Healthcare

Coronaveristy Cash Crunch will lead to cost-cutting

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Almost 1 million foreign students attend Australian educational institutions.  Of that 28% are from China according to the Dept of Education.

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New commencements are at half a million. These are not small numbers. We are already seeing universities start to fret over the economic impacts.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that in 2017–18, international education was worth $32.4 billion to the Australian economy, up from $18.9 billion in 2008–09.

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In fees alone, foreign students have forked over $7.4bn in the 2017/18 year from $2.9bn in 2008/09.

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As a % of total university fees, foreign students now represent over 23% from  15.5% in 2008/09.

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By university, we can see where foreign students are most concentrated. Victoria holds 5 of the top 10 destinations for foreign students.

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By number, Victorian universities hold the top 3 places for absolute foreign student numbers, and 31% of the national total. NSW has 25% of all foreign students inside Australia.

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Things will undoubtedly settle down. It is unlikely all of these students will pull the plug and not turn up at Australian universities when Coronavirus issues eventually come under control. As far as attrition rates go in Australia, local kids are far more likely to drop out than overseas students.

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We are already seeing some universities announce they are tightening the purse strings until the situation normalises.

An interesting side topic is a fall-off in permanent residency visas offered by the Dept of Home Affairs to foreign students that graduate in Australian universities. The decadal low numbers don’t seem to have affected foreign student interest.

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Graduate visas have picked up sharply. It will be fascinating to see the post-Coronavirus trends of visas from the DHA.

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Ultimately, Australian schools have been living high off the hog. While the trend of international students has been robust, have any of these schools conducted proper contingency planning if a global recession, pandemic or shock was to ensue?

After 28 years of uninterrupted economic growth, something suggests that most universities have not seriously considered what might happen if the well dried up. Sadly, when such an action plan should have been in place, we will probably see knee jerk cost-cutting in all the wrong places. So much for the educators preparing their customers for the future…

CNN complains about lack of diversity on Coronavirus team

Only CNN could find outrage in the team looking to combat the Coronavirus. Apparently diversity is more important than ability in a crisis.

CNN political writer Brandon Tensley quipped,

Who are these experts?…They’re largely the same sorts of white men (and a couple women on the sidelines) who’ve dominated the Trump administration from the very beginning...[comparing it to Obama’s handling of the Ebola virus in 2014] Neither was it so abysmal in terms of gender diversity. (Of course, to contextualize, Obama’s administration, on the whole, was far more diverse than Trump’s.).”

Commentator Dave Rubin retorted,

Sir, I’ve discovered the cure to the Coronovirius! We can create an intitiode and spread it worldwide within 12 hours.”

“Bob, we’ve told you repeatedly if you aren’t a non-binary latinx disabled lesbian you’re not allowed to talk.

Welcome to 2020. Where finding a cure ASAP takes a backseat to diversity. Liberal logic.

One imagines that the Chinese authorities have a similar lack of diversity on their team to combat the Coronavirus.

Woke Wyong Hospital turns down $14.8m donation

Ideology wins again. Citizens lose. The board of Wyong Hospital will call it principle to turn down a $14.8m donation because it was offered by a coal company. Indeed they argued it was like “taking money from a tobacco company.”

By that logic they should hand back all of the medical devices, machines, surgical instruments, beds and syringes that are all derived and solely dependent on fossil fuels with the added probability they are manufactured with the help of sustainable coal-fired power.

Did the board turn down pharmaceutical company and medical device maker perks or donations, despite the outrageous cost of drugs or machines?

Forget the long waiting queues, nurse shortages and a toddler sent home with an undiagnosed broken neck. Wyong Hospital believes it knows better than patients who just want to be treated ASAP. What does the board make its assessment on – facts or ideology? Because if it is the latter, the board should be reprimanded for a lack of due diligence and governance.

At what point will the board recognize that China has 300-500 new coal fired power plants on the drawing board over the next decade? There is demand for the black mineral. If it isn’t our coal, it will be someone else’s. Why shut down a $70bn coal export industry and seek to create unemployment. Don’t start with the green jobs nonsense. The ABS records less than 18,000 jobs (at its peak) are in “renewables”. Mining, much of it coal, employs around 220,000 people.

So even if the coal company wants to be a good corporate citizen, the hospital believes that letting patients suffer through longer wait times thanks to nurse shortages is a better outcome for the community than a coal mine that has government approval and operates as a legal entity. Had the hospital ever seen the environmental red tape that needed to be passed to get approval they might learn how clean the mine has been forced to be.

Is the hospital board merely worried about having a bunch of unemployed protestors shame it publicly?

We are sure that any patients with a loved one in pain would happily give trade woke green ideology for the generosity of a coal mine to assist in getting a quicker diagnosis.

When are companies going to grow a spine and push back? It is as pathetic as Greyhound Australia backing down on transporting construction workers to the Adani mine on the machinations of a bunch of self entitled school kids wagging class to boycott it. Wake up Australia.

How to clean up in the adult diaper boom

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Zerohedge is reporting on the large market scope for adult diapers.  One-fifth of the world’s population will be of retirement age by 2070. The beauty for the diaper manufacturers is that adult diapers have 4x the margins of infant diapers despite exactly the same ingredients and production techniques. Asia is ageing fast, especially China and Japan. Incontinence affects 40% of people over 65yo so the market dynamics have rock solid foundations, even if wearers don’t.

Unicharm and P&G are two monsters in the diaper game. But who makes the equipment that makes them?

In a former life as an equity analyst, CM covered a business called Zuiko Corp (6279 JP) which made the machines that make the diapers. It is a captive business. All machines are built to spec. 50 metres long and weighing 20 tonnes. 850 diapers per minute.

The company has the largest share of the market in Asia. It used to be around 80% when CM covered the company and supply chains are very sticky. Zuiko is owned c.10% by Unicharm in Japan.

Zuiko has had quite patchy performance, despite the wonderful structural backdrop. Private equity must look to a buyout. The company has pretty poor investor relations and shareholder communications. The shares are in the dumps, at 7-year lows. It is quite hard to find a business that has such favourable, defensive growth characteristics which is in need of proper leadership.

Zuiko has effectively no debt, ¥10bn  (c. US$90million) in cash which represents around 48% of its market cap. Looks like one for the SMSF.

Presumably…

…misandristic slogans will be OK in the People’s Democratic Republic of Victoria.

The bigger question is who will be the arbiter of what is deemed inappropriate or not? We can absolutely bet the farm that the people selected to enforce this being the least qualified in being able to administer it fairly.

No one should have an issue with holding appropriate standards for slogans on vehicles (e.g. no profanity/nudity) but is there a pressing need to have apparatchiks pushing agendas on what they deem appropriate for the rest of us? How many vehicles fall foul of these crimes?

One can be certain that if a car is adorned with slogans that crudely vilify white heterosexual Christian males it won’t be deregistered. Perhaps Victoria should change its number plate slogan to “Victoria – the re-education state.

Perhaps Victorian Premier Dan Andrews should spend more time reflecting on his injecting room policy where the CEO of the centre has been stood down after some staffers were caught dealing drugs to the addicts that use the facilities. Who’d a thunk?

RACGP alarmism should be driving the AMA not climate

AMA.pngThe Royal Australian College of General Practitioners logo

Now it all makes sense. The Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) latest push on climate change doesn’t appear to be about saving the planet but looking to safeguard its own survival. AMA’s main rival association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) seems to be on the right prescription medication as far as membership growth and revenue goes. 

The AMA’s climate push seems to be a concerted effort to lock in future revenues by appealing to students. AMA ‘Associate Medical Student Members‘ have ballooned in the last two years from 8,664 to 15,311 to offset the (pardon the pun) flatline in regular members which have hovered a shade under 30,000 members since 2016. Previous AMA annual reports (AR) make no mention of hard membership numbers. The 2015 AR made reference to 30,000+ members which suggest it wasn’t 31,000+. Students, who now represent over 1/3rd of members, can join for free. Undoubtedly the strategy lies in the hope those students roll over to become fully paid members when they start to practice.

Last year, Dr Bill Coote, former Secretary-General of the AMA (1992-98) wrote in Medical Republic,

In 1962, more than 95% of doctors belonged to the AMA. By 1987 it was 50%. AHPRA reports that in 2016 there were 107,179 registered medical practitioners. The 2016 AMA annual report notes a membership of 29,425. That is 27% of doctors.

Since 2012, AMA annual membership collections have shown relatively anaemic growth from around $11m in 2012 to $12.4m in 2018 from its 29,659 full paying members. Revenues have shown similarly slow growth. Revenues (ex any asset sales) have grown from $20.29m in 2012 to $22.35m in 2018. 10% growth over 6 years.

What of the RACGP?

The RACGP has 35,385 full members and 5,493 student members. Moreover, the group collected $34.6m in membership fees in 2018, near as makes no difference three times the AMA.

Isn’t this just a classic case of customers appreciating what they pay for? Will those AMA student members work out – when forced to shell out hard dollars on membership – as they embark on their medical career that the RACGP is the go-to organisation? Any manner of conference cocktail parties will undoubtedly whisper the realities of membership benefits of both organisations. Surely the more seasoned doctors will make their preferences known. After all, students are more likely to pin their formative years to guru practitioners in the profession rather than lean on the musings of an association that provides cheaper hire car tariffs and frequent flyer club perks.

Revenues for the RACGP have more than doubled from $38.6m in 2012 to $83.1m in 2018.

Maybe Dr. Coote has found the problem when he wrote, ”

AMA members’ fees fund the Medical Journal of Australia. The MJA is uniquely positioned to promote serious commentary on the policy, regulatory and economic changes reshaping Australian medical practice, but now seems to prioritise the interests of academic doctors...The decline in AMA membership penetration from 95% to 50% to 27% of doctors is a significant historical trend.  A US management guru once suggested, organisations are at risk if they respond to a changing environment by redoubling their efforts to do things the way they have always done them…Let’s hope the AMA does not become the Kodak of Australian medical history.”

Climate change might seem to be a woke avenue to do things differently at the AMA, but surely it stands to learn a lot more by studying why the RACGP is surgically keeping it in the ICU rather than pursue fields it has no expertise in an attempt to revive itself. If the AMA board pursues such amputated strategies it is bound to find itself running out of bandages before its members realise that cauterizing membership cash flow is the only viable long term option.