Visit of Maurie Mulheron
At our October 10 meeting, Maurie distributed copies of If we forget history. With an Eric Pearson Study Grant, Maurie documented the 30-year war against public education. It takes us through the influence of Reagan, Thatcher and Murdoch to current threats such as Local Schools, Local Decisions and provides an excellent read.
How to publish your own book
Terry Jones welcomed Margaret Szalay of Cremorne1.com, a self-publishing book company. Margaret outlined tips about publishing family histories, short stories, novels, memoires, war diaries, etc. Planning is the key. Ian Massingham thanked Margaret for the information and inspiring talk. Her donation is directed at the Society of Australian Genealogists. Allan West thanked Terry for an excellent range of interesting speakers at this year’s meetings. Margaret can be phoned on (02) 9964 1829.
Vale Nancy Haron and Jim Abbey
Nancy Haron, past RTA Committee Member, passed away on September 25, aged 97; Nancy was an active member of APHEDA and toured the Middle East with Sir Ronald Wilson, the distinguished judge, churchman and socialist activist. She was an art teacher, and at her funeral on October 3, which was attended by several RTA members, many of her artworks were displayed and the Order of Service had a picture of koalas on the cover from a 1980 painting.
Kenneth James (Jim) Abbey passed away in Bathurst on August 5. He taught at Grenfell, Lithgow and Bathurst high schools before being appointed SSA Maths/Science at Richmond River HS, science master at Macquarie BHS and Cumberland HS, deputy principal at Walgett and Forest high schools and principal at Walgett and Doonside high schools and Normanhurst BHS. He fervently believed in public education and will be remembered for his work in the Science Teachers’ Association.
Margaret De La Garde called us to stand for a minute’s silence.
Friends of ABC AGM
Three RTA members attended the annual general meeting. Mark Colvin recalled that he accepted a cadetship with the ABC in 1973 and worked with, amongst others, Tony Joyce, Andrew Olle and Paul Lockyer, all of whom have passed away.
It is sad that Radio Australia has gone, with the loss of 80 positions including Sean Dorney. The Asia-Pacific network is to be absorbed within the general News network, and we are left wondering if hosts Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton jumped from At the Movies or were pushed. There has been an attack on news and public affairs programs with an expectation that the ABC will follow government views. Fortunately, the attack on Lateline appears to be defeated but Classic FM is in danger. ABC Chairman Jim Spigelman said we are required to do more with less.
The Friends of ABC has strengthened as an organisation, mainly through the good work of branches, with 700 new members. Mal Hewitt is an active chairperson and is encouraging individual members. Enid Hokin distributed the ABC Charter.
At the September 15 meeting of the Combined Retired Union Members Association concern was expressed at the NSW Government’s support of a proposal to grant two votes to businesses in the Sydney City Council elections. Cross-bench senators appear silent on pensioner-related budget cuts, so letters will be drafted to alert them of CRUMA’s concerns. A CRUMA representative present at the Millers Point terrace house auctions observed that the way the auction was administered could be illegal: bidders submit sealed envelopes as their offer.
CRUMA NSW expressed its alarm at the Abbott Government’s rapidly escalating involvement in the Middle East and the religious affairs of the Islamic world.
CRUMA is concerned about the serious decline and influence of the ACTU and its affiliates. The Abbott Government’s horror budget, combined with the effects of the GFC and the global environmental crisis, has seen a wasting away of union membership. The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, with a $200 million price tag and no fixed date of completion, is typical union-bashing by conservative politicians, and union recruitment is hampered by negative media publicity.
Margaret De La Garde attended the Australian Council of Public Sector Retiree Organisations (ACPSRO) Annual General Meeting in Canberra on October 8. The concern that CPI adjustment only be used for pension increases was expressed; CPI does not embrace retail prices.
ACPSRO will ask, through Freedom of Information legislation, what goods (e.g. televisions) are factored into the CPI. There was a concern that much information was American-based. More information will be forthcoming when the minutes are received.
Outspoken on security laws
Enid Hokin moved that the NSW RTA congratulate Melissa Parke, MHR for Fremantle, the only member of the Federal Labor opposition to speak out against the draconian security laws being introduced by the Federal Government under the pretence of security — laws that would mean people being detained and questioned for days, and, on release, being able to tell no-one, not even family, and journalists subject to gaol sentences for reporting matters deemed by the Attorney-General, George Brandis, to be security issues or ASIO
The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has condemned these laws in the strongest possible terms, as have prominent and highly reputed legal representatives, including the leading constitutional lawyer, Professor George Williams of the University of NSW.
Nursing homes reform
Shirley Bains moved that the ongoing inquest into the tragic fire at the Quakers Hill Nursing Home, which resulted in the deaths of 14 residents and severe health problems for several others, revealed two major problems needing to be addressed by governments:
- Sprinklers could have saved most of these lives, yet none were installed at Quakers Hill.
- The Quakers Hill authorities did not properly investigate the prior employment record of the convicted arsonist and chose to ignore the many complaints that other nursing staff made about his behaviour.
The RTA, therefore, demands that the State Government grant no more extensions for the installation of sprinklers and that government loans be offered to nursing homes that face difficulties with the installation of sprinklers. Further, that proprietors who do not carry out proper checks on staff be informed that all complaints from staff regarding questionable behaviour should be taken seriously and properly investigated.
Patricia Campbell-Hardwick moved that Ministers and Shadow Ministers urgently do some serious work in relation to our “fragile teens (needing) a hand” to get them through life, with the dysfunction of many parents addicted to drugs. In an article titled “Kids and teenagers with mental health issues deserve early intervention” (October 8), Sean Parnell, Health Editor of The Australian, states that intervention at an early stage can stave off long-term issues.
Review 457 visas
Merv Murchie reported that, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald on September 12 by University of Adelaide Law School lecturer Dr Joanne Howe, 40 per cent of 457 visa workers are underpaid, not performing the jobs they are supposed to do or are no longer employed by the person who sponsored their entry into Australia.
Holders of 457 visas are being used in areas where there are no domestic skill shortages. When this occurs, dodgy employers replace Australian workers, paying 457 visa holders less and taking advantage of more compliant workers that is less likely to be unionised or to voice concerns over pay, safety and working conditions because of their desire to obtain permanent residence.
There is no proper mechanism for determining whether a 457 visa holder is replacing the job of an Australian worker and being used to undercut local wages and conditions.
The RTA calls on the Government to legislate for a 457 independent review panel to adopt a more evidence-based and transparent approach in determining domestic skill shortages.
Congrats to Dame Marie
Enid Hokin moved that the NSW RTA congratulate and expresses appreciation to Dame Marie Bashir for her 13 years of magnificent service to the people of NSW as governor of this state. During those 13 years she won the respect, admiration and affection of citizens through her humility and enormous concern for ordinary people and the disadvantaged, particularly Aborigines, while fulfilling all her formal duties as governor.
Donation to Mental As
Enid moved that RTA donates $200 to the ABC’s Mental As campaign.
Octogenarian Christmas cakes
RTA members receive a Christmas cake when they turn 80. Contact Therese Medhurst on (02) 9519 8609.
Allan West is the Secretary, NSW Retired Teachers Association and can be contacted on (02) 9484 5693. The RTA blogsite is rtansw.blogspot.com