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Little fox, big problem

Is this the end of Medicare?

Flirting with disaster

In some parts of the city, there are as many as 20 foxes per square kilometre. Are they friend or foe?

IN Melbourne, even foxes like footy. Or, rather, they like football grounds. Last year, the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology used GPS technology to track foxes from Melbourne’s outer east.

One pair lived at Lloyd Park, home of the Langwarrin Kanagroos, throughout the winter. The week after the grand final, the foxes moved on: there were no more sausage rolls to scavenge. “They were there on game days, within 50 metres of hundreds of people – and no one knew,” says the centre’s deputy director, Dr Rodney van der Ree.

A national institution, Medicare turns 40 this year. But are budgetary changes such as the doctor co-payment the beginning of the end for universal healthcare?

MEDICARE was always a shit-fight. It became law in the most extraordinary circumstances: one of a handful of bills passed during the only joint sitting of federal parliament in the nation’s history, after the double dissolution election in 1974.

As the Whitlam government prepared to introduce the system – then known as Medibank – its opponents rallied. The Australian Medical Association marshalled a million-dollar “Freedom Fund”, donated by members.

Big business is calling for increased spending on disaster prevention. But with climate change set to cause more fires, floods and heatwaves, are we doing enough?

AFTER the deadly summer of 2010-2011, executives at Insurance Australia Group made a decision. Floods had swept through the eastern states, killing more than two-dozen people and causing billions of dollars of damage. 

“We have a whole ‘natural perils’ department made up of scientists and engineers who constantly model risk,” says Mike Wilkins, IAG’s managing director. “But it’s bigger than us. We needed to be part of a coordinated national conversation.”