union calédonienne. A 59 ans, Daniel Goa a une longue vie au sein du parti, le plus vieux sur l’échiquier politique calédonien. Son adhésion remonte à… « depuis toujours », souffle l’homme originaire de la tribu de Caavatch, à Hienghène. En fait, en 1973, un pas était fait vers les « Foulards rouges » avec Nidoïsh Naisseline. Le premier engagement.

Après un long séjour en France de 1975 à 1988, notamment pour les études, Daniel Goa entre à la Cafat. Puis la province Nord l’appelle. L’objet ? Venir y travailler en tant que chargé de mission aux côtés de Bernard Lepeu et Léopold Jorédié pour qui d’ailleurs le futur président de l’UC deviendra directeur de cabinet. Ces expériences le feront connaître aux yeux de tous dans les institutions.

« Ce grand planteur d’ignames », selon le 2e vice-président du mouvement, siège actuellement à la fois à la province Nord et au Congrès, dans les rangs UC-FLNKS. Une personnalité discrète et appréciée des militants. La preuve.

 

Le bureau 2013

Président : Daniel Goa

1er vice-président : Neko Hnepeune

2e vice-président : Gilbert Tuyienon

Commissaire général : Gaston Poiroi

Commissaire général adjoint : Christian Tein

Secrétaire général : Gérard Reignier

1er secrétaire général adjoint : Damien Yeiwene

2e secrétaire général adjoint : Julien Boanemoi

Yann Mainguet

http://www.lnc.nc/article/pays/daniel-goa-aux-manettes

8)’Yellow card’ for Fiji

Nasik Swami
Monday, November 19, 2012

A FIJI delegation has expressed its disappointment at a warning issued by the European Commission that not enough has been done to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

This was raised at the Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association (PITIA) annual general meeting in New Zealand.

The EC warned eight developing countries, including Fiji, on Thursday, of sanctions if nothing was not done to stop illegal fishing.

The European Maritime commissioner Maria Damanaki said the warning was not a blacklist but a yellow card.

“We want these countries as partners but we also want to signal to the world that the EU will not tolerate illegal fishing — a criminal activity which undermines the livelihood of fishing communities and depletes fish stocks,” Ms Damanaki said.

However, PITIA said it fully supported Fiji’s concerns given the actions and the processes in place in the country.

“Fiji has a very strict compliance system in place, and are in the process of strengthening their MCS tools through the application of an Offshore Decree to control activities of flag state vessels on the high seas,” PITIA said in a statement.

It said Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries and Forestry applied 100 per cent inspection on all vessels landing into Fiji.

The PITIA said the Fisheries and Forestry Ministry sent two submissions to the EU on steps being taken and was now in the process of revising its national plans to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=217596

9)BSP reduces loan rates

Timoci Vula
Monday, November 19, 2012

FROM today, new home buyers with Bank of the South Pacific’s financing should benefit from an improved easy home loan package.

The bank announced the reduction last Friday to its fixed home loan interest rate again to demonstrate its long standing commitment to the people of Fiji.

A statement said customers would enjoy Fiji’s lowest fixed home loan interest rate of 3.95 per cent for six months, a one-year fixed interest rate of 4.5 per cent, two-year fixed interest rate of 5.45 per cent and a variable interest rate of 6.25 per cent.

It said customers would receive a three-month waiver on house and content insurance premiums.

“Our customers stand to gain from this improvement in the home loan package,” said BSP country manager Kevin McCarthy. “BSP has established itself as a versatile institution continually looking to improve all our products and rates for the benefit of our customers.”

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=217606

10)Music festival target tourists

Tevita Vuibau
Monday, November 19, 2012

THE Jim Beam Uprising Beach Resort Festival of Music,Dance and Lights was hailed a success with hopes high that it will bring more tourists to the area.

Organisers of the festival, Pacific Coast Events and Promotions said they were looking to once again make Pacific Harbour a hub for tourists through the festival.

“A few years ago we had six or seven resorts within a three kilometre radius but some closed down and were taken over by new management but we are hoping that tourists and locals will start coming back with this,” Pacific Coast Events and Promotions owner Darlene Underwood said.

She said the event cost $30,000 to stage with half of the costs covered by major sponsors, Jim Beam.

“In the past years that we have been holding the festival, we”ve had bus loads of tourists come down,” she said.

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=21760

11)Medicare rebates don’t keep up with inflation and families struggle with medical bills

FAMILIES are being forced to sell their homes or raid their superannuation to pay medical bills, with some going bankrupt as Medicare rebates fail to keep pace with inflation and health funds fail to cover all medical charges.

The financial nightmare has exposed the growing inadequacy of Medicare and health fund rebates and the crippling health costs to those with multiple or serious illnesses.

Are you unable to afford treatment? Tell us your story in the comments below

Battling breast cancer, chemotherapy and a life-threatening infection, Leonie Havnen’s biggest challenge was not her health but the $31,300 in medical bills not covered by Medicare.

This year the 52-year-old Sydney mother of two was forced to raid her superannuation nest egg to cover her treatment costs.

“As a taxpayer for the past 36 years who pays around $30,000.00 a year in tax, $2,500 health insurance and the Medicare levy, to have to pay out of pocket for life saving medical treatment, just screams to me the ‘the system is broken’,” she said.

“Why did I have to access my superannuation to pay for my life saving medical treatment  we aren’t a third world country.”

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago Ms Havnen has had surgery six times, first to remove both breasts and then to deal with the consequences of a golden staph infection. She spent time in hospital when one of her kidneys collapsed. A statement from her health fund for the 2011-2012 financial year shows her private hospital treatment cost $77,732 and she received rebates of just $59,400 from Medicare and her health fund  leaving her $18,331 out of pocket.

On top of these hospital expenses, Ms Havnen had another $12,000 in bills for specialist appointments, scans, health fund excess payment, and medication.

Her health fund reviewed her case after being contacted by The Sunday Telegraph and have since refunded her a further $6000.

While our Medicare and health fund systems are praised as among the best in the world, there is emerging evidence they are leaving hundreds of thousands of Australians in poverty.

A Menzies Centre for Health Policy study has found 250,000 Australians spend more than 20 per cent of their income on health costs. Doctors and anaesthetists who charge large out-of-pocket gap fees, poor health insurance cover, Medicare rebates that haven’t kept pace with inflation and the $35.40 copayment for medicines are at fault. As well, many treatments and medicines are not covered by either subsidy schemes.

A recent Health Consumers NSW survey has found families were being forced to sell their homes or skip doctors’ appointments or medicines because of the cost.

“Due to the combination of suddenly not being able to work, and the high out of pocket costs of my illness, we had to sell our family home,” one respondent told the survey.

“Have not attended a cardiologist since February 2011. Cannot afford to,” another said.

The government’s Private Health Insurance Administration Council said health fund members paid $4.3 billion in out of pocket expenses last financial year.

Research by the George Institute found 11 per cent or 28, 665 bankruptcies in 2009 cited ill health or absence of health insurance as the primary reason.

A recent survey of 3000 National Seniors members found one in five Australians aged 50 to 64 are skipping doses of their prescription medicines because of cost.

Gaps fees for plastic and reconstructive surgeons averaged $1588, for orthopaedic surgery $1485, the gap for scans averaged $88 and for specialists $56.

A spokesman for Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said gaps came about when doctors charged more than the scheduled fee.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures show Australians spend an average $1075 a year in out-of-pocket health expenses.

“The issue is whilst we say we have a universal system, the reality is many people are struggling,” Consumers Health Forum chief Carol Bennett said. “The cumulative costs of a chronic illness mean you have multiple scripts and scans and appointments and you’ve got to make the difficult choice of whether you see your doctor or put food on the table.”

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$500 a month to ease pain

MULTIPLE sclerosis sufferer Robert Pask lives in a world of constant pain. Like many ravaged by the debilitating disease, he requires daily medication to get through.

But it comes at a cost.

He spends $519 a month on his own care, highlighting the failure of the health system to subsidise vital treatments for the chronically ill.

His plight backs research by academic Beverley Essue and Health Consumers NSW that shows patients are being forced to choose between their medication or food to make ends meet. Others rely on handouts from their relatives.

Even though we have a taxpayer-subsidised Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Mr Pask’s experience shows many patients still fall through the cracks.

Mr Pask spends $120 a month on anticonvulsant medication gabapentin to control pain; botox injections to stop muscle spasms to relieve pain cost $500 every three to six months; sleep relaxants are $38 a month; and vitamins his doctor recommends, including cranberry tablets, vitamin C, vitamin D and calcium add another $40-$50.To top it off, his health insurance costs $362 a month.

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I had to move back in with mum

YVONNE Appleby had to borrow $600 from her pensioner mum to pay for an MRI scan to test whether she had a brain tumour.

The single mum from Sydney has spent more than $4000 in out-of-pocket medical expenses in the past four years as she battles a range of illnesses, including diabetes and glaucoma.

In one week in 2008, Ms Appleby, who works six days a week as a receptionist, had to find $625 to pay for an MRI – not covered by Medicare – $250 to see an ophthalmologist and $422 for an ear nose and throat specialist.

Six months later she paid $90 to the ophthalmologist and $320 for an endocrinologist.

“Some was refunded by Medicare, but you have to have the money (or credit card) to pay the bill in the first place,” she said. “It’s very difficult when I had fixed weekly expenses, like rent, food, petrol.”

Ms Appleby who had two breast lumps removed in July, said her car was a “bomb” and because she didn’t qualify for a health care card she had to spend $30 a month on her diabetes and blood pressure medication.

Ms Appleby has since moved to live with her mother.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/medicare-rebates-dont-keep-up-with-inflation-and-families-struggle-with-medical-bills/story-fndo317g-122651880547

12)Jaguar, Land Rover to be built in China

Updated: 06:15, Monday November 19, 2012

A new joint venture will for the first time see Jaguars and Land Rovers built in China.

The British luxury car company said on Sunday that a deal has been made with the Chery Automobile Company to build the cars at a new factory to be built near Shanghai.

The company says it is a STG1 billion ($A1.55 billion) joint venture.

The factory will also produce joint-branded cars targeting the Chinese market.

The company says the Chinese government has approved the new partnership.

The new manufacturing plant is likely to be completed by 2014.

Jaguar and Land Rover sales have been growing quickly in China in recent years.

13)Souths future to be clearer today

Updated: 05:23, Monday November 19, 2012

South Sydney rugby league club will hold a press conference today following the news that actor Russell Crowe wants to sell his share of the NRL outfit at the end of next year.

Crowe and partner Peter Holmes a Court have held control since 2006, having four seats on the seven-member board.

75 per cent of members voted in favour of their $3 million takeover.

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