Thank you for all those who sent emails and phoned to check up on me over the last few weeks as I have not been active with the Fair Go Campaign during this time. However, after six weeks of working continuously for 7 a.m. – 0.130 a.m. (18 hours a day) I just had to have a rest.
In addition, there have been numerous personal activities which required my attention, including my involvement in the 60th Anniversary of National Service Reunion, a visit to Melbourne, a visit to Cairns and numerous social engagements, including some at which I had the opportunity as guest speaker, to talk on the Fair Go Campaign.
Let me reassure you all that the fight for a Fair Go is not over, nor will it be over until we have succeeded in having the Government change the indexation of military superannuants' pensions so that they receive the same percentage increase as the Australian old age pensioners.
Obviously our concerns are falling on deaf ears and we continue to be treated with contempt by the current government, which includes the Greens and the Independents. Unfortunately our chances of receiving any sympathetic hearing are remote because of the carbon tax, the immigration shambles, the mining tax debacle and the leadership nonsence.
I can assure that OPERATION LETTER RAID was successful in that it brought our concerns to the attention of the politicians. While many of your letters were answered, albeit by staff with form letters, it was very disappointing to note that very few responses, if any, were received from the Prime Minister or her office.
Having just reviewed the Hansard record for the Senate meeting on 16th June, 2011, I continue to be amazed that Senator Xenophon, Senator Brown, Senator Lundy and Senator Wong fail to support the Fair Indexation Bill on the basis of costings, yet the Government readily finds millions of tax payer's dollars for other matters, including:
• $25,000,000 for the carbon tax advertisements
• $1.4 million ($4,000 daily to pay for cigarettes and tobacco for the illegal boat people in detention. (what hypocrisy!!) On the one the Government is introducing legislation to have branding removed from cigarettes packages in an endeavour to try to reduce the number of people addicted to smoking, yet on the other hand, they are using our money to encourage illegal boat people continue with the addiction.
• The Government may still be committed to paying Malaysia $300,000,000 which was part of the Malaysian deal to accept 4,000 refugees from Malaysia in return for 800 illegal boat people being sent to Malaysia. While this commitment may not have to be met, the real issue that the Government WAS PREPARED TO spend this money at the drop of a hat. This equates to 15 years of having our military superannuation indexation indexed at the same percentage increases awarded to our old age pensioners – estimated by DFWA to be $20,000,000 per year.
• It is estimated that $50,000,000 will be spent this year on credit card expenses, travel and work expenses for the Department of Immigration staff, due to the increased arrival of illegal boat people.
• and there are many other examples too numerous to mention......
In a letter dated 31st August, 2011, Senator Kate Lundy says this: "........I am, of course, convinced that the CPI no longer provides the kind of indexation that responds to the cost – of – living needs of this group of superannuants and pensioners...." in relation to DFRDB superannuant pensioners.
So what should we do?
• Continue to send letters to your local politician.
• Continue to contact the radio stations, particularly "talk back" radio stations to protest strongly about the terrible injustice being suffered by those who served our nation for 20 years or more, highlighting some of the points above.
• Stay in the fight even if you do not write letters, or contact the radio stations, maintain your interest and continue to inform your friends and other members of the community of this national disgrace.
• Raise this matter with your local RSL and submit a motion which draws this to the State and
While we direct our anger and our frustrations at the Labor Party, let it be clear that our main focus should be directed at the Independents and the Greens. Remember Senator Bob Brown, during the Senate debate on the 16th June, 2011 basically said that since the Opposition did not support his amendments to the mining tax, the Greens would not support the Fair Indexation Bill, completing his speech with the words "....So we now have a stoush between the Government and the Opposition which we did not need to have. If they had supported the Greens option, then we would have this Bill moving towards the funding that is required and the recipients getting a fair go. " How pathetic, you didn't vote for mine, so I won't vote for yours.
Remember also, at that same Senate hearing, Senator Xenonphon refused to support the Bill but he did recommend that the Department of Defence conduct an internal review, (yes , another one) particularly of the Defence Material Organisation , to indentify savings which could then be used to offset the cost of indexing the military superannuants pension in line with the old age pension. Senator Xenophon went on to say: "........I believe these savings need to be found quickly – say, in the next 12 months."
So we should be asking Senator Xenophon, what has happened to this review, has it started, if not, why not?
The Alliance of Defence Service Organisations continues to present our arguments to all Politicians. I urge all members to log onto http://www.standto.org to volunteer or to provide any other assistance you can. I would also encourage all our members to join the local actions groups and the State actions groups and you can register via the Standto website. It is critical that you keep informed of the most recent developments.
In just over four months, we have achieved a great deal, but it will all be for nought if we do not continue to be involved in whatever way we can.