Oz Tax $ v Malaysian

There is a National Medicines Policy Document. The aim of the policy is to improve positive health outcomes for all Australians through their access to and use of medicines. It has four objectives – timely access and affordable, appropriate quality, safety and efficacy, quality use and maintenance of a responsible and viable industry.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Therapeutic Goods Administration and National Strategy for Quality Use of Medicines are frameworks which facilitates the fleshing out of these objectives.

I came across this policy document while working on a file concerning a regional (Victorian) support group for health practitioners. They were working with me on state revenue compliance issues and I was seeking to understand the context of their set up. The extent and details of frameworks put in place as a result of Commonwealth and State government initiatives which support delivery of health services was a very pleasant surprise for yours truly. I could go on for weeks looking up the scores of websites, policy documents, program write ups, reports, findings etc – all serious work done to better the health and delivery of healthcare services.

Just a few days ago we had a few families over for dinner and we were talking about paying taxes and where our tax dollars went. Barry one of my mates said he could see our tax dollars in the remote road networks out in the country area. I mentioned how I didn’t mind paying higher taxes in this country precisely because we could, to a large extent, see delivery of services.

In Malaysia, our taxes went largely to things like religious causes – huge and expensive mosques, salaries of Imam’s and Islamic clergies, Quran reading events and worst of all, our tax dollars often find their way into corrupt politicians’ retirement funds. Frustrated Malaysians often use throwaway lines like “Samy Vellu has a few billion dollars stashed away” and the common belief is that politicians over the years have stolen tens of billions of dollars from public purses – our tax dollars. There are commentators who suggest as much as USD300 billion have been squandered – with no doubt a big slice going into politicians’ pockets – over the years as a result of mismanagement and leakages in the Malaysian economy.

I wonder if there is a Malaysian equivalent of the National Medicines Policy and the extent of work done to flesh out the policy and give it the tools and resources to work.

We may spend our free time bemoaning our Aussie politicians but actually they have – by and large – done good work. It is at least much better work than the rubbish dished out by the Malaysian counterparts. There is a much weaker case of not seeing our tax dollars work better for us here.


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