Federal health minister avoids contempt of court charge and possible jail sentence after ‘full and unqualified apology’

The federal health minister Greg Hunt and two ministerial colleagues have avoided charges of contempt of court and possibly jail after apologising for comments about “weak” terrorism sentencing in Victoria. as the state’s appeals court increased the jail terms given to two would-be terrorists.

• The Victorian Court of Appeal ruled it would not proceed with contempt of court charges against Mr Hunt, human services minister Alan Tudge and assistant treasurer Michael Sukkar after it heard their apology.

• The three men did not appear in court, but Commonwealth Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue told the court each apologised “unreservedly” for their comments, published in The Australian newspaper.

“ “We offer that apology now,” Dr Donaghue told the court on behalf of the ministers.

“We never intended to influence the court. We intend to exercise great care in the future.”

The court had previously said the ministers had “failed to respect the doctrine of separation of powers” and “breached the principle of ˆsub judice”.

Fees paid by taxpayer

The court welcomed the “full and unqualified apology” but said it came after a “stern discussion” between the bench and Solicitor-General, and days of reflection.

“The delay is most regrettable and aggravated the contempt,” the court said.

The court said the situation should never have resulted in two court hearings.

Court speaks in strongest

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By | June 25th, 2017|Legal|


I’VE seen some self-promoters over the years, but one I noticed recently surely takes the cake – ‘the guru of red eye diagnosis and management’!



PERUSING a pile of online comments about various eye-care groups, I was surprised at several comments about optical prescriptions not being handed to patients/clients on request.

One told of the manager of the retailer concerned refusing to hand over the prescription on request, however a sympathetic staff member put the prescription onto a laptop monitor so it could be copied by hand by the patient during the manager’s lunch break.

What happened when the copy was later presented elsewhere for dispensing was not mentioned, but it probably wasn’t accepted as it wasn’t correctly drawn up by the prescriber.

The Medicare rules are clear enough: at the completion of an examination, an optical prescription must be handed to a patient on request. It doesn’t mean ‘automatically’ or anything like that.

So when someone is caught out refusing to hand over a prescription on request, explanations won’t carry much weight, if any, when he/she is brought before the Optometry Board of Australia or some other august body.

It’s simply not worth the risk!

By | June 25th, 2017|Comment|

IACLE awards winners

The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) presented awards to four winners at the British Contact Lens Association’s (BCLA) 40th Clinical Conference at Exhibition, which took place at the ACC in Liverpool on 9-11 June.

The IACLE Contact Lens Educator of the Year Awards recognise and reward achievements in contact lens education globally.

The winners from the United Stataes, Jordan and Korea each received a bursary of up to $US3000 towards the cost of attending a major international conference.

Professor Jan Bergmanson from the University of Houston won the Americas Contact Lens Educator of the Year 2017 award. Dr Yazan Gammoh from Amman Ahliyah University in Jordan received the Middle East Contact Lens Educator of the Year 2017 award, and Professor Koon-ja Lee from Eulji University in Korea received the Asia Pacific Contact Lens Educator of the Year 2017 award.

Kristina Mihić, from the University of Applied Sciences in Croatia was awarded the IACLE Travel Award 2017, which is a travel bursary for an IACLE educator member who would not otherwise be able to attend a major international conference.

The ceremony, which took place on the final day of the BCLA event “marked a successful participation of IACLE, its members and fellows this year,” the organisation said.

By | June 21st, 2017|Conference|

53% unaware smoking is dangerous to eyes

A recent survey by the Macular Society reports that 53% of people are unaware that smoking can cause blindness, Optometry Today in the United Kingdom reports

The national charity performed the survey ahead of Macular Week at the end of the month (26 June –2 July), which aims to raise public awareness about age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the largest cause of sight loss in the United Kingdom.

The Macular Society highlights smoking as the biggest “modifiable” risk factor in the development of AMD and reports that smokers are four times more likely to develop the condition when compared to non-smokers.

Explaining the cause and effect, the Macular Society detailed that tobacco smoke contains toxic chemicals that are “transported to the delicate tissues of the eye through the blood stream where they can damage the structure of the cells.”

Chief executive of the Macular Society, Cathy Yelf, said: “It is surprising how many people do not realise that smoking causes blindness. The message is often missing from anti-smoking messages, which simply concentrate on the life-threatening side effects of smoking. Sight loss, however, is a very important effect of smoking.”

Ms Yelf emphasised that smoking is incredibly bad for your eyes, adding: “You could be 20 or more times more likely to get macular disease

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By | June 21st, 2017|Health|

Specsavers UK concerned about drivers’ vision

Specsavers Corporate Eyecare has voiced concerns over driving vision standards at work following the publication of a consensus paper by the European Council of Optometry and Optics, Optician reports.

The United Kingdom was singled out for still using number-plate testing, not requiring a professional vision assessment and not retesting driver sight as standard. It is one of the five remaining countries where it is the job of the driving examiner to check vision rather than a health-care professional.

“With lax laws on the requirements for driver vision, the risks on the road increase and this can put employees and therefore also their employers at risk,” Specsavers Corporate Eyecare director of strategic alliances, Mr Jim Lythgow, said.

“While inconsistencies remain so great and the UK continues to trail behind the rest of the European Union, a low-cost blanket scheme covering all drivers is a sensible precaution to take.”

By | June 21st, 2017|Health|

Ulysses … on titles

Recently I came across a report on some good work performed in a remote area of Australia by a group of eye-care practitioners.

The report was comprehensive enough, but it was difficult to work out what one of those mentioned was an ophthalmologist or an optometrist, because he was just referred to as Dr Jack Spratt (not his real name) in the text.

So whether he was an ophthalmologist (i.e a medical practitioner permitted to use the ‘Dr’ title under the National Law) or an optometrist (permitted to use ‘Dr’ only if it’s followed by an explanatory description, probably ‘optometrist’ in this instance) isn’t clear.

Surely that requirement applies to text, as in this instance, as well as advertisements. ‘Dr’ is a title that has been the property of medical practitioners for aeons but for less than a decade been the property of optometrists, podiatrists, psychologists, Chinese medical practitioners and ten other groups (with explanatory descriptions required each time under the National Law). It’s really quite simple.

Some years ago, there was a brave move to come up with a suitable, brand-new title for optometrists, but that came to nothing as the suggestions were either laughable, corny or just plain awful.





By | June 21st, 2017|Comment|

Men neglecting eye health

Men are neglecting the health of their eyes to the detriment of their overall wellbeing, according to Optometry Australia.

During Men’s Health Week, 12-18 June, men’s health advocates encouraged men and their families to have meaningful conversations about the factors that keep them healthy in body and mind.

Optometry Australia is urging that eye health be part of that conversation.

Medicare statistics reveal that of the 8.67 million optometric services provided in 2016, women received around 57.6% of those services and men, 42.4%.

Men between the ages of 45 and 74 years of age utilised the least level of optometric services (around 1.84 million services) compared to those provided to women in the same age group (around 2.40 million).

According to a report commissioned by Vision 2020 Australia in 2009, vision loss also puts persons at three times the risk of developing depression. If not properly managed, it can also negatively affect social connectedness and sense of independence, particularly if the loss of a driving license also occurs.

Another eye health area in which men need to improve is eye safety.

In 2016, men accounted for 83% of the 11,078 of cases registered on the Medicare database in which optometrists removed a foreign body embedded in the eye.

“While more men than women may require this type of

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By | June 19th, 2017|Health|

Key US retailers ranked

Key optical retailers in the United States have been ranked by Vision Monday according to their annual sales (in $ millions).

Heading the list is Vision Source LP with 2016 sales of US$2,632,000 at its 3,344 stores.

Second is Luxottica Retail, with sales of US$2,400,000 at its 2,438 stores, followed by Wal-Mart Stores with sales of US$1,733,000 at its 3,575 stores.

Then follow National Vision Inc (US$1,125,000 in 943 stores), Costco Wholesale $961,000 (491); Visionworks of America, Inc $917,000 (748).


By | June 19th, 2017|Business|

Pluvius on ‘experts’

WORDS of wisdom from Drayton Bird: “Don’t trust experts. An expert is someone from out of town who knows nothing about the subject but has lots of slides.”

… and contempt of court

FEDERAL health minister Greg Hunt and two other ministers (all three are graduates in law) have said they won’t apologise for their remarks about the Court of Appeal in Victoria, claiming that the court is too lenient when it comes to terrorism cases and that it’s OK to criticise it when an appeal in such a case (as is happening at present) is not yet decided.

The Supreme Court of Victoria is incensed by their behaviour, as it has made very clear, referring to the possibility of imprisonment were they to be found in contempt of court.

But fear not, gentlemen; none other than ‘The Human Headline’ himself (a.k.a. Senator Derryn Hinch) has entered the fray on your side. Yes, the same Derryn who was jailed twice for contempt of court; the voice of experience!

By | June 19th, 2017|Comment|

Federal health minister refuses to apologise to court; risks contempt proceedings

Federal health minister Greg Hunt has refused to apologise to the Victoria Supreme Court or to retract accusations he made during a Victoria Court of Appeal’s deliberation on a terrorism matter, risking being charged for contempt of court.

  • Solicitor-General Mr Stephen Donaghue, QC, representing Mr Hunt, and two other federal ministers whose actions were considered by the court (Allan Tudge and Michael Sukkar) initially told the Supreme Court on 16 June the three ministers regret their statements, but will not apologise for them. Later he told the court Mr Sukkar wished to withdraw one of the statements attributed to him. The same later applied to Mr Hunt and Mr Tudge.
  • All three have been asked to show reason why they should not be charged with contempt of court.
  • In the Supreme Court on 16 June, Victoria’s Chief Justice, Marilyn Warren, said the three ministers should be held to account in “the strongest terms”, but there comments would not sway the court.

“The public should understand this is not the end of the matter,” she said.

The three ministers have not been required to appear in the court themselves.

A letter from the Judicial Registrar to each of the three says comments by them published in The Australian newspaper, accusing the judiciary of advocating

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By | June 18th, 2017|Legal|