Concerns over trade agreement

The RTA endorsed Ken Muir’s letter to the Minister for Trade about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, at our September meeting. Promoted as the trade agreement for the 21st Century, the negotiations are dominated by the corporate power of America.

Our concerns centre on corporate investment rights, patent rights on medicine and internet copyright. Pharmaceutical companies have patent rights over new medicines for 20 years, meaning we will have to wait 20 years for access to cheaper generic medicines.

The US Government wants special rights to sue governments for millions of dollars if their investments are harmed by a law or policy of other governments. Australia’s legislation for clear packaging on tobacco products, for example, was challenged by Philip Morris in the High Court of Australia which upheld the legislation. However, this has not stopped Philip Morris rearranging its affairs so if can launch another challenge in an International Tribunal.

Australia believes that trade agreements should be underpinned by commitments to basic labour rights and enforceable environmental standards.

Federation assists retirees

On September 12, Max Prince (RTA), Vince Ashton, Combined Retired Union Members Association of NSW (CRUMA) Secretary and Mick Tubbs (CFMEU delegate to CRUMA) met with Wayne Patterson and Jason Nicholas from Federation to activate the CRUMA website and plan a computer course for CRUMA members.

Call for aged care inquiry

The RTA is seeking a Royal Commission into aged care. It was moved by Shirley Bains that we write to the new Aged Care Minister, seeking a judicial inquiry.

Nursing home standards need complete reform so that inspectors measure outcomes rather than processes and that actual health checks are required to ensure residents receive the care they need.

Staff to resident ratios must be mandated to prevent understaffing. As a first step in its reform, it should be made independent of the government.

Release Camden HS site findings

The RTA wants the Education Minister to make available all the epidemiological findings of the Environmental Protection Association and Health Commission about the toxicity of the original Camden High School site. The families of former students need certainty as to the probability of environmental causes of their illnesses, compared to genetic factors. Ian Massingham moved that the RTA seek release of the findings from the Minister.

Backing for the ETS

Richard Fors moved that the RTA affirms its belief that Australia and the world are affected by human-induced climate change. We believe putting a price on carbon is essential to help ameliorate the effects of climate change. The RTA urges the ALP and The Greens to combine in the Senate to defeat legislation to abolish the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Demand for the full Gonski

Barbara McGregor moved that RTA write to Prime Minister Tony Abbott demanding the implementation of the Gonski reforms over the full six year period, particularly as arrangements have been concluded with the majority of the states and territories — an indication of support for these ground-breaking reforms. The meeting congratulated Federation on the effort it put into the Gonski campaign.

Cheap travel tips

The meeting heard from Karen Magee, National Business Development Manager at Diploma Travel. The company has offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Homebush and Rooty Hill. It has experienced, well-trained staff who can offer some good, cheap travel options. Karen offered travel tips and suggested mouth-watering adventures abroad. Her donation will go to Ronald McDonald House charities.

Discounts at WEA

Remember, Retired Teacher Association members receive discounts, usually 10 per cent, on WEA courses. If anyone has a problem they can contact Michael Newton on (02) 9268 7526.

Octogenarian cakes

Ken Muir needs the names of new octogenarian RTA members to receive Christmas cakes this year. Phone (02) 9660 0151.

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