Opal loses glow
Chris Bouwman moved that the RTA requests the removal of storage of Opal surveillance data of 18 months’ duration for holders of the Senior Opal card. This is effectively a tracking device of every Opal journey and its duration. This constant electronic surveillance was not deemed necessary under any previous ticketing system. Unregistered adult and child/youth Opal holders are not subject to this scrutiny, nor is their personal data stored for a year-and-a-half.
The practice makes vulnerable Senior Opal travellers who have a regular schedule to attend medical or social events because the information can be collated to reveal times when these seniors are not at home on a regular basis. Seniors need to be protected by their rights to privacy and personal liberty being violated by the equivalent of a note being placed on their door stating, “I’m out this morning; back at four”.
This constant electronic surveillance is a discrimination against Seniors Opal card holders, equivalent to wearing an electronic tracking device, which is the reserve of the criminal and suspect in Australian society. RTA requests that the 18 months’ tracking and storage of data of Senior Opal card users be abolished in the rights of all citizens to travel freely and anonymously.
Showbiz and all that jazz
At our February 24 meeting, Anne-Marie Kestle introduced Charlie and Abbie Little - email here or call (02) 9389 7316. They formed the Charlie Little Group that for 30 years has been giving illuminating lectures and workshops to demystify the world of the stage and taking tour groups to interstate and overseas theatre festivals. Ron Denham thanked Charlie and Abbie for their excellent presentation. Their $100 donation go to Parkinson’s NSW.
Margaret De La Garde reported that a media statement from the Australian Council of Public Sector Retiree Organisations (ACPSRO) says Questions on Notice from a Senate Estimates Committee suggest the Department of Social Services is suggesting a new reason for making the “10 per cent cap” policy change legislated in 2015 and implemented from January 2016.
In the May 2015 Budget, when there was a “Budget emergency”, Scott Morrison was minister for social services; he was told that if he reduced from 50 per cent to 10 per cent the amount of tax-free income that defined benefit pensioners can exclude from the age pension income test he could save the government just over $100 million a year.
The real financial burden has fallen on retirees with total incomes in the $30,000-$60,000 range. This was explained as “stopping fat cats” from claiming part pension.
Ron Denham reported on the February 20 Combined Retired Union Members (CRUMA) meeting where Mick Tubbs spoke on the Fair Work Act. He said it had 165,000 words, with 53 having different meanings to that in a dictionary; workers had to know 800 sections; 49 offences incurred gaol terms and 166 carried fines, with the law stating that “ignorance is no defence in law”. Mr Tubbs pointed out that the Arbitration Act 1986 was a quarter of the size, with “conciliation” a key plank, rather than gaol and fines. CRUMA has decided to allocate up to $2000 to print and distribute a booklet titled Why You Should Belong To a Trade Union to be distributed at the three forthcoming NSW by-elections.
Ian Massingham, reporting from the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINet) said that through globalisation 1 per cent of the world’s population was taking the money and the poor were being strangled. He attended the launch recently of the “Let’s make an economy for everyone” campaign at the Trades Hall. The release of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) Senate report is imminent; although President Donald Trump says it is dead, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is trying to push it. The RTA is urged to endorse an open letter that the TPPA will not guarantee jobs, be of benefit to the environment or uphold human rights. Ian moved the report and asked that the letter be endorsed.
Vale Robin Norling
Robin Norling, an admired Teacher of Art at Meadowbank TAFE from 1986, passed away suddenly on January 20. Members stood for a minute’s silence.
Vale Tony Vinson
Enid Hokin moved that RTA members are saddened by the death of Professor Tony Vinson on February 17.
Several RTA members attended his memorial service at Sydney University on February 22.
Penalty rate cuts
Enid Hokin moved that the cutting of penalty rates is a straight-out attack on workers’ wages and will not lead to increased employment; it will simply mean the employment of the same number of workers, with employers making greater profit.
Ten members in NSW received cakes last year for turning 80. We thank Therese Medhurst and the Lions Club. Contact us this year if you qualify.
Allan West is the Secretary, NSW Retired Teachers Association