Write on — letters to the editor

Health system in crisis

It came as a shock to me, and to some of my friends, about the way some of the hospitals refuse to admit patients for serious operations unless they pay at the time of arrival.

As recently as June 11, a friend of our family, who is receiving the age pension and had to wear a catheter for six weeks prior to a serious operation on his prostrate gland, rang the hospital and he was informed that he would not be admitted unless he paid $4370.

Our family friend has to wait another fortnight, suffering severe pain and discomfort, until he is able to obtain the hospital fees.

Most people would expect that a hospital would treat a seriously ill patient and when discharged, send the account. Most plumbers and electricians do this after they finish their work.

The federal and state governments should immediately introduce legislation to prevent hospitals from refusing to treat patients whose condition warrants immediate attention.

The time is long overdue for a complete change in the way we perceive and carry out our social and moral responsibilities to the aged and to all members of the community who cannot afford to pay for health services.

Medical, surgical, dental, optical and auditory services should be free for pensioners, the unemployed and all other members of the community who need them.

Bernie Rosen

Strathfield NSW [Abridged]

Australia biased towards Israel

Julia Gillard's trip to Israel will not serve Australia's national interest. In her recent interview on the ABC AM program, she said the aim of her visit was to strengthen Australia's relations with Israel, as if Australia is not biased enough to Israel, the occupying power.

What Australia is in need of is to strengthen its relations with the Palestinians, the occupied and oppressed, and the Arab countries.

Her visit to the occupied Palestinian territories and meetings with Palestinian officials is not aimed to similarly strengthen Australia's relations with Palestine, but is merely window-dressing.

Australia's biased policy has isolated Australia from the international community, where at the United Nations Australia sides with half a dozen countries against the rest of the world.

This has inflicted tremendous damage to Australia's image and national interest around the world.

Ms Gillard's visit will strengthen Australia's biased stand towards the occupying power, Israel.

Ali Kazak

former Palestinian ambassador to Australia

What priorities?

It has been a big week in the news with plenty of important stories.

Shockingly, the UN announced the number of the world's hungry has reached a new height. A billion people now live in hunger worldwide. Today one in six people don't have enough to eat — a rise from one in seven just a year ago.

A report from the Australian National Council of Drugs revealed that Indigenous Australian's are 13 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-indigenous people.

A new international report by the world's most pre-eminent climate scientists warned carbon pollution threatens to tip the planet towards runaway climate change, putting millions of lives at risk.

Yet, all these headline stories have been missing from the front pages and nightly news bulletins of the mainstream media. As a result, the government is under no pressure to act in response to these outrages.

Instead, we've been treated to 24 hour coverage of the "utegate" circus.

Its all too typical of Australia's corporate media. Unnecessary starvation, endemic racism and preventable climate chaos take second place to the barbarous, trivial, meaningless trash that parades as political journalism.

Simon Butler

Glebe NSW

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