Ulysses comments …


Back after a short illness

Happy to report back after a short illness; nothing to worry about. The treatment received was much appreciated – and successful.

Now it’s back to the keyboard and blue pencil!


Setting the record straight

I noticed a write-up in an optical magazine reporting a retail optical group’s CEO claiming media reports last year suggesting there was doubt about the group’s ability to continue were inaccurate, followed by direct quotes from the CEO in support of that claim.

The fact is the information about the group’s ability to continue was published in the group’s own directors report to shareholders to 30 June 2017, including this independent statement from its [chartered-accountant] auditors: “… these events or conditions, along with other matters as set forth in [a note to the accounts] indicate that a material uncertainty may exist that may cast significant doubts on the group’s ability to continue as a going concern. Our opinion is not modified in respect of this matter.”

The auditors also said: “The directors are of the opinion that the debt financing and the growth in the businesses required will enable the group to pay its debts when they fall due and therefore believe it is appropriate to prepare the financial report on the going concern basis.

“However in the event

Read More >

By | April 18th, 2018|Comment|

Former health minister appointed CEO of Bupa ANZ

A former federal health minister, Ms Nicola Roxon, has been appointed chairman of private health insurance fund Bupa in Australia and New Zealand.

Bupa ANZ is a wholly-owned subsidiary of British United Provident Association Limited, contributing 40 per cent of its parent company’s total revenue and total pre-tax profit.

Ms Roxon was health minister when the then government reduced the Medicare fee for cataract surgery in 2009, saying the government did “not want to pick a fight with specialists but we have to stand up for patients and taxpayers.”

Also, that “improvements in technology have made this life-improving surgery quicker and less expensive. We believe patients and taxpayers, not specialists earning on average half a million dollars a year, should reap the benefits of these improvements.”

Not long afterwards, Ms Roxon was moved to be attorney-general in a re-shuffle of federal ministers.

The decision slashed the Medicare fee for cataract surgery from $831.60 to $416. As Medicare paid a rebate of only 75 per cent of the fee for in-hospital procedures, the new rebate became $312, instead of $623.70.

Medicare rebates for cataract surgery had already been reduced twice, first by 32 per cent in 1987 and by a further 10 per cent in 1996, to take account of the efficiencies of new techniques, particularly phaco-emulsification.


Read More >

By | April 2nd, 2018|Comment|

Ulysses comments …


Honest as the day is long

Some years ago, Hoya was hit by a serious flood in Bangkok that knocked out its big prescription-lens laboratory there for a considerable time.

As a result the company’s laboratories across the world tried to make up for the lost production volume, but, had as they all tried there were delays, causing some clients to take their lens business elsewhere, Australia being no exception.

As a result, competitor laboratories here (ones that actually surfaced and/or fitted lenses locally or had their overseas colleagues do it) received a pile of work, so much so that at the end of it all (when Hoya’s Bangkok laboratory re-opened some months later) one overseas-owned company sent a substantial bonus to be shared by its staff in Australia to thank them for their efforts during the bonanza.

A much-appreciated gesture.

The only problem was that the head of the company here kept the bonus intended for the staff!


The ‘Rt. Hon.’ chairman

Former federal health minister Nicola Roxon has been appointed chairman of large private health insurance fund in Australia and New Zealand, Bupa, a wholly-owned subsidiary of t British United Provident Association Limited.

Let’s hope for Nicola Roxon’s sake she makes a better fist of her new job than what she made of her part in

Read More >

By | April 2nd, 2018|Comment|

Ulysses comments …


Long-term forecasts

The name of the game seems to be making long-term forecasts about the future for graduates in medicine and optometry.

The Australian Medical Students Association forecasts a shortage of training posts for about 1,000 graduates in medicine by 2030 (12 years ahead), while Optometry Australia is looking (get this) 22 years ahead – i.e. to 2040!

Just how are those sort of supposed forecasts worked out so far ahead? They aren’t; in most instances they’re just figments of imagination by people who probably believe in fairy tales and all other forms of make-believe and whose clientele hand over eye-watering fees to get to listen to their nonsense.

As a quick online search reveals, there are umpteen academics and others claiming to be ‘futurists’, whatever that may mean.

Yes, according to their online self-promotions full of impressive words, they have all the answers, but there’s really not much that’s any better than mumbo jumbo.

A complete waste of time and money, should you fall for it.


Share-bikes a hazard

When will local councils in Sydney do something about share-bikes littering the streets after being carelessly dumped by riders?

It’s bad enough that the careless riders inconvenience sighted people, but something has to be done to remove the danger for people with poor eyesight or who are blind, as

Read More >

By | March 19th, 2018|Comment|

Ulysses comments …


Heard it all before

Not unexpectedly, there’s been an annoyed response to the entrance and rapid expansion of Specsavers in the hearing business in Australia.

For years, the manufacturers of hearing aids called the shots for purveyors of hearing aids, training their staffs, setting sales targets, pressuring them for greater sales and so on. There was little independence for audiometrists nor audiologist, with their greater emphasis being on selling, selling, selling.

Now an organisation with more than a few rounds of the hearing-aid block under its belt (in the United Kingdom), is here.

Almost as a matter of course, the locals have been narky, hurling the usual insults as in optical, but it’s all water off a duck’s back; Specsavers has heard it all before!

By | March 11th, 2018|Comment|

Ulysses comments …


Fund lowers its cover

To date, there has been no response from other private health funds to the recent announcements that major private health fund Bupa is taking to low-premium members when it comes to cover for “costly” operations, as well as forcing them to be operated on at a hospital contracted to Bupa or forego ‘gap’ cover.

The question now arises: will the other private health funds follow Bupa’s example?

Never stand between a health fund and a bucket of money 


Voodoo economics

Donald Trump, President of the United States, should have sat in on an Economics 101 lecture before he decided to impose import tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium.

Because the rest of the world will hit back and impose their tariffs of at least equal rates, or even ban must-have American products such as Harley Davidson motorcycles and a raft of other ones.

Near to home, even American-made products with small metal content, such as frames and sunglasses, will be hit by the tariffs as the components are largely supplied to American manufacturers by foreign companies – European countries for the quality products and Asia for the cheapies.

It’s likely to be a trade war that not even Donald can prevent America from ending up a huge

Read More >

By | March 4th, 2018|Comment|

Ulysses comments …


Congratulations Barry Collin

Congratulations are well and truly due to Emeritus Professor Barry Collin, who has retired as editor of Clinical and Experimental Optometry, hanging up his blue pencil after 24 years in the position.

He joined the publication in 1993 after a very successful career in academia, particularly as a researcher, including appointment to the Chair of Optometry at the University of NSW in 1982, succeeding Professor Josef Lederer, retiring from that position in 1992.

During his editorship, the publication grew from a struggling journal to become a highly-regarded, truly-international one.

Professor Collin is succeeded as editor of Clinical and Experimental Optometry by Emeritus Professor Nathan Efron.


What next for contact lenses?

Will the next step for daily disposable contact lenses be just a new way of delivering an old product? That happened with razors (Dollar Shave Club).

Is it going to be a novel, game-changing material that will change the way contact lenses are fitted? Will it be for treatment of diseases such as dry eye, allergies, or glaucoma? Will there be some sort of technological contact lens (‘smart’ contact lens) that provides some sort of advantage to wearers?

Who knows.

By | February 28th, 2018|Comment|

Ulysses comments …


TAFE NSW: How not to run a business

What remains to be seen now in the optical-dispensing textbooks fiasco is what will happen after 30 June. There is every chance the TAFE NSW bureaucracy (or the NSW Minister for Skills) will decide to re-impose the ban on the supply of two textbooks to non-TAFE NSW optical dispensing courses. After all, a ‘Yes, Minister’ decision that would make Sir Humphrey proud has been made.

No doubt that is being considered by the affected courses.

Good as they may be, perhaps whatever alternative textbooks are found elsewhere may be better – much better – than the two local books, whose much-championed copyright could end up becoming largely worthless.

That would be a great feather in TAFE NSW’s cap; throwing away a nice, regular earner in an attempt to wreak revenge. But remember TAFE NSW lost an estimated $1 billion a few years ago when it was suckered into buying a useless computer system from a now-broke British company that did untold harm, so it’s not surprising.

The textbooks fiasco, while tiny by comparison to the $1-billion one, is an issue that cannot be allowed to get out of hand or to take up any further time to soothe ruffled feathers. It calls for a proper decision to

Read More >

By | February 25th, 2018|Comment|

Ulysses comments …


Exceptional eyecare

Would someone please explain what exactly is “exceptional eyecare”.

Seemingly it’s provided by all sorts of optometrists, judging from their advertisements, but your humble scribe can’t work out what it means.

Something I’m missing?



Retail czar Solomon Lew is looking set for a victory this year over the board of Myer, after the department-store group has issued yet-another profit warning due to yet-another decrease in pre- and post-Christmas sales.

It will take a bit of smooching with the other significant shareholders before Solly can show the door to all of the Myer directors as the result of an extraordinary meeting he will call, but it will happen because big and small shareholders are fed up with the board’s performance.

Do I hear “Howzatt” for the soon-to-be-discarded Myer directors?


Market ‘correction’

The so-called “correction” of the share market that started last week is hitting well-run companies (such as JB Hi-Fi), as well as duds (see above).

The explanation is said to be investor disappointment after the company posted a leap in first-half earnings in a weak trading environment but softened

Coming Up

  • SUPER SUNDAY (Optometry NSW/ACT), 11 March, Big Top, Luna Park, Sydney, (02) 9712 2199.
  • VISION EXPO, 15-18 March, Javits Center, New York City.
  • O-SHOW, 14-15 July, Peninsular Central Pier, Docklands, Melbourne, (02) 9450 0765.
  • SILMO SYDNEY, 20-22

    Read More >

By | February 18th, 2018|Comment|

Ulysses comments …


Suckers this way

One of the dailies recently carried a feature of “the latest stand-out sunnies”.

And what stand-outs they were – for people who don’t realise how silly they look wearing such convoluted styles. As for the prices – upwards from $500 or so to more than $600 for pieces of distressed wire fitted (if that’s the correct word for such shoddy workmanship) with zany lenses.

There’s one born every minute, as the saying goes.


Highway robbery

Indebted to Stetch Kontelj, who found time from his duties as Specsavers’   global legal director, based in Guernsey, to email an item from the Geelong Advertiser, (yes, the newspaper in Victoria): “Welcome to the new norm in Victoria, where if you can get electricity, it will cost you seven fold more than in 2007!”

No wonder people are backing off retail spending, such as for a new pair of glasses, when an essential item like electricity costs so much.


I’m OK, Jack

The Trans-Pacific Agreement (minus the United States) has finally been signed, after years of negotiations between the nations surrounding the Pacific Ocean.

Despite a serious outbreak of brotherly and sisterly love over it all, a flaw in the agreement opens the gate for prescription pharmaceuticals to be imported accompanied by big price increases, (from the US in particular) which

Read More >

By | February 4th, 2018|Comment|