Four ageing issues for state election
Shirley Bains represented the RTA at the NSW Ageing Alliance meeting on December 4. The alliance identified four key public policy issues that all parties need to address in the lead-up to the state election in March:
Pensioner concessions and rebates: Maintain the pensioner concessions and rebates in NSW and expand eligibility for the Seniors Card to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 45 and over.
Accessible transport: Accelerate activities to improve accessibility of transport facilities, including train stations, bus stops, and surrounding areas; increase availability of public transport during off-peak periods, particularly in areas that are presently under-serviced; increase non-health-related community transport services.
Housing: With housing in NSW at a crisis point, the government must address the rising numbers of aged people who lack secure housing tenure. Older people must be given priority for social housing and a comprehensive approach must be made to provide affordable housing alternatives that suit their needs.
Experienced employment: Increase employment and retention of older employees in the public sector; work with employers to reduce age discrimination in the work-force; promote the introduction of flexible employment options for experienced workers across all sectors; remove the structural impediments such as workers compensation to employing older people.
The next meeting is February 5.
Concession policy demand
Richard Fors moved that RTA write to the Premier, Minister for Ageing and Leader of the Opposition, expressing its disappointment at the failure of the Premier or Opposition to respond to our request for assurances on the retention of the pensioner excursion fare at $2.50, water and energy rebates, the council rate rebate, free car registrations and drivers’ licences. Retired members of the community are entitled to know the government’s intentions on these matters prior to the election.
Enid Hokin moved that the NSW RTA advise the NSW Government of its absolute opposition to the sale and privatisation of public assets. At present, we are particularly concerned at the proposals regarding poles and wires, which will inevitably result in higher electricity prices for all NSW citizens. Apparently, the Premier intends to use the funds, which will be raised by this transaction, to build infrastructure. Mr Baird, the poles and wires are infrastructure.
The Combined Retired Union Members Association (CRUMA) discussed joining the ACTU Retired Unionist Network. The CFMEU is currently in discussion with the concrete industry which is attempting to de-unionise its workforce. There was concern that James Hardie wants to pay compensation in instalments and wants no more involvement in compensation after 2017. Motions were moved objecting to cuts in funding of the ABC and SBS, to The Australian’s condemnation of Clover Moore celebrating the 30th anniversary of the election of community independents to Sydney City Council and Jack Mundy for his services, and to the proposed funding cuts to the CPSA.
Mary-Anne Kestle suggested that members read Greg Combet’s The Fights of my Life; Ray McDonald suggested Matt Peacock’s Killer Company; these provide more information on the effects of asbestosis.
Overhaul of facilities
Shirley Bains moved that the RTA call upon the Federal Government to undertake a major overhaul of the administration of aged care facilities. While these institutions are staffed by poorly-trained, unsuitable and casual workers we will continue to see abuse and neglect occurring. It is essential that every aged care facility have at least one registered nurse on duty on the premises, both day and night, and determined ratios of nurses-to-residents should be mandatory.
Shirley Bains moved that the RTA reject any attempt to dismantle the health care system. There is room for improvement in the delivery of health services but the Federal Government’s proposed introduction of GP payments, whether $7 or $5, will not only increase costs to patients, but entail more bureaucratic red tape in its administration. It will not provide any significant improvement in health care budgets or efficiency.
The proposal can only be seen as an ideologically-driven attempt to undermine Medicare, which is regarded as one of the best health care systems in the world.
Rob Durbridge, former Secretary of the AEU, passed away November 10, aged 68. Merv Murchie and Enid Hokin spoke about his work, including his teaching in South Australia and NSW. Margaret called us to stand for a minute’s silence.
Report of visit to Armidale RTA
Twelve RTA members attended a meeting with Max Prince in Armidale. They run gardening and mural projects in schools and a report was given of a recent tour of a brewery. This year Armidale members plan to meet on March 9, May 25, August 31 and November 6. Max addressed them on the association’s activities and invited a member to a Sydney meeting. There was dinner with Federation Representatives, with guest speaker Michelle Rosicky, Assistant General Secretary (Schools), encouraging members to keep up resistance to government negativity.
The Australian Free Trade and Investment Network (AFTINet) was told that it is now five years since 12 countries began trade negotiations towards the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), but still with no agreement. The investor-state resolutions in the Korean and China agreements still have not been disclosed and these are likely to be signed early in 2015. There have been 11,000 submissions to the two Senate inquiries.
Congrats to Hoddinott
Margaret moved that RTA congratulates Dorothy Hoddinott, principal of Holroyd HS, upon receiving the Human Rights Commission’s 2014 Human Rights Medal for her support of young refugees.
Praise for Dempster
Enid Hokin moved that the NSW RTA congratulate Quentin Dempster on his stellar career of 30 years in public broadcasting, his complete dedication to and his relentless advocacy for the ABC, and condemnation of the Federal Government’s ruthless cuts to its funding. He did this right up to his own sacking, knowing full well that he was a target of the government, continuing even after his notice of dismissal. He loyally served the Staff Association on the board of the ABC for many years, until the Howard government got rid of the staff representative on the board. When the position was restored, they changed the rules to prevent his renomination. In the days after his sacking from the ABC, he mentored and gave support to other staff members, also dismissed. His final 7.30 Report presented a snapshot of programs he had presented from his early days in Queensland, up until a very recent program on alleged corruption in Rockdale Council. The final segment of the program was a tribute to all the people who worked on it — the film crews, interviewers, researchers, lighting and other technicians — all of those largely unseen people who had worked with him each week to prepare the programs.
The NSW RTA thanks you, Quentin Dempster, for your enormous contribution to the absolute professionalism that has made the ABC the most respected media organisation in Australia.
Visit of Darlington PS
Twenty students from years 1–4 from Darlington PS visited us at our meeting on December 12 and sang Christmas carols. We had a delightful time talking to them and each was given a bag of confectionery. Margaret De La Garde took the chair and welcomed us to the
Therese Medhurst reported that Margaret O’Sullivan, Evelyne Griffith, Frank Collison, Norma Hajevski, John Moon, Colin Flood, Elaine Borger, John Williams, Cynthia Brew, Janette Drobwell and Lesley Highfield were given Christmas cakes in recognition of having turned 80 last year.
Therese has achieved good collaboration with the Lions Club, from which the cakes are ordered, particularly with clubs at Singleton, Armidale Dumaresq and Winston Hills. Cakes were given as Christmas gifts to the following NSWTF areas: President, Library, Association Secretaries, Publications, Reception and Building Maintenance — in gratitude for assistance during the year.
Allan West is the Secretary, NSW Retired Teachers Association and can be contacted on (02) 9484 5693. The RTA blogsite is rtansw.blogspot.com.
Tuesday February 17: 12 noon: luncheon at 99 on York, 99 York Street, Sydney (planning social program for 2015)
Tuesday February 24: 10.15am: visit to Reserve Bank of Australia, 65 Martin Place (above Martin Place railway station) — talk, film, conducted tour of museum — followed by lunch