Our AGM was held on Sunday 25th February 2018, all positions were declared vacant and apart from the Vice Presidents positions were filled un-opposed, an election was conducted for Two Vice Presidents from the four nominations; elected were George Perrin and Uwe Schoenherr.
We, as a Veterans Welfare Organisation have a collective duty of care, to ensure that we remain viable for the benefit of all existing and future veterans and their families. The point I am making is that we will need to look deeper into the future of the Train and its Welfare Operations. One very good idea is the grouping of different associations under their individual banners, but having their HQ's located at the Train.
ATDP ... (Advocacy Training and Development Program)
Last year I expressed my concerns about the uncertainty surrounding a new pension and welfare system that was to come into effect on July 1st 2017. This was introduced by a member of the ATDP/DVA; unfortunately the many questions and answers that followed did nothing to alleviate the concerns of our membership.
By understanding that the requirements of the ATDP was in fact a "Fait Accompli", our highly regarded and greatly experienced Pension and Welfare Officers took up the challenge and explored all the ATDP requirements to get accreditation for existing staff and future recruits.
Due to their timely actions, the conversion and accreditation of former TIP qualified pension and welfare officers has proceeded without any problems; If any member is of a mind to become a pension or welfare officer, please be aware that it is a simple online process under the guidance of a mentor.
I am happy to report that our pension officers increased usage of the DVA electronic portal, has had the effect of speeding the submission of claims and subsequent acceptance of some claims within a 24 hour period. The portal also automatically collates information that is required, and necessary, for our BEST FUND submissions. Currently, we are still preparing some claims long hand, which are quite slow by comparison to using the electronic portal, paper submissions which are dependent on the postal service, and, the DVA's subsequent handling of inbox paper submissions, is obviously the much slower option. This long hand method also affects the submission of our BEST FUND account as it requires a manual collation of data, which then has to be added to the portal data for a combined submission.
I offer my congratulations to our Pension and Welfare team for their dedication and professionalism, in what for them, was a trying year.
My sincere thanks go out to all members for your continuing support in all things relevant to the Trains Successful Operation.
In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended the AGM and re-elected most of last year's executive unopposed, it was in effect, a show of hands in favour of the harmony and enthusiasm that is quite evident within our ranks.
This update is to remind sub-Branch and Association members of the criteria for participating in the Sydney ANZAC Day March and provide some general guidelines. Once again it is important that this information is disseminated as widely as possible.
There are three ways by which an individual can participate in the March: (i) as an Australian veteran, (ii) as the descendant of an Australian veteran (iii) as a veteran or descendant of a Commonwealth or Allied force.
Veteran eligibility to march is based on the criteria to become a Service Member of the RSL i.e. any person who has served in the Australian Defence Force for at least 6 months. Veterans should assemble with one of the service units of which they were/are a member. The choice of where to march is a personal one however; it is recommended that those who served together should march together as an act of remembrance and mateship.
Descendant of an Australian Veteran
A descendant of a veteran can march with veterans as a carer (one per veteran marching), banner party or flag carrier regardless of whether they are entitled to be a member of the RSL or not. All other descendants are invited to march with the descendants associations in a place of prominence in front of the Commonwealth and Allies contingent. One descendant only of a deceased veteran may honour their relatives service by wearing his/her medals on their right breast.
Commonwealth or Allied Veteran/Descendant
Veterans should be clearly identifiable by their campaign medals and should be at the head of each national group. No medals or awards earnt whilst a nation was in conflict with Australia or the Commonwealth shall be worn in the Sydney ANZAC Day March. Dress should reflect the occasion i.e. traditional/national costume or dress (including headdress) is not appropriate.
Both the British Commonwealth and Allied contingents will form up in alphabetical order as printed in the March Broad Sheet and under the direction of the March Marshals. Displays of foreign national flags are restricted to 1 per group.
No flag of a nation that was used when that nation was in conflict with the Commonwealth or Australia is permitted to be displayed. Display of historical flags or ensigns of countries that no longer exist is inappropriate. Banners are restricted to 1 per group and are not to contain any political slogans. The display of photos or other memorabilia is not permitted.
Descendants of veterans are encouraged to participate to honour the fallen at the express invitation of the contingent leader/organiser. Descendants are to march behind the veterans within the national group. Once again, dress should reflect the occasion i.e. traditional/national costume or dress (including headdress) is inappropriate. The national group may have no more than 30 descendants of veterans participate including banner party and flag bearers.
Veterans who are unable to march should make use of the taxi service provided at the beginning of the March (contact ANZAC House for bookings). Standing in Army Land Rovers is prohibited. Apart from the danger, there are significant insurance and legal implications for the March organisers as well as the military drivers, who are all volunteers for the day.
The Sydney ANZAC Day March is not a parade and therefore no vehicle, animal, weaponry or memorabilia (including historical uniforms) may be included without the prior approval of the March organisers.
Escorts to Guidons, Standards and Colours; and catafalque parties may carry arms. Otherwise service contingents should only carry arms when specially authorised by the ANZAC Day March Executive Committee c/- ANZAC House.
As the head of each unit approaches the Cenotaph, hats are to be removed (by following the unit leader's movements or by order) and the right hand held over the heart and kept in that position until the unit is clear of the Cenotaph, when the reverse is to be followed. Heads are to be turned towards the Cenotaph when passing it. Banners and Flags are to be dipped. Defence Force formations are to salute the Cenotaph as they pass it.
ANZAC DAY MARCH EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
1 September 2014
Paul Manson is a former chief of the Canadian defence staff. He is currently the patron of the NATO Veterans Organisation of Canada:-
Traditionally, Canada's veterans have enjoyed outstanding moral support from a grateful public, in recognition of the nation's solemn obligation to care for those who have served and suffered in harm's way. But the veterans landscape is changing. With a steady decline in the huge numbers who served in the Second World War, today's veteran community is characterized by a new set of men and women whose military experience stems from the Korean conflict, the Cold War, peacekeeping missions, upheaval in the former Yugoslavia, the first Persian Gulf war and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, there have been significant changes in the array of organisations serving the veterans community. The Royal Canadian Legion, formed in the aftermath of the First World War, is still the largest and best known. Predating the Legion by many years is the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada, also with branches across the country. Another organisation, the National Council of Veterans Associations, brings together mostly 1939-45 groups, but it remains an effective advocacy voice. It also has close links with the War Amps.
The post-1945 era has seen the emergence of two peacekeeper organisations, namely the Canadian Association of Veterans in UN Peacekeeping and the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association. Then there is the newer NATO Veterans Organisation of Canada, plus a host of small associations representing specific groups such as regiments, naval formations and squadrons, which are primarily collegial in nature, with minimal advocacy activity.
Significantly, a recent phenomenon has altered the landscape, with the appearance of several veterans' advocacy groups that comprise little more than a website and a handful of officers, with few members in the traditional sense. Small as they are, these have dominated the headlines by virtue of a non-traditional, militant approach in support of veterans' causes, notably in the form of aggressive and occasionally vitriolic attacks on the federal government, the Prime Minister, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino and the bureaucrats of his department.
To be sure, the record of both Conservative and Liberal governments over the past few decades has been less than perfect. Our military's heavy involvement in Afghanistan obviously raised the temperature of the debate. Like all wars, this one took a toll on those who were engaged in the conflict, reminding Canadians of their obligation to care for those who suffered as a consequence of military service. In 2006, the government introduced a New Veterans Charter in an attempt to articulate this obligation in practical terms, but not all of it was deemed satisfactory. This dissatisfaction led to a comprehensive review by the Parliamentary Committee on Veterans Affairs, whose recent report generated mixed reaction among veterans' organisations.
In the midst of all this, the militants have vigorously broadened their attacks on the government, largely over alleged failures in the medical treatment and financial compensation of disabled military personnel, especially those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other debilitating injuries. They have also derided the government for having closed a number of Veterans Affairs service centres across Canada. Lately, their campaign has taken on an ominous political tone. With an eye to the coming federal election, these vocal advocates are calling on Canadians to vote against the Conservative government for what they see as its inadequate response to veterans' needs.
Many of today's veterans – perhaps the great majority – are uncomfortable with parts of this rhetoric, even though they agree with the need for action. One reason for the discomfort is a growing feeling that the aggressive approach may very well be counterproductive – it could alter the positive image the Canadian public holds of its veterans, and in turn influence government support for their community. More to the point, unduly antagonizing the officials of the Veterans Affairs department can scarcely lead to a productive working environment in the search for solutions to current problems.
In all of this, the mainstream veterans' organisations are becoming increasingly concerned about what is seen as an unhealthy trend toward confrontation, militancy, bitterness, unionism and politicisation in the veterans' community.
Part of the problem is that the proliferation of diverse veterans' organisations in this country tends to dilute their collective power and message. Each of the many groups has a legitimate role to play in representing its own members, but what's missing is an ability to speak with a common voice, incidentally reinforcing what has been a very sensible input from the Veterans' Ombudsman.
Recent attempts to bring the diverse traditional vets' groups together are beginning to show some modest success. But much more needs to be done collectively to debate the really important issues of the day, to decide on realistic solutions and to present these politely but forcefully. In the absence of such a process, the veterans' agenda will continue to be captured by the few who, by playing the political game, are seen to be risking the good name Canadian veterans have earned over the years.
The veterans' cause must transcend party politics and campaign issues. Mainstream veterans firmly believe that political gamesmanship is not the answer. It might appeal to some partisan interests, but only at the expense of broad public support – without which the veterans' community at large cannot expect fulfilment of the nation's solemn obligation toward them.
Connecting the Dots To DVA - Abbott's Welfare Reform?
I received an email the other week from a Veteran mate of mine who received an email off his Regimental grapevine regarding the vulnerability of DVA in the current political climate. It was titled 'DVA TO GO – PENSIONS TO BE REDUCED'? It was alarmist to me even though the thought has been on my mind lately. The email referred to public speeches by the Minister for DVA Senator Michael Ronaldson, Liberal Senator for Victoria, a former lawyer and been around Parliament since 1990, and Peter Hendy, Liberal member for Eden-Monaro an Education boffin with a guernsey on a couple of Parliament committees. Hendy was making lunatic statements in Parliament about dismantling DVA and Ronaldson trying to hose down the remarks.
I felt I have something to say about all of this. I feel strongly about the vulnerability of our Nation into the future. I have my own ideas of what's going to take place and I believe there needs to be a conversation or a discussion about the situation. I want to make others aware of what is really happening with the management of our country. My purpose for writing this is to alert the Veteran Community to what is likely to happen to DVA in the near future. The Government won't tell you anything despite their reassurances, and their track record says it will do anything it feels necessary. Prepare yourselves for change.
So, I have been sitting taking all of this in and wondering, 'How would all of this social change taking place affect DVA in the current austerity climate'? So in the past couple of months I have been keeping pace with developments of the intentions of the new Federal Government. It's turned out more than just interesting, it has turned out that this country in is an absolute financial calamity! I immediately started to crank over in my mind about how this calamity got to this stage where I believe DVA can be dragged into it.
For a few months now I have been listening to and reading the media trying to get a handle on how this new Government is going to deal with the many serious issues this country has. I am apolitical with this comment but both sides of politics come in for a pasting here.
Subtle changes with Defence over the years started to add up in my mind and now here we are with sudden clarity. The changes started about 20 years ago with the civilianising of the Defence Department when nearly all of the Military privileges were 'civilianised' into the same bucket as those who worked for the Feds and that is of course the Public Service dudes. A whole host of changes occurred in the Services. Civvies running everything from Messes to Guards on the front gate, to CO's of Regiments losing their perks like batman, flats, CO's car and driver. Everything from managing the food, to accommodation standards to travel entitlements, civilians were in place. The CO's role was to manage the Regiments finances and OH&S programs, leaving the operational side to 'Executive Officers' (formally known as your good old 2IC). Seems the CO rank wasn't high enough (public services entitlements list) to warrant a sole user vehicle.
Young soldiers nowadays are required to 'live out' unless they can demonstrate a 'compassionate need' or 'operational need' to live in. And even there, they have to sign a leasing agreement for their room with a civvy organisation contracted to the Defence Department. And the senior NCO's have no right to inspect rooms unless it's a periodical lease agreement room inspection. The disappearance of the Soldier's Clubs and the Sergeant's Messes and the Officer Messes were all part of the 'civilianizing process' lest the Defence personnel had more privileges than the Public Service dude that worked alongside of him. Defence bases now have all-rank clubs partitioned off into areas.
There were many many changes, and service conditions lost, which went unnoticed unless you kept your finger on the pulse. All of this change (and it is still occurring), is all part of the Master Socialisation Plan, including the civilianisation of the Defence Force committed to by both sides of Government. The object of course in the long run, was to save money through economies of scale and standardisation of resources.
The Prospect of DVA folding however is never far away considering its role and purpose in life, and that is to hand out money for compensation, pensions and payments for those who worked for the Federal Government and those being of course former Defence Force personnel. Other than that, as a TPI I have nothing to do with DVA. I have my payments and pensions paid into the bank and I have my Gold Card. They send me updates on my pensions and that's it.
If you believe DVA is safe from all of this social reorganisation, or your pensions and benefits are safe…read on. DVA is not an Island. This is another Government of constant denials and back-flips. The world champions of reneging. Abbott promised indexation to both the DFRDB and TPI pensions prior to election. Rudd and Gillard did the same. All of them realized they could not afford it.
Fifteen years or so ago was the invention of COMSUPER. A brainwave to consolidate all the Government Superannuation Boards their retirement, provident and superannuation funds under one controlling roof. All funds except that of course the Commonwealth Parliament Superannuation Scheme, covered by an Act of Parliament and administered by the Department of Finance and quarantined from public scrutiny. COMSUPER is another measure of controlling equity and parity of retirement funds. COMSUPER as you will notice sends out your 'income statement' from the DFRB/DFREB each year. If you have a barny say with DFRDB, you are required to apply through COMSUPER. As a worker for Veterans Advocacy, I mainly dealt with claims for retrospective medical discharge for blokes who later in life reasoned they should have been medically discharge. I dealt directly with the Defence Department. It has been due to those years that I have noticed huge changes from everything such as operational processes and procedures, to administration control by civilians who make final judgments on you, for whatever your complaint is.
What is Happening
Now enters the 'Social Security Act' or the reviewed amended Act which now underpins the new 'Department of Human Services', the new grand paymaster.
This new Department CONTROLS SOCIAL, AND HEALTH-RELATED PAYMENTS AND SERVICES. It is responsible for un-employment payments and all other payments and, with a little bit of remote viewing, all DVA payments. This Department now brings together all the little functions that other departments are responsible for, when dealing with people who need money. That is you and me folks. Much like COMSUPER, this department includes CENTRELINK. CENTRELINK works out what you have to be paid and Department of Human Services pays the money. Getting the picture? If you want anything out of CENTRELINK you have to deal with Human Services. So you can see where all of this is going. Inevitably, everything dealing with the public welfare system will be under the one roof.
When? They are working on it. Watch the May Federal budget. They will announce this term, but starting next financial year. That's my prediction. And if they do amalgamate Federal Departments, what will come into questions now are the equity, parity and equivalency issues that we faced with civilianising of the Defence Department. It would be naďve to ignore the possibilities of this new Government's ulterior agenda with their 'Welfare Reform' and their 'Socialisation Program' and their 'Industrial Reform'.
Joe Hockey has stated publicly that the 'Age of entitlement is over' and 'Nothing is off limits' (nothing sacred will go without review). Cuts to all manner of entitlements are on the cards. All pensions' means tested. People who do not need them do not get them. New eligibility rules. Hockey.
This concerns me given that our VEA entitlements are protected by Law. These political clowns will do anything to cream some money back. And that is to repeal, abolish, remove any legislation that gets in the way, and argue the legal points later. It's has happened before in our political history and you don't have to go back very far to realize that.
'Why' they will ask 'does a TPI get more money than a bloke, invalided out of the workforce and who did a similar job to the TPI bloke?' And so it starts. Folks, the benefits and entitlements we receive from DVA, are because of the many Acts of Parliament, which were passed to protect the ex-serviceperson and the Veteran. The compensation and the pension values however, were based upon those community industrial and employment value/standards at the time of enactment. Our compensation component is a consideration figure largely based upon the 'Civil Workers Compensation Act' on a 'like for like' basis. Compensation measured against a 'living wage'. These 'figures' were enshrined in the 'Repatriation Act 1952' and later in the 'Veterans Entitlement Act 1984', subjectively indexed at the whim of the Government of the day. Remember the 'Clarke Report' some years back? Your compensation package suddenly was described as being components of 'quality of life', 'economic loss – non- economic losses, the Gold Card given a 'value'. Despite recommendations in that report, little or no indexation took place. These components can be vulnerable given this new welfare review. Any changes will affect new TPI's.
Like I said before, the only reason these payment amounts are still there, is because they are protected by the Laws at the time of enactment. The Governments knew they could reduce these amounts by reducing over time, their purchasing value, and this is by reducing the annual indexation. So the payments shrink while the cost of living rises. Neat idea huh?
The Federal Government for the past twenty years KNOWS it can't pass full indexation on, because it simply cannot afford it! And Hullo! Now here we are with the nation in desperate financial straits, what do you think is going to happen? The Government cannot afford thousands of new Veterans coming onto the TPI list with the benefits we have at the moment. Despite all their promises they lie. It's all about votes folks. We get conned every time. DVA is going to be reviewed and audited for effectiveness and value (it's probably already happened under the new Governments Audit action).
The Younger Veterans (non Vietnam Veterans) have been engineered into a new Medical/Compensation/Repatriation System called the Military Compensation and Repatriation Scheme (MRCS) (2004). A product of the MRC Act. A scheme all neatly packaged up into monetary compensation, rehabilitation programs and pension deals which cut out at community retirement age. And that's when you go onto the old age pension. Not much to do with DVA, as the huge majority of their problems are already dealt with. They don't have many options at all. It's either DVA from the beginning with their problems, or… you go with the MRCS. DVA administers the MRCS
The Politicians are bleating about the future costs and obligations by the Government for those who will eventually come down with PTSD, and make them non-productive in an ever expanding National unemployment situation. DVA budget is around 9 billion annually, and at the moment, the Government can see gold bars on the horizon if they work towards getting rid of the primary function of DVA. Through the Commission of Audit they will question and challenge the 'principle' of payments against current employment market trends.
The Veterans Entitlement Act (VEA) can be amended, reviewed or changed to suit the Government's requirements. Let me tell you this…The Feds have over the past ten years or so, quietly changed, altered, introduced new paragraphs and sentences, altering meanings and definitions to already long standing Acts of Parliament without your knowledge. The Defence Act 1903 Sect (57) for example on the internet has changes in it that are contrary to what is in my hard copy. This section had to do with entitlements for the Veteran. These amendments have removed entitlements and quietly slipped through, and are all to do with increasing the Government's bottom line at the expense of the veteran and citizen.
I am not paranoid or a fool. I am a Canberra watcher, and I do have a feel for what these politicians will do, based upon what they have already done in the past. They have the power via the Commonwealth Services Delivery Agency Act 1997. This is the Act which gave the Government the authority to create the Department of Human Services. In doing so, making this Department, the payment agency for all things welfare and restitution. My friend Graham MacLeod in Perth, a legal person, delights in trawling through Legislation with a microscope and has provided this attachment:
Commonwealth Services Delivery Agency Act 1997
What does it all mean? The Commonwealth Services Delivery Agency Act 1997 is what is known in Commonwealth Administrative Law as an enabling Act.
It legislatively provides the lawful basis for the Department of Human Services to act on behalf a/those other currently existing Commonwealth Government Departments (to administer and make payments). The Commonwealth Government is working steadily towards achieving their long-term plans to amalgamate many currently existing Commonwealth Government Departments (such as Family and Community Services, Social Security, Centre Link, Medicare, Veterans' Affairs and a number of others) into one gigantic Department (the Department of Human Services) which will both administer and make payments on behalf of those other currently existing Commonwealth Government Departments. It is also one more of the many incremental steps towards the "amalgamation" and subsequent abolition of those currently existing Commonwealth Government Departments along with their specific Acts of legislation and attendant Regulations and Instruments in Writing.
That is what had become apparent to me and I began publicly warning the Australian veterans' community about as long ago as 1992!
... Commonwealth Government Departments are restricted by law to doing only those things which are enacted in the legislation which each Commonwealth Department administers? In plain terms, it means that if it is not in their legislation, then they don't have the lawful authority to do whatever it is that they propose to do or already have been doing (such as forcing veterans to pay taxation on their legislatively un taxable veterans' entitlements and DFRB or DFRDB entitlements). Without the enabling Commonwealth Services Delivery Agency Act 1997, the Department of Human Services would not have the lawful right to administer or make payments on behalf of other Federal Government Departments (such as the Department of Veterans' Affairs, etc). Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990 During 1990, the Federal Government did something similar with the enactment of the Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) 1ct 1990 (SEE FRONT PAGE PHOTOCOPY ENCLOSED). The Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1997 was also an enabling Act. The sole purpose of the Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990 was to overcome the legislated provisions of the existing Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 (SEE FRONT PAGE PHOTOCOPY ENCLOSED) to enable various Commonwealth Government Departments to share information from their respective Departmental 'client' files with other Commonwealth Government Departments (and so much for the Commonwealth-legislated 'Privacy' of the individual)!
GRAHAM MacLEOD, ADVOCATE
LEGAL LIAISON OFFICER
VETERANS AND PENSIONERS ADVOCACY
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 6992
Watch carefully over the next year or so to see if indeed we are in danger of having our entitlements reduced or frozen. Okay, let them roll DVA into Department of Human Services for administration purposes (and that is what we are afraid of)…but if they ever try to touch our entitlements, there will be 50,000 guys all reaching for their webbing and GP's and tin hats, for the march to Canberra.
I hope this article will raise your awareness and is useful to you, in understanding what is going on with the Government in regards to the change that is about to take place in this country. But more to the point, I can't see DVA escaping some sort of inquisition. It is how we as Veterans, will be treated by the younger generation who operate these departments that concerns me. Will we become just another 'client' to them? I know this, DVA always treated me with respect and dignity and I appreciated that. We'll see.
WHAT'S LIKELY TO HAPPEN
DVA will be put under the microscope of the Productivity Commission. Looking for savings through efficiency and productivity audits.
Likely to move all payment functions to Human Services. DVA remains the approving authority for Defence injury classifications iaw RPO and SOP's and current Legislation. New rules for new DVA clients. Probable new 'means testing' schedule.
HOW DID THIS COUNTRY GET INTO THIS MESS?
Anything goes in business. I don't want to harp on about our Nation's economy, but sooner than later our economy will impact on Veterans Entitlements. It's all a matter of when. The Government hands out $5 billion in industry handouts sustaining corporate welfare. We have the worst job growth in twenty years, despite all the hype about a low nation unemployment rate of 5.8%. This does not consider those who are not registered for unemployment benefits. And if you are holding down a part-time job for two hours, your considered to be employed and do not make the unemployment stats. Growth in welfare payments is unsustainable in this country. This includes disability support pensions, job seeker allowances, new start allowance, single mother payments, age pension and , the indexation of all of that and including the anticipated indexation of Veterans payments and pensions. Now Fair Work Commission is directed by the Government to examine the need for employee's penalty rates.
As I complete this article, the Government is going to rip money off the diggers serving overseas. They are quite ready to classify what's dangerous and what's not, what's difficult and what's easy, when it comes to doing your duty in hostile territory. Yes folks, remind you of something? Industrial community standards will now apply. Danger money for different jobs in different applications. Civilianizing military jobs, roles and skills. Putting a comparable dollar value on what our diggers do. All part of the Socialisation Program. Creating unique names and zones to apply their new service allowance rationale. Clawing back some of that money now that the fires have been doused overseas. Radical welfare reforms are happening now and the Military is not excluded.
This country like most other European countries, we have an aging population which is going to demand an expediential amount of care. It's this care cost combined with a progressively depressed economy which has the Government at a loss in how to manage the future. This Governments way is to rip money away and stop money flowing to non-productive communities. No more giving money to the jobless and non-productive. Politicians have failed to implement necessary policies in the past that prepare this country for the challenges we face now and into the near future. Now we have population ageing upon us, and a lost manufacturing base across many traditional self-sustaining industries to deal with. All of which, is now having an impact on our living standards. Rising living standards have now become suddenly unaffordable. Our Governments asleep at the wheel? The responsibility of the Federal Government is to secure our future. This country is now reduced to selling service orientated businesses, agriculture, local tertiary industries and digging holes in the ground and selling them. Foreigners buying our land to farm it themselves, commodities depressed by global competition, and our major trading partners' industrial growth declining at an alarming rate. The dumping of cheap imported food products and all sorts of even cheaper goods have led to the demise of our industries. There is no getting away from that. It was all too convenient for business to make a quick buck. But even worse is the dumping of cheap labour. Enter 457 visas. A program designed to destroy any kids' confidence and employment chances. A program created by the Federal Government at the behest of the Business Council of Australia of importing cheap poorly trained labour from overseas. This might be fine if you are picking apples, but not areas where skill is required, and where there are thousands of young people looking for such jobs. Industries do not train people anymore. They hire them from overseas. This is a situation that is seriously affecting my own family. And if you are lucky to get a job that will feed the family, it won't pay the mortgage because we have the most over-valued property market in the world sustained by foreigners allowed in, to swoop up all affordable residential homes
The Government is listing its assets for the Productivity Commission to tell them to sell them. Privatize anything that's worth flogging off. And you know what happens when public utilities are privatized don't you…it's going to cost us more. The Federal minimum wage is now $17 an hour. With employer on costs for employee super, penalty rates, compo and payroll tax, the average wage is around $50,000 p/y. On costs contribute 25% to the average wage. Unsustainable says Andrews. And now in this economic climate he is right. How do ordinary folk afford to live inside that bubble? Decades of all sorts of handouts and now we have become used to them. They add to our quality of life to which we are entitled. No longer. We have been eating the pie from the inside out. Keeping and enjoying our living standards whilst heading for the edge of crumbs.
By comparison the USA Federal minimum wage is $9 an hour with no employer on cost. It's no wonder millions of Americans live on the streets. But their economy has room to grow till wages get to $17 per hour. Our quality of life and living standards are headed for a sudden shock because according to some, we have priced ourselves out of world markets. Is there anything we buy lately not made in China?
Here we are today faced with economic remodelling as part of a continuing program of social engineering, where the whole of the community of Australia will find itself a duopoly of the 'haves and the have nots' this is within an ever decreasing employment market, and ever increasing trade deficit, and ever increasing national dept, and an ever increasing welfare dept. This country has been bankrupt since 1992. Fiscal, monetary and trade policies have ensured we remain bankrupt. And I am not just talking about money here when it comes to the duopoly.
It has more to do with having the opportunity to compete with others for jobs and security. Jobs which should be there for the people and especially for the young people of this country. Well, the jobs aren't there anymore to give you that security. You will realize that, if you have been following the economic track record of our successive Federal Governments over the past thirty years, it will show an economy which has been allowed to slide into oblivion for the sake of embracing a phenomena called 'Globalisation'.
And if that wasn't enough, they created 'Free Trade Agreements', and removed trading tariffs, and trade barriers, and dropped duty and customs excise fees etc. Suddenly no Australian Industry protection. Our way of life and quality of life started to slide. And look at us now. Didn't they realize the goods we were trading were not of the same value? We export manufactured products only to import vegetables? No wonder we were carry massive trade deficits all for the sake of friendly relations. If you have been close to the employment market as I have, having put six kids through school, University and TAFE in the past twenty years, you get pretty sensitive about a whole host of contributing issues which all amount to poor employment situations, with no real potential to develop or grow into a quality career.
The bottom line is our standard of living has essentially closed industries. We outpaced the world in living standards. Our economy is not there anymore to sustain it. The wealth of any country is measured when you produce something, make something, and manufacture something you can SELL. European countries went through this phase of industrial inactivity and were oblivious of the economic catastrophe around the corner. They went broke whilst blissfully unaware of what was happening to them. Then suddenly, realizing, they were unable to maintain their lifestyle, their country fell into an economic abyss from which it would take years to recover. These were mainly Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Italy and France.
When Xavier Herbert wrote his voluminous fictional novel 'Poor Fellow my Country', he covered a number of topical issues at the time (pre WW2), and a couple of those were Nationalism and Patriotism. It's essentially a story about the life of a young part Aboriginal boy Prindi from north of the country, and his journey through life in an environment of discrimination and prejudice by a Nation struggling itself with its own identity.
For me, the story hasn't ended. There is still the capacity for the establishment which runs this country, to discriminate, never mind your personal commitment, allegiance or sacrifices you have made along the way for this Nation. Herbert's analysis of the country at the time of his writing was about the stages by which we came to be the Australia we have today. It tells me not much has really changed, despite the re-shaping and the modernisation of the economy. We are still trying to identify since 1975 who we are, as a nation in a shrinking world, with a fading image of our Australian culture. All those industries our fathers created which influenced our way of life are practically gone. Gone forever. Poor Fellow my Country it is.
Where I am I going with all of this? Provoke thought and discussion My purpose in this article is to share my synopsis of how this country got into such an economic mess, and to argue that is due to our system of political representation, and the incompetence of politicians. This is not me winging or having a moan. Its three decades of Federal Government naval gazing and now we are in a hole. The polarized ideology of our politics has allowed the election of poor quality candidates and in many cases pure dunderheads, dropkicks and blonks to run this country.
I realize you have to run your country and manage its revenue like a business. And if you are in the business to run the biggest business in town, you would naturally hire the best brains out there to manage your Departments. So we end up with people who haven't made it in their own area of expertise like bankers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, academics, farmers, failed business people, ideological nuts and the rising stars of the Union Movement. If they were any good, then why the hell do they want to be a politician? There are some goodies in there, but nowhere near the amount of ordinary working people or former Defence people in there to provide reality and common sense.
So where are the standards by which we elect our Political Representatives? We don't have any. The Political parties do not have selection standards which meet the job description of national representation. I am talking about competency standards here. Standards designed to run and manage this country. You would not find any major Industry or Corporation in this country, in the same financial mess Australia is in now, and …survive. The average Joe-blow has got no idea of the economic vulnerability we are in now, and probably doesn't care. We have over time, been conditioned to poor performance by our nation's leaders, but apathy and mediocrity by the voting public has largely contributed to this landscape by our ingrained intransigent political divide.
So, we have the merger of the departments of Human Services and Social Services (economies of scale) a merger of around $200 billion, with the new welfare eligibility rules attached. And now, aggressive moves to privatise all Government assets. Let the inquisition begin. You will never get any guarantee or truth from the Canberra. They will do what they want when they want. 80% of the families in this country will be affected by this new social reform.
This mega Department will develop policy and social reform as it goes along. It's all about sustainable savings through efficiency, productivity and audits. And DVA administrative functions will be levered into the mix. Watch the May budget.
Thank you for your interest. It's your country.
Christopher Brown, OAM
Independent Advocate for Veterans Rights
10 February 2014
Every so often we are contacted here at St Marys by casual visitors to our web site.
Most of these tend to be veterans, serving members or families of these looking for assistance.
However we also receive a fair number of people who are web surfing to find like sites that can promote their cause.
In some cases what these sites represent is of little interest to us, but every so often we do get one that i think is worth promoting.
Is one such site.
Now this is an American site so I respectfully suggest that you speak to your physician or other medical practitioner before making any decisions on what you read on this site.
We offer it as a reference point only and certainly take no responsibility for what is written up on the site or for what you do with the information.
I do believe however that as we age we can do with all the education and help we can get to ensure our health continues on.
29 January 2014
I am pleased to announce that Ms Dianne Lindsay, the daughter of Reg Lindsay a true icon of Australian music has produced a song which she has donated to the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia as a fund raiser. The song is entitled “Living in the Shadow of the Horseshoe”.
Copies of this cd are available now at the Train. Just drop in and see Tony Mullavey or drop us a line on our email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can arrange to send you a copy. This is a quality recording produced by Australia's leading country music producer Rod McCormack. Dianne is herself the wife of a Vietnam Veteran. Dianne Lindsay and her husband, Peter Simpson now have a radio station Todayscountry94.1FM. You can stream this station on line from www.todayscountry94one.com and click "On Air Listen" For more information on Dianne visit her website www.diannelindsay.com.
There have been a number of problems arising over the past few weeks in relation to DVA Transport and the new changes being instigated.
This is not only happening in our area but right cross the Sydney basin.
The Train has been cataloguing these problems and called on the DVA to come up with some solutions.
The result of this was a meeting held at the Train on Thursday 5th April.
The following is a breakdown of the major points discussed:
- Held at the St Marys Outpost with: Greg Cant. Gary Fizzell, Sam Vecchio and John Foeken together with: Brent Morgan, Director of Transport (DVA); Tim Hollingsworth NSW Manager of Transport (DVA); Stuart Palmer, Chief Operations manager of Premier Cabs.
- Sam and Gary handed out a letter which had previously been prepared and sent to DVA Re: a list of the complaints received so far in March.
- Brent acknowledged that there were problems with the Transport system which is being addressed by DVA/Cab Company/Hire Cars and now with the input by the Outpost. Brent was particularly pleased that the Outpost had gone to the trouble of compiling the list and requested we continue with this task, it seems we are the only ones who have made the effort to do so, without this intelligence from ground level DVA have nothing to work on.
- The discussion was a lengthy one lasting over 3 hours, however, we felt that in the end we have achieved some outcomes, the DVA and the Cab company together have already begun to put in place some initiatives to address the complaints:
- DVA have a 1300 550 455 number to call. This is the only number that goes direct to the DVA Transport for bookings, members practitioners should be made aware of this number.
- DVA can help us to overcome transport problems if we help them by resisting the temptation to call cabs/hire cars direct and to book your transport through the 1300 number.
- We realise that many members have had the opportunity to call Hire Car companies direct and that in the past they have provided a good service, however, the system has changed and the hire cars and taxi company will be allocated jobs through DVA.
- Brent has assured us that if members use the system correctly, over time, hopefully within a couple of months the system will work more efficiently and the number of complaints would be expected to drop.
- Members & War Widows who live in outlying areas such as Warragamba, which are not very well serviced by Cabs/Hire Cars, provided DVA is advised of these circumstances, they will make special arrangements for these people to be picked up and returned home.
- Stuart (Premier Cabs) is putting into place a system whereby a fleet of trained and accredited drivers will be allocated DVA transport as part of their Corporate Client list, there will be times of course, where one of these cabs may not be available and the job allocated to a General Purpose cab, this would be unavoidable but hopefully rare.
- Within the Cab network, there are cabs on 'pirate' networks of their own, i.e. a number of cabs in phone contact and offloading jobs between each other, this is not something that can be controlled by either DVA or the Cab Company, however, should a complaint come as a result of this practice, the job allocated to the accredited cab would ultimately be responsible to answer the complaint and receive whatever penalty the cab company issued.
- One particular complaint resulting from our list which was produced for DVA will result in the driver that took the job, being reported to the police by Premier Cabs.
- The Hire Car companies are also part of the problem, apart from the Cabs, in that they too, are not accepting “Short Trips” So it is not only the Cabs doing this.
- We can all make the DVA Booking System work, if we work within the system, be patient; don't make private bookings direct with cab company or hire cars; document complaints and advise the Outpost; advise your practitioners to only call 1300 550 455 number for bookings; advise the DVA if there are any special requirements prior to pickup i.e if you need assistance or incapacitated in any way. This info will be passed on to the drivers before they accept the job. Accept the fact that you may not always get a Hire Car, we are interested in you getting to and from your appointment on time, with courtesy and as safely as possible whether it is a Hire Car or Cab.
- On the 3rd May we have been invited to attend the Premier Base at Granville to meet again with Stuart Palmer for further briefings.
- Brent has advised that as from May 2012 members will be able to book cars through DVA on line, practitioners who are registered with Medi-Care on line can already do this, however, many elect not to do so.
- From May 2012 a system will be put in place where once the Client has “Identified” them self and opened an on-line account with DVA, they will be able to lodge applications for reimbursements of travel expenses on line. (No medical or hospital authorisation will be required; however the trip will be cross checked against both hospital and doctor's bills requiring payment).
- Premier Cabs are also working on a new system that will allow the user to ring either the Taxi Company or a particular driver direct if the clients Doctors or Hospital appointment goes beyond 1700hrs when DVA Transport closes.
President St Marys VVAA
11 April 2012