Teaching in prisons
At our June 13 meeting, Stewart Burkitt of the Corrective Services TA spoke about teaching people in detention. Stewart is an ESL teacher at Long Bay Gaol and has been President of the CSTA for seven years. The CSTA was established 30 years ago and is one of the smallest associations with 150 members. Members are connected by email and meetings are held through teleconferencing at lunchtimes. In the 31 gaols in NSW, teaching is provided in literacy, numeracy, art, computing and ESL. Some gaols provide horticulture, pottery, construction, communications and business studies. Criminogenic issues such as alcohol, violence and sex offences are formally brought up in groups — these programs are of nine months’ duration. Education is not compulsory but it helps with gaining parole.
Don Morrison moved that RTA write to NSW Labor leader John Robertson, suggesting that he makes an election issue out of parking at hospitals.
Max Prince reported that 140 pages of evidence were sent by the Combined Retired Union Members Association (CRUMA) to the investigating officer at the tax office in Melbourne regarding banks and insurance companies outsourcing their tax liabilities. The Maritime Union of Australia delegate stated that the residents at Millers Point were extremely concerned about the proposed re-housing and it was recommended that Green Bans be placed on Millers Point.
CRUMA stated its outrage, condemnation and total rejection of the Budget’s strategic intention to make the corporations of capital even richer and more socially dominant than they already are. The Abbott Government told deliberate lies in order to gain office and the vast bulk of Australians will not tolerate blatant political dishonesty by any government. Members no longer recognise the legitimacy of the Abbott Government.
Ian Massingham received an acknowledgement that the Minister for Trade had received the letter from the Australian Free Trade and Investment Network (AFTINet) asking for rejection of harmful proposals in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement; 46 organisations wrote similar letters.
The Australian Council of Public Sector Retiree Organisations (ACPSRO) reported on an address on the Budget that was given by ANU Emeritus Professor of Political Science Professor John Warhurst at the Superannuated Commonwealth Officers Association meeting on June 3.
He said the Abbott Government would need guile to regain acceptability. To pass the Budget, the Government needs either ALP or Green support, or the Palmer United Party plus two miscellaneous Senators. Because of Budget unpopularity, there is unlikely to be a double dissolution. The aged pension and social security benefit changes and medical co-payment probably will not pass. The mining tax, fuel excise levy, modified Parental Benefit Scheme and the top income tax increase probably will pass.
ACPSRO welcomes the passing of legislation indexing the cut-offs for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card to the CPI.
Aged pension indexation
Allan West moved that the RTA considers that using the CPI only to index aged pensions is a totally inadequate measure. We urge the retention of the present indexation (CPI, Male Total Average Weekly Earnings or Pensioner Cost of Living Index, whichever is the highest). This will allow aged pensioners to maintain a reasonable standard of living rather than falling further behind in purchasing power.
Pension concession concerns
It was moved by Shirley Bains that RTA write to the NSW Premier, seeking assurance that the concessions for pensioners (travel, energy rebates, etc.) will continue past the 12-month guarantee that he has already given. We are pressuring the Federal Government to resume the contributions it makes to the states towards payment of these concessions.
Many of our members on low superannuation incomes will be greatly affected by withdrawal of these benefits. The withdrawal of these concessions would affect the health and wellbeing of senior NSW citizens and their ability to travel more freely around the city and the state, acting as volunteers and child-minding grandparents.
Fury over Budget
It was moved by Shirley Bains that the RTA condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the cruel and unfair Budget brought down by the Australian Government. It is obvious that the “heavy lifting” will be done by those least able to afford it, particularly low and middle-income families and pensioners.
Budget cuts have not been spread evenly through the community. The 2 per cent tax on high incomes and the politicians’ salary sacrifice will operate for a short time but the linking of pensions to the CPI will operate forever and its effects could see a lowering of pension incomes by 21 per cent in 10 years. We reject totally the proposition of the Treasurer that any opposition to his Budget would be “waging class war”. On the contrary, class warfare has been truly generated by his own grossly unfair Budget, to the point where the Government is engaging in social re-engineering. The Federal Government has not been able to justify this Budget at any level and we remind Mr Hockey that, despite his efforts, we still have one “entitlement” that he has not been able to remove — our right to vote at the next elections.
Privatised food testing
It was moved by Ron Denham that the NSW RTA is very concerned that the proposed closing of the NSW Ministry of Health Food Testing Laboratories and the transfer of this role to less rigorous private providers will place public health standards at risk. The NSW Forensic Analytical Sciences Services Food Testing Laboratories tests food and water to a high standard and have done so for more than 120 years free of any conflict of interest.
The NSW RTA requests that the Minister reconsiders this proposal to ensure that public health standards in NSW are not compromised.
It was moved by Patricia Campbell-Hardwick that the Environment Minister should ensure that washable nappies and accompanying nappy pins, which are often unavailable for purchase, be returned to retail shelves. Furthermore, these two lifesavers should be promoted in government and commercial advertisements before the millions of plastic disposable nappies further choke the oceans and landfills, killing our precious sea and land creatures, and upsetting our food chains in years to come.
Michael Newton reminded us that WEA offers course discounts for RTA members. Phone (02) 9268 7526.
Teaching and writing opportunities
- Frank Dennis (0432 762 430) is looking for retired teachers still passionate about their subject area to assist home-schooled children with their studies.
- Colin Bailey, Catchup English, wants volunteers to help children and adults in schools (0415 929 082; firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Garry Richards is writing up a tour guide of NSW and wants teachers to send him details of good places to visit in NSW (email@example.com; (03) 9763 8316).
Allan West is the Secretary, NSW Retired Teachers Association and can be contacted on (02) 9484 5693. The RTA blogsite is rtansw.blogspot.com.