RETIRED TEACHERS ASSOCIATION

Allan West

Climate combat

At our April 11 meeting, Terry Jones introduced Dr Neil Perry of the University of Western Sydney, who spoke on “Where to now for policies to combat climate change in Australia?”. The Coalition Government has announced its intention to repeal legislation for carbon pricing and replacing it; its Direct Action policy is just rhetoric, a form of “reverse auction”, a voluntary environmental policy that returns policy rights to the polluters. The positive outcome of all this is that there is still a renewable energy target and a challenge to reduce emissions by 2020 by 5 per cent of the Year 2000 levels.

Ron Denham thanked Neil for his presentation. Neil wanted his $200 donation to go to Stewart House.

Vale Jim Dombroski

Jim Dombroski passed away on 5 March, aged 96. He was a hard-working unionist who did not resile from his commitment to Federation when he became a principal at a south coast school. Enid Hokin remembered his refusal to let teachers do extras and ships being stopped outside Port Kembla Harbour as other unionists joined in campaigns led by Jim. Margaret De La Garde called us to stand for a minute’s silence.

Dangerous clause

Ian Massingham moved that a submission be sent to the Senate concerning the Trade and Foreign Investment (Protecting the Public Interest) Act 2014 and Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses in all trade and investment agreements. The RTA supports the legislation to reject any Investor-State Dispute Settlement clauses in all trade and investment agreements.

The grounds for this viewpoint are:

  • ISDS clauses expand legal rights for overseas investors that are not found in national legal systems
  • ISDS cases against national health and environmental legislation are increasing
  • The costs of running ISDS cases, and any compensation involved, would be an unnecessary expense for Australian taxpayers
  • disputes heard by international ISDS tribunals lack the legal protections found in our own legal systems
  • recent “safeguards” in ISDS clauses to protect domestic health, environmental and other public interest legislation have been demonstrably ineffective
  • increasing numbers of governments are withdrawing from ISDS clauses. Recent examples include France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, eight countries from Latin America and the majority world. Indonesia has recently announced it will terminate all ISDS clauses.

Dying with dignity

Several members attended the Dying with Dignity NSW AGM on April 5. The new President is Dr Sarah Edelmen. Treasurer Philip Busfield spoke of his UK experience with Dying in Dignity.

Despoiling the Botanic Gardens and Domain

Richard Fors moved that the RTA condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the plan supported by the NSW Government to pillage the Sydney Botanic Gardens and the Domain. The proposed plan to commercialise these public assets through the construction of inappropriate and unnecessary buildings is a disgrace because it will reduce already limited public space.

We call on the State Government to withdraw the proposals and commit to abandon the proposed restaurants, outdoor eating areas, “Orientation Building” and other structures at both the Opera House entrance to the Gardens as well as at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. In particular, we demand that any proposal for a “viewing platform” at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair be consigned to the rubbish bin where it belongs. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is a natural viewing platform itself and any intrusion of a man-made structure there would be a crime against nature.

The construction of a permanent sound shell in the Domain, with the prospect that trees will need to be removed to facilitate it, is a further reason for ensuring the plan is rejected.

Hospital parking

Shirley moved that the RTA protests against the exorbitant charges for parking at public hospitals. Most hospital carparks are now privately-owned by businesses that seek maximum profit. Many older people who have regular medical appointments at a hospital can only get there by car and this can entail a fee of $25–35. Some hospitals do offer parking discounts for concession card-holders but they are very few in number.

RTA believes that pensioners and other concession card-holders should be able to get a concession on their hospital parking, and we urge the ministers to seek these concessions from the operators of hospital carparks.

Millers Point smokescreen

Enid moved that the NSW RTA demands that the NSW Government reverse its decision to evict tenants from the Millers Point Housing Commission accommodation that is about to be sold to the private sector for huge profits. Many of the tenants are elderly working people who have lived there all their lives and are part of a very strong
community.

If this action proceeds, any tenant living in accommodation which is in the inner city, close to public transport, health facilities, shopping centres, recreational activities or with a view, should be very fearful.

Such accommodation, which has provided homes for low-income earners for many decades, has become sought-after real estate for the affluent.

Community Services Minister Pru Goward says the money made from the sale of the Millers Point residences will pay for large numbers of homes in Campbelltown. The government’s public statements about the high costs of maintaining the Millers Point houses are simply hypocritical — a smokescreen for its real motives.

Electricity price controls

Ian Massingham moved that the RTA condemns the NSW Government’s attempt to remove electricity price controls from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal. The 40 per cent of consumers without market-based contracts who come under these pricing provisions are likely to be from the poorer, older and disadvantaged sections of society. The predatory nature of energy providers is amply demonstrated by the Federal Court decisions in the cases of Origin Energy, AGL, Australian Power and Gas, Neighbourhood Energy and Australian Green Credits P/L, who were each ordered to pay $1 million plus penalties for their “door-to-door” selling practices.

Financial advice reform

Shirley moved that the RTA protests at the Government’s decision to introduce legislation that will dismantle the Future of Financial Advice reforms. Under this legislation, planners will no longer be required to act in the best interests of their clients.

Retirees, in particular, who are accumulating superannuation assets and other savings to see them through their twilight years, need good, independent and honest advice. They need some assurance that the advice they get is not tainted by the advisors’
self-interest.

Regulations need to be retained that would require advisers to act in the best interest of their clients, to be transparent about the fees they charge and to ask their clients every two years if they wish to continue using their services.

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 .
Monday May 19: Tour of Hurstville Museum, McMahon St, and exhibition, Rolling Stone: The Covers 1972-2010, 10.30am (Margaret 9150 4003).
Tuesday June 17: Luncheon at Bowlers Club, 99 York St, Sydney, noon.
Friday June 27: Tour of Exhibition at NSW State Library and Concert at St Stephen’s Uniting Church. Meet at 10.15am in foyer of NSW State Library (Margaret 9150 4003).

Wagga Wagga
For more information contact Geoff Amos by phone (02) 6922 5108 or email amosglje@bigpond.net.au.
Tuesday May 20: Visit to Kurrajong Waratah E-Waste Recyclers.

Next meetings

Sydney

Friday June 13: 12.15pm Lunch; 1pm Stewart Burkitt on “Education in Correctional Services and Detention Centres”, 2pm meeting.

Wagga Wagga

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

Tuesday July 15: at Riverina Regional Office of NSWTF, Weedon Chambers, Gurwood and Trail streets, Wagga Wagga, 10.45am. Guest speaker Glen Gauldron, a driving instructor, will update members on traffic rules and regulations.

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