Joe Hockey raises prospect of Australians living until 150 to justify budget cuts

Treasurer Joe Hockey flagged the prospect of Australians living until the age of 150 during a defence of the government’s budget cuts. Photo: Kate GeraghtyYes, we’re living longer – get over itBackbench revolt triggered GP back downHockey’s ‘Sarah Palin moment’: ShortenAnalysis: New year brings a new approach
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Treasurer Joe Hockey has raised the prospect of people living until 150 to explain why Australians should accept cuts to government benefits and pay a greater share of their health costs.

Mr Hockey also refused to deny reports that he and former health minister Peter Dutton opposed a $20 cut to Medicare rebates for short consultations in a meeting of cabinet’s powerful Expenditure Review Committee. The government abandoned the planned cut, which was due to take effect on Monday, after a revolt by doctors and Senate crossbenchers.

“I’m not going to engage in a discussion on gossip,” Mr Hockey said on Monday in an interview with 3AW’s Neil Mitchell when asked about the leak.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott reportedly insisted on the rebate cut – aimed to save money and discourage “six minute medicine” – despite the senior ministers’ protests.

Mr Hockey said he supported the decision to abandon the $20 rebate cut, but that the cost of Medicare needed to be kept under control.

The Treasurer said his five-year old son had broken his foot over the Christmas break. Although his son attended multiple consultations and X-rays, Mr Hockey only had to contribute $40 to pay for a waterproof cast.

“That is wrong,” Mr Hockey said, noting he is a high income earner who could afford to contribute more.

The government still plans to introduce a $5 optional co-payment for GP visits.

“There’s great news on the horizon for Australia,” Mr Hockey said. “The fact we are living longer is great news. It’s kind of remarkable that somewhere in the world today, it’s highly probable that a child is being born that is going to live to 150. That’s a long time.

“The question is how we live with dignity and ensure we have a good quality of life the whole way through. This is the conversation we are going to have with Australia over the next few months.”

The government will release the latest Intergenerational Report early this year, which is expected to show that the ageing population will make it difficult for the government to pay for the services Australians have come to expect.

Some researchers have said that drugs that can slow the ageing process are likely to become available within 10 years, raising the prospect of people eventually living to 150 or more.

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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VTAC uni offers lockdown in tatters as students hack in

Victorian students found a way to check their university offers early. Photo: Louie DouvisStudent hackers have forced the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre website to lift its information embargo on first round offers.
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The site was supposed to open for students at 2pm on Monday, but hundreds who could not wait began hacking in to get their results from Sunday using instructions posted on Facebook and chat forums.

VTAC has said it would review its traditional “lockdown” after the breach was discovered.

A group called VCE Discussion Space posted instructions on getting into the offers site on its Facebook page. These then spread to another forum, ATAR Notes, a group about the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank, the system used to compare students who have completed different combinations of Year 12 courses.

“Hey guys, the following is from VCEDiscussionSpace on FB – you can check your first round offers now. I guarantee it works, just follow the steps below,” the ATAR Notes site said.

A VTAC spokeswoman, Suzanne Connelly, played down the hacking saying:

“Offers were released at midnight last night via email and people have done some sophisticated URL work and been able to access their offer again on the website, to confirm it.”

Ms Connelly said some students might not have received an email, adding this could be because it was held up by their internet provider, that the email was in a queue to be sent or some students had not received an offer.

She said students were able to access only their own results and had used a URL provided to them by VTAC. Emails were released progressively from midnight, a further statement said.

“The exposure was limited to an applicant being able to retrieve their own offer prior to the published release time,” the statement said.

“At this stage because applicants could only access their own user account VTAC don’t consider it as a hack and will be reviewing the historical 2pm lockdown for next year.”

Fairfax Media has contacted five VCE students, none of whom have received the VTAC email, but all were aware of the opportunity to hack in and get their first round offer.

Elsa Bramwell, of Sale, said she had not received her email but discovered at 10pm on Sunday she had got into nutrition science at Monash University.

“It was really easy, lots of my friends did it,” Ms Bramwell said.

“I just followed the steps.”

She said she just had to put in her user name and password and in a couple of clicks had her results.

Ms Bramwell said the early information had allowed her to plan to attend the enrolment day later this week.

Natasha Bell, of Bundoora, said she hacked in to discover her offer at 2am after seeing her friends had used the instructions successfully through social media.

“I thought why not find out and I accessed the website,” Ms Bell said.

A VTAC email was delivered to her inbox at 6.30am on Monday, but she did not realise it was there until contacted by Fairfax Media at 10.45am. It confirmed she was offered a place studying heath science at RMIT.

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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