At our March 4 meeting, Allan West introduced our speaker, Dr Jennifer Lawless, a member of the History Teachers Association executive. Her PhD research on Gallipoli prisoners of war is now a published book, Kismet. She has recorded the names of the 67 POWs, their experience in Turkish camps and what happened to them when they returned. Her $100 donation will go to the NSW Cancer Council in memory of her mother and father.
At our February 10 meeting, Terry Jones introduced Diana Bernard from the Senior Rights Service: (02) 9281 3600, 1800 424 079. Her government-funded body is involved in aged care and retirement village advocacy and provides legal advice.
Volunteering and contact
Vicki, from Jews for Social Action (JSA) wants volunteers for homework support at Biala, Aboriginal Girls Hostel, Allambie Heights. Nick (JSA) wants volunteers for literacy support of primary students in Northern Sydney. Australian Volunteers for International Development sent a brochure. Ron Dingwall would like information about a trip in late 1950 to Uluru with seven retired female teachers.
Federal parliament will soon vote on implementing legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Thanks to Ian Massingham, the RTA sent in a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties which says, in extract:
“The NSW Retired Teachers Association represents 6225 members. Our concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement are at three levels.
“Our first view reflects our membership demographic of senior citizens. The TPP locks in stronger monopoly rights for the larger pharmaceutical companies, which will lead to higher prices for medicines. Australia’s law on costly biologic medicines will not change immediately. Nevertheless, there is a treaty commitment to deliver up to three years of additional monopoly for biologic medicines …
“Our second concerns are generational, about the kind of future we are bequeathing our grandchildren. The TPP is essentially not about fair trade but about restricting future governments from regulating in the public interest. The TPP allows foreign corporations to bypass domestic courts and sue governments over changes to domestic law, in international tribunals which have ... no appeals. The TPP contains only weak labour rights and environmental standards, which are not enforceable. Labour market testing for temporary migrant workers is removed. It will expand the use of temporary migrant labour here in Australia, exposing more of these workers to exploitation, as seen in the 7-11 stores and other industries. It removes the requirement that the availability of local workers is first tested. This is not the Australia we envisaged for our grandchildren.
“Lastly, during the secretive negotiations, we were not provided with a systematic cost and benefit analysis of the TPP and, importantly, to which groups most benefits would accrue and upon whom most costs would fall. A ... World Bank study estimated that the TPP will result in a tiny 0.7 per cent growth in the Australian economy after 15 years.”
May Steilberg reported that the Australian Council of Public Sector Retiree Organisations (ACPSRO) wants to raise its profile and widen membership; the NSW Retired Police Association and the Public Service Association are possible new members.
The Productivity Commission has been asked to develop criteria to assess the efficiency and competitiveness of the super system and a public inquiry to develop models for a competitive process for allocating default fund members to products.
This inquiry might be the start of a move to define the purpose of superannuation, which is where ACPSRO members, with our often bitter experience of defined benefit schemes, might be able to contribute.
At a meeting on March 3, ACPSRO decided to seek comprehensive data about the impact of the 10 per cent cap on the amount of super pension used in assessing a superannuant’s eligibility for a part aged pension on these fundamental questions:
- total number of retirees who have lost all aged pension benefits entitlements
- total dollar amount of all cancelled aged pension entitlements
- total number of affected retirees who have lost some but not all aged pension entitlements
- total dollar amount of those who have lost some but not all aged pension entitlements.
Support for ICAC
Ian Massingham moved that the RTA express support for the ICAC as a necessary constraint on administrative corruption. Recent cases indicate how the courts can be manipulated through delay and obscurification by the powerful and rich. So much corruption is on a collusive “wink and nod” basis, without written evidence. ICAC is vital in pursuing corruption by alternative means.
Bias with ATO
Enid Hokin moved that NSW RTA is outraged at the Australian Tax Office’s decision to place 60 multinational companies on its “high risk” watch list for failure to give reports showing their profits, how much tax they have paid and where. The average citizen would never be treated so generously: the ATO would immediately pursue their tax obligations.
Congratulations to Dodson
Enid Hokin moved that the NSW RTA congratulate Pat Dodson on his nomination to the Senate. Professor Dodson, the Father of Reconciliation, is the most prestigious Indigenous spokesperson on Indigenous rights. His voice in parliament will be a significant contribution to closing the gap. We wish him every success.
The RTA wrote to the state and federal Labor Party leadership to make an electoral issue of technical education. Enid Hokin moved that the NSW RTA is gravely concerned at the enormous reduction in students enrolled in TAFE while private institutions accumulate fortunes with government money. The diminishing number of TAFE students will lead to a serious shortage of tradespersons.
Allan West is the Secretary, NSW Retired Teachers Association and can be contacted on (02) 9484 5693.