The Hon. Bob Baldwin MP is the Australian Member for Paterson and is the newly appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment... It is my honor to share this interview as Mr. Baldwin MP discusses his view on global warming and policy surrounding it, an Australian perspective on the American health care system, update on areas of Australian Defence and provides some life philosophies we should all consider.
Gabrielle Reilly: What is your position on global warming?
Hon. Bob Baldwin MP: Reducing the global level of CO2 and other emissions in the atmosphere is an issue of great concern and consequence to all of us. Personally, these are unchartered waters for me; on climate change, I am neither a sceptic nor a denier. I have read widely and talked to scientists, but I am not a scientist. Maybe climate change is cyclic? I do not know, because there are too many subjective opinions in this argument, each proffering a different expert perspective. What I do know is that the impact one individual can have on the planet, and collectively, is important when dealing with the environment. Actions by individual Australians or families to reduce emissions can have an impact; by including voluntary measures, the environment will also benefit from initiatives that are developed by individuals, business and community groups.
In Australia, the current Government is trying to hoodwink the Australian public, by pushing through a flawed emissions trading scheme, which will have no impact on global warming or cutting emissions, instead it will be a tax on business and a tax on the Australian public and diminish Australia's international competitiveness.
Gabrielle Reilly: What lessons do you think America could learn from Australia's healthcare system and what should it look out for?|
Hon. Bob Baldwin MP: Firstly I would like to congratulate on the Obama Administration's focus in reforming the US healthcare system. I believe that free universal access to healthcare is so important.
The Australian system is based on a completely different model than the current US system. Under the Australian system, each individual is entitled to basic medical care and medical costs for all hospital admittances are covered by the Australian Government (through Medicare). Those wanting private health insurance pay a premium for additional health services and to cover out of pocket expenses for the higher standards of care.
Medical prescriptions, in most instances, are subsidized by the government with the recipient paying an amount depending on their income.
In Australia, Medicare covers the majority of health care services and insurance companies (if you wish to have private health insurance) cover ancillary services such as dental, physio and optical. Because of budgetary restrictions though, the healthcare system will never be a perfect system or please everyone.
It is important to note that politicians and governments should not underestimate the need for healthcare. As our population ages, more and more pressure will be placed on our health care system and the amazing workers that are employed to look after us. The cost of health care will continue to increase; in particular as emerging technologies and medicines are introduced into the market.
Gabrielle Reilly: Australia is very cutting edge with technology and science as you well know. How is the government collaborating with industry to achieve the best in national defense in these areas?
Hon. Bob Baldwin MP: There are a many mechanisms designed to exploit the substantial technological momentum that can be generated when industry and government work together. These mechanisms include alliances, collaborative research projects and private-public partnerships; all of which are designed to share potential rewards and the burden of risk among project participants. Additionally, some of the benefits from government/Defence and industry research partnerships can extend beyond the Defence sphere and also benefit the private sector.
One such program is the Capability Technology Demonstrator Fund (CTDF), which begun in 1997 and remains ongoing to this day. Under the CTDF, government assists industry in developing emerging Defence technologies through the provision of financial support, and in exchange government has early access to those technologies that prove to be successful and may help to enhance Defence capabilities.
Gabrielle Reilly: What has been some of the most dramatic progress in defence science in the past decade?
Hon. Bob Baldwin MP: It is difficult to sum up the numerous advances that have been made over the past decade. However, it may be true to say that a lot of the progress has its roots in the incredible advancements that have been made in developing more powerful computing hardware and software.
Some of the readily identifiable or tangible outcomes from this development in computing power include more realistic flight and weapons simulators, increasingly sophisticated radar technologies and the development of unmanned systems. To my mind, we have seen a huge amount of progress in the development of complex unmanned systems and have witnessed the concept of automation take on a whole new meaning, particularly over the last few years.
And while the last decade has seen some amazing developments, the years ahead look to be equally exciting with further research and development of nanotechnologies, even more powerful computer processing capabilities and further research and development into areas such as hypersonics and stealth technologies.
Gabrielle Reilly: What piece of advice can you give our readers on leading a better life?
Hon. Bob Baldwin MP: One of the most central aspects to anyone's life is the importance of family. Through the years as a representative in public life, I have seen my children move from childhood through their teenage years to now young voting citizens of our country. I reflect that the time away from my children during these important years can never be replaced. Never take your family for granted, they are the backbone to who you are. Always ensure you have work-life balance to ensure both your personal life and your working life gets the best out of you.
I would also state that everyone, not only those in public life, can give back to the community. Whether it's helping an elderly neighbour, or volunteering at a local shelter, each act of kindness to a fellow human being makes the world we live in a better place.
As a representative, the sense of satisfaction I receive from helping those working in the community is immeasurable, which instills in my children the sense of community value. Politicians should never underestimate the importance of an issue to a person - they are usually the last point of call for people to turn to in times of trouble. For each individual the problem is immense - it is not for politicians to interpret the magnitude of the problem, the constituent has already determined that as they have brought the problem to you, it is our role to act on the issues that are important that we seek to represent.
Gabrielle Reilly: Most Australians wouldn't be aware of the Command General Staff College (CGSC) here in Fort Leavenworth 45 minutes from Kansas City. They host a program that brings in outstanding International Military Officers from about 90 countries around the world and they spend a year studying American culture, history, society, warfare etc. They become endeared to America once they understand it is not like the movies at all. If/when they go on to be leaders themselves, it is very important for global stability that they have a good understanding of Western society. Many of the former students have gone on to be leaders in their own countries (graduates include the current President of Indonesia and a former President of Pakistan). I sponsor an Officer and family each year and show them American life through dinners, holiday traditions etc. At the end of the year many of the Officers have good friends from countries all around the world. I hear the Generals tell story after story of saving conflicts by being able to get on the phone and talk to the people they had been through the CGSC with 15 odd years earlier. We just had a fabulous Australian Officer through. Does Australia have an equivalent type of program or is that something that could be considered?
Hon. Bob Baldwin MP: The Australian Defence Force runs a similar program through the Australian Command and Staff College (ACSC) located in Canberra. The ACSC caters for both junior and senior officers and accepts international officers in a manner comparable to colleges such as the CGSC.
The ACSC is highly respected, attracts well credentialed academic staff and has hosted overseas participants from a range of countries including the US, Canada, Britain, India, Pakistan and Indonesia. Like the CGSC program, international officers undertaking a course at the ACSC are ?sponsored' by local families during their stay in Canberra, and by all accounts the feedback from participants has been very positive.