Australian Demographer Birrell Criticised by Health Workforce Australia
Dr. Bob Birrell caught red handed, maybe not red faced, nor brown?
“HWA clarifies Dr Bob Birrell’s claims about the Health Workforce 2025 report
On Friday 1 March 2013, The Australian reported on the release of a research report by Dr Bob Birrell of Monash University titled “Too many GPs”.
The report challenges the view that there is a shortage of GPs in Australia, and includes some criticism of the findings in Health Workforce 2025: Doctors, Nurses and Midwives (HW2025), the first long-term, national projections for the health workforce to 2025.
Health Workforce Australia (HWA) has completed a thorough analysis of the criticisms and has found a number of inaccuracies and issues with Dr Birrell’s report.
- Dr Birrell has misinterpreted or misunderstood HWA’s methodology and scenarios at various points
- Dr Birrell has used incorrect GP data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to establish [inaccurately] that HWA data is out of date
- Dr Birrell makes inaccurate claims that HWA has understated the number of immigrant doctors, however, he has misunderstood the way HWA has modelled this part of the medical workforce
- Dr Birrell draws conclusions from government initiatives such as bulk billing that are tenuous at best
- Dr Birrell prefers simple measures of oversupply/undersupply, however, determining the health care needs of communities is complex which is why HWA has adopted a qualitative approach using a range of expert views
- Dr Birrell states inaccurately that the HW2025 report suggests that the government should not limit the flow of IMGs into the GP workforce. There is absolutely no such claim in the report
- Dr Birrell also suggests that all domestic and international graduates from Australian Medical Schools should enter the medical workforce yet evidence suggests that only 70% of international medical graduates seek to stay in Australia which is reflected in HWA’s modelling.
The projections in Health Workforce 2025: Doctors, Nurses and Midwives show us that unless we start doing things differently, Australia is going to experience continuing health workforce shortages.”
Should hardly be surprising since Birrell’s tactics are familiar, misinterpreting or misunderstanding data, used incorrect data, inaccurate claims, tenuous conclusions, etc. etc.
Why would an experienced researcher do this? The answer lies in his past…… contributing and liaising with The Social Contract Press TSCP founded by John Tanton who has been described as:
“The Social Contract Press (TSCP) routinely publishes race-baiting articles penned by white nationalists. The press is a program of U.S. Inc, the foundation created by John Tanton, the racist founder and principal ideologue of the modern nativist movement. TSCP puts an academic veneer of legitimacy over what are essentially racist arguments about the inferiority of today’s immigrants.” Southern Poverty Law Center
This sort of behaviour should preclude Birrell from being consulted on issues related to immigration, overseas trained doctors, international students, labour market, demography etc. by government and media.
However, his constant xenophobic message has resonance in Australia, both sides of politics and media.
He is quoted often by Alan Jones, The Australian (including Higher Ed), Andrew Bolt and John Masanauskas at The Herald Sun and News Corp, commercial news or current affairs, and of course Sustainable Population Australia (and their patron Bob Carr, plus Progressive for Immigration Reform MP Kelvin Thomson).
More disturbing is his success (the real objective, to influence), i.e. how his views and opinions (presented as ‘research’) are accepted at face value by centre and left media e.g. Jon Faine at ABC, Tim Colebatch at The Age, Leith van Onselen at MacroBusiness etc. then transmitted on as researched fact or empirical evidence, when it is far from the case.
If anyone wonders why Australia has become more or remains palpably xenophobic both in policy and personal views…… this is part of the problem….. conditioning and reinforcement through Australia’s not very diverse media.