Scullion announces bonanza for Menzies

p2373-nigel-scullion-okCOMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The Turnbull Government will spend $12m to save children’s lives and help close the gap in Indigenous health, NT Senator Nigel Scullion (pictured) trumpeted this morning.

 

The grant will “focus on child health and chronic disease [and] will help address significant challenges in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities,” he said.

 

“This demonstrates how the Coalition Government works closely with important Territory institutions to deliver better outcomes for Territorians.”

 

In fact not a cent of this will go to encouraging parents to give their children good food and keep them clean (very basic tasks), or to keep their houses and communities clean (another basic task), or pointing out to the parents that these are legal obligations they have, namely providing the necessities of life for their offspring.

 

The reality is that every cent of this “more than $12m” will go to Darwin’s Menzies School of Medical Research, no doubt adding to the billions of words written about people frequently regarded as the most studied race in the world.

 

Researching – not fixing – the problems is what the money will be spent on:-

 

• Preventing early-onset pneumonia in Indigenous infants through maternal immunisation: a multi-centre randomised controlled trial ($3.2m).

 

• Vitamin D supplementation to prevent respiratory infections among Indigenous children in the Northern Territory: a randomised controlled trial ($3.1m).

 

• Early life and contemporary influences on body composition, mental health, and chronic disease risk markers in the Aboriginal Birth Cohort ($3.1m).

 

• Prophylactic antibiotics to prevent recurrent lower respiratory tract infections in children with neurological impairment study ($1.2m).

 

• Healthy Stores 2020: Reducing retail merchandising of discretionary food and beverages in remote Indigenous community stores ($900,000).

 

• Diabetes and cardiovascular risk among Indigenous women after pregnancy complicated by hyperglycaemia ($126,000).

 

• A prospective study of the aetiology, associations, clinical features and outcomes of community-acquired pneumonia in children and adults in tropical Australia ($126,000).

 

• Vaccine and antibiotic selective pressures on the microbiology of otitis media in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in northern Australia ($87,000).

 

• 2017 Equipment Grant ($84,000).

 

 

We sent this comment as a draft to Menzies at 11:42am with the question: “Do you regard this comment  as reasonable or unreasonable, and please give me your reasons for your view.”

 

At 12:23pm Menzies replied: Please find attached our media release regarding Senator Scullion and Minister Wyatt’s media release. I can check if our director Alan Cass is available for interview to discuss the funding.

 

At 12:39 we emailed back: I based my comment in part on your [Menzies] release.

It seems to me that there are people on the ground already who could (quoting from your release) “address fundamentally important health issues including maternal immunisation to improve child health”. This of course is providing the mothers will avail themselves of this. If they dont, what difference would Menzies make?
 
take it you are saying that “identifying key stages from early childhood throughout life when treatments to prevent chronic disease will be most effective is not something that has been done before in a variety of locations around the world. Please confirm.
 
would be grateful for a talk with Professor Cass or else he is welcome to reply by email.
 
I would also ask him his view of where in terms of the overall importance, the research [detailed in our comment piece] is ranking, and the reasons for his view.

 

We have heard nothing further from Menzies.

 

 

UPDATE Nov 13

 

Professor Cass has made himself available for an interview at 10:30am on Thursday.

 

 

 

 

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10 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. John
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 9:26 am

    The more Scullion wastes public money, the more he thinks the people actually think he is doing something – ohhhh how wrong Nigel, how wrong. Maybe put the money to better use where it will actually do some good like employing people to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities in showing them how to look after a house and what’s excepted of you within your community and maybe you will be remembered! Just another government official bla bla bla …

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  2. Fred the Philistine
    Posted November 12, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    More wasted money, just like Batchelor Institute. Very little will be achieved. You can look around Alice Springs and see all medical facilities available to the Indigenous, with still no results. They have very poor hygiene standards. May be that is where we start. Can someone please explain to me what Scullion has actually achieved, apart from throwing money into a black hole with no results?

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  3. Testing on Aboriginal people
    Posted November 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Just like the Intervention. More testing on Aboriginal people.
    Who will own the intellectual property of this research?
    Should have spent the money on constitutional change that restores a bit of hope.

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  4. Paul Parker
    Posted November 11, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Re: Prevention-better than cure Posted November 10, 2017 at 4:56pm:-
    Such logic supports amputating a leg because a toe is sore.
    Most persons on Centrelink do manage themselves on their limited budgets, albeit with difficulty.
    Restricting their capability is unlikely to improve things.
    The problem remains government focus on racist tag games.
    Without racial filters everyone can concentrate on actual problems, not grossly over-rated racist symptoms.

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  5. 15Million
    Posted November 11, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    What a complete and utter disappointment Scullion has been for the Territory.
    Time to go Nigel.
    You have failed the NT. You have failed Aboriginal people. You have failed everyone you are supposed to represent.
    Don’t bother holding on until the next election.
    Can anyone even name three solid things this guy has done for the Territory?

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  6. Mick
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    Millions, billions, brazillians. What more can I say? Just more good money after bad. You can’t help people who don’t want to be helped. You talk about cleanliness? It’s all too sad and hopeless. I for one have washed my hands of the whole lot.

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  7. Posted November 10, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    You’re on the money, Erwin! Regrettably the funding for these research programs, of which variations have been ongoing for decades, is not translating into practical improvements for the supposedly intended beneficiaries – indigenous people – that we would expect.
    The research institutes, such as Menzies School of Medical Research, and some health agencies appear not to provide a means to an end but to have become an end for themselves. The bureaucracy has become what it’s all about, and does not provide solutions for the problems that provide justification for their existence.
    The long-suffering taxpayer is not getting value for money, and those we elect to represent us are not providing the “good government” the Australian Constitution demands of them.

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  8. Dr Who
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    How many more studies? Anyone who takes an interest over the years knows the answers, might as well get the $12 million in cash and throw it into the wind from the top of Uluru. Talk about Dumb and Dumber. I’m really starting to not care any more as I get older. Go for it and waste as much as you can to look good, even that’s wearing a bit thin.

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  9. Michael Dean
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    I remember President Nixon referring to the White House writing reams of nothing.
    All the taxpayers money seems to get spent on endless reports and little on the people that need it.

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  10. Prevention-better than cure
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    All welfare payments via a welfare card for food only. Prevent / reduce health problems and expenses before they begin. Then do a study after five years.

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