RETIRED TEACHERS ASSOCIATION

Allan West

Understanding aged care

At our February 14 meeting, Terry Jones introduced Charmaine Crowe, Aged Care Policy Advisor with the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association, who spoke on “Understanding the Aged Care System — a new system but the same old problems?”. Copies of the talk are available at www.cpsa.org.au and Charmaine can be contacted at (02) 9281 3888 or 1800 451 488 or at agedcare@cpsa.org.au

Charmaine gave an explanation of the Living Longer Living Better program, introduced by the Federal Labor Government in 2012, which will apply to all those entering aged care after July 1. Ron Denham thanked Charmaine for her interesting and informative talk; her $200 donation will go to the CPSA.

RTA Life Members Marie and Ken Muir

Federation General Secretary Jenny Diamond pinned association life membership badges on Marie and Ken Muir, saying these were occasions when peers acknowledged the exceptional work of members — their drive and passion to make things happen. Marie and Ken exemplified the value of public education, she said; they had influenced the lives of so many students over the years. Shirley Bains, Vice-President RTA, said Marie and Ken, who are moving to Western Australia, would be greatly missed. Ken had always hunted down injustices through his support of AFTINet. Marie had strongly supported women’s issues, particularly the Jessie Street National Women’s Library. They had both worked tirelessly for retired, aged and Indigenous people and would no doubt continue in public education campaigns. Marie and Ken thanked the RTA and Federation.

Vale Michael Law

Michael Law, living at Chipping Norton, passed away at Christmas. Margaret called us to stand for a minute’s silence.

CRUMA report

CRUMA met on January 20. Mick Tubbs, who began life as a labourer and finished as a barrister, has written a new book, Dictatorship of Capital; Max has a copy. Eight CRUMA members will begin computer classes at Federation for six weeks beginning February 17.

AFTINET

Ian Massingham pointed out that there were new pressures on governments these days. El Salvador was being sued by Oceania Gold Co. for $US310 million because the country was refusing to allow the company to use cyanide in its mining operations. Ian moved that the RTA support the AFTINET petition, “Stop foreign investors suing our government — reject Korean trade deal”, and endorses the International Allies Coalition Against Mining in El Salvador’s sign-on letter to the World Bank.

Sydney Alliance

There will be a city assembly at Sydney Town Hall at 7pm on March 26 to present issues involving social inclusion, community health and transport to the NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell, and state ministers.

Full confidence in ABC

Enid Hokin moved that the RTA advise Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Federal Government that it has full confidence in the ABC’s high-quality, professional presentation of balanced current affairs and political commentary programs, all without fear or favour. The ABC was not and must not be permitted to become a mouthpiece for any political party or government. Accusations of imbalance by successive governments over the decades stood as testament to the ABC’s impartiality. The ABC was bound by its Charter while no such proscriptions applied to commercial media. In contrast to what is often a deplorable level of programming by commercial media the ABC was a beacon of integrity and honesty.

The ABC provided an invaluable service to people in isolated areas and was an important source of information for people in crisis situations, fires, floods, etc. It was crucial that funding for the ABC was continued at a level that permitted it to continue to supply these vital services. The broadcaster must not be compressed into a huge conglomerate with other public media organisations for the sake of cost-cutting: this would diminish not only the ABC but also other public media organisations.

No widening of GST

May Steilberg moved that the RTA register strong opposition to extend the GST to cover private spending on fresh food, health, education, child care, water and sewerage as proposed by the Grattan Institute recently. The adverse effects of such a measure would fall most heavily on those people who are less well-off. Increases in welfare to counteract the adverse effects are never sufficient.

$6 fee for bulk-billing

Shirley Bains moved that the RTA oppose any decision by the Federal Government to impose a $6 fee on bulk-billing patients visiting their GP for the first 12 visits each year: “We view this proposal, coming from the Prime Minister’s former health advisor, Terry Barnes, as targeting people on low incomes because it is they who form the majority of patients of bulk-billing GPs. Many pensioners survive from one fortnight’s pay to the next and a $6 fee would prevent many of them — and others on low incomes — from seeing a doctor. We have a real concern that this will be the beginning of a dismantling of Medicare as we know it.”

Public assets belong to us

Enid Hokin moved that the RTA remind the Prime Minister and the Treasurer that the public assets, both federal and state, which they are proposing to sell are not the property of government but belong to the people. The motion said public assets, by and large, produced considerable annual income which was available to fund important public services. Once sold, public assets were gone forever, to public detriment. The exceptions were assets such as Qantas which, badly managed by the private sector, then came to government seeking financial assistance.

The government would have to put every existing public asset on the market as previous governments of both persuasions had already sold off Telstra, the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney Airport and many other entities, every one of which represented a huge loss of wealth to our nation. These sales would not solve budget problems but, in fact, created increasing budgetary problems.

Pharmaceuticals cost protest

May Steilberg moved that the RTA oppose any increase in the cost of pharmaceuticals above the annual CPI increase.

Disabled car space

Barbara McGregor moved that the RTA ask the Federation to seek disabled car spaces from Sydney City Council outside Federation House in Mary Street for the benefit of members who have “Disabled” stickers.

ABC’s overseas network

Enid Hokin moved that the RTA call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, to make public the number of complaints about the ABC’s overseas network and the source and nature of the complaints. It was not acceptable that the Minister made a vague statement that she has received complaints. It was clear that the Federal Government intended to remove this service from the ABC and hand it to Sky TV for Rupert Murdoch’s greater profit and to support the extension of his media empire. We must not allow this to be done by stealth.

Allan West is the Secretary, NSW Retired Teachers Association and can be contacted on (02) 9484 5693. The RTA blogsite is rtansw.blogspot.com.

Social news

Sydney
For more information, contact Allan West or connect to RTA blog rtansw.blogspot.com or Federation’s website at www.nswtf.org.au

Tuesday March 18: Luncheon at Bowlers Club, 99 York Street, Sydney, at noon.

Wednesday March 19: Visit to Art Express (HSC Art major works) at the Art Gallery of NSW at 11am, followed by lunch. Book with Chrys Marshall on (02) 9736 2284.

Wednesday April 9: Tour of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Costumes at Old Government House, Parramatta Park, starting at noon, cost $14 (meet outside Parramatta RSL, Macquarie Street, Parramatta at 11am). Book with Allan West on (02) 9484 5693.

Wagga Wagga
For more information contact Geoff Amos by phone (02) 6922 5108 or email amosglje@bigpond.net.au

Tuesday April 15: Visit to Kurrajong Waratah E-Waste Recyclers.

Next meetings

Sydney
Friday April 11: 12.15pm lunch. 1pm lecturer in environmental economics at the University of Western Sydney Neil Perrywill speak on the repealing of the carbon pricing legislation. 2pm Meeting.

Wagga Wagga
For more information contact Geoff Amos (02) 6922 5108 or amosglje@bigpond.net.au

Tuesday March 18: Speaker from Sunflower Family Services will address the meeting to be held at Federation’s Riverina regional office, Weedon Chambers, corner of Gurwood and Trail Streets, Wagga Wagga at 10.45am.

Armidale
For more information contact Anne Parnell (aparnel2@une.edu.au).