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Threats to press freedom
The NSW Retired Teachers Association condemns raids by the Australian Federal Police on the home of journalist Annika Smethurst and the ABC office in Sydney in June. We regard these actions as anti-democratic and a grave threat to press freedom in Australia.
Efforts to intimidate whistleblowers challenge the right of all Australians to proper scrutiny of government processes. Our nation’s proud reputation as a free and open society is now being denuded by these outrageous police strategies.
Shirley Bains’s motion calling on the Federal Government to enact changes to the law so there is a positive public interest protection for whistleblowers and journalists was carried unanimously at the June meeting.
Book burnings and bans
Judy King spoke to members on book burnings at our June meeting. For centuries, books have been banned, prosecuted in courts or burnt, and there are even recent examples. Tropic of Cancer (Henry Miller), Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), the Harry Potter series (JK Rowling), The Call of the Wild (Jack London) and The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) have all been subjected to bans in certain countries and jurisdictions. George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm were both banned in the former USSR for being anti-Communist, however 1984 was also banned in the US for being pro-Communist.
The major reasons for book burnings and bans centre on the destruction of ideas, a suppression of cultural identity, control of information, and a ruthless enforcement of orthodoxy. Perpetrators have included monarchs, religious fanatics, political parties, judiciaries and dictators.
Older Australians require a single federal ministry
Our association is alarmed at the inclusion of aged care, sport and youth in one portfolio for a Federal Minister to manage. The aged sector of Australia’s population is growing rapidly so it is essential a separate Ministry for the Aged be formed to ensure the needs of older citizens are properly addressed.
In July, the Retired Teachers Association registered its opposition to the NSW Government’s proposal to raise the height of the Warragamba Dam wall. A raised dam wall would likely increase the extent and frequency of flooding in the World Heritage Listed area of the Blue Mountains. The government is urged to submit the proposal’s environmental impact assessment to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre prior to any final decision being made.
The Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association of NSW has written to the State and Federal Governments to highlight the need for medical and dental schools to be established in regional universities to ensure graduates remain in country areas to practice. The CPSA has also contacted the NSW Minister for Health regarding the current system where elderly patients are discharged from hospitals without regard to their need for adequate and affordable transport.
Retired Teachers Association members who are turning 80 years of age this year should contact Therese Medhurst so they can receive a Christmas cake over the festive season. Therese can be contacted by email at email@example.com or by phone on (02) 9519 8609 or 0419 157 342.
Have you recently retired from teaching?
The Retired Teachers Association provides an opportunity for you to maintain an involvement in public education and offers regular social outings to places of interest, exhibitions and lunches. Contact Federation for further details.
Our next two meetings will be held at Federation House on Friday, 20 September, and Friday, 11 October. Both meetings commence with lunch at noon followed by a guest speaker at 12.45pm, and conclude with a general meeting starting at 2pm. An organised tour of Elizabeth Bay House will be occurring on Wednesday, 11 September, and an excursion to the Anzac Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park is scheduled for Wednesday, 23 October. The Club York luncheons are happening on Wednesday, 25 September, and Wednesday, 16 October. Members should meet at noon for both events.
For more information visit rtansw.blogspot.com.
Paul Regan is the Administrative Secretary, NSW Retired Teachers Association
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