RCB UPDATE 3/2019 – AND THE BEAT GOES ON

This is an Update on activities reported in Update 2/2019

Legal Conference

Arising from the telephone conference meeting with our barrister it was decided that as there will likely be a new Minister after the election we need to put our case to that person afresh before taking the legal path. This is because the courts would not take kindly to suing somebody who has previously had nothing to do with the decisions against us. To that end our legal team is preparing a brief for the incoming Minister.

National Media Exposure

In the meantime we are continuing our preparations with a national media organisation to expose our claim to the Australian people. No action will commence until we have a decision on the legal advice

Defence Force Retirement & Death Benefit – Commutation issue – A Summary

We continue to monitor it because it is a good example of the power of national media to influence the Government and we can learn valuable lessons from this inquiry.  The timing for the independent inquiry is to be decided after the commencement of the 46th Parliament. The so called independent body is to be the Commonwealth Ombudsman: this decision has been criticised as not being independent of Government.

That Moment of Truth – The Meetings – Update 1/2019

In that Update we reported:

“A week after our return to Brisbane we sent an RCB Brief of the matter to the Minister and Ted Chitham wrote him a personal letter appealing to his decency in decision making and the need to act. We are still waiting for a response for continuation of the unfinished meeting or a decision.”

Today (15th May 2019) the RCBRG received a letter from the Vice Chief of the Defence Force Vice Admiral David Johnston AO, RAN in which he thanked us for our correspondence: Letter of 5th December 2018 to Minister Chester, Letter of 21st February 2019 to Minister Chester, Emails of 26th February 2019 to Minister Payne and Sen Fawcett, and Letter of 22nd March 2019 to Minister Chester; and counters our claims with reasons that are challengeable. Again he repeats this sentence: “In the absence of compelling new evidence the Department of Defence does not intend to examine this matter further.”

Faced with this continuing avoidance to meet with us (refer to the 26thNovember 2018 meeting fiasco) no wonder that we persist with our claim to obtain justice through other channels

Thanks all for your support, suggestions, comments and donations: they are greatly appreciated. I can assure you all of the outstanding dedication of the RCBRG that remains resolute in its determination to pursue our claim.

Prior Planning, Persistence, Patience and Perseverance Prevents Poor Performance

Robert Cross
RCB Service 1973, 1974/75, 1982
RCB Group Leader
Date: 17/05/2019

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ELECTION 2019 – RSL NSW Veterans’ Policy Debate – 13 May 2019

This Federal Election Veterans’ Policy Debate between the Minister for Veterans Affairs, Darren Chester MP, and the shadow Minister for Veterans Affairs, Amanda Rishworth MP, was chaired by RSL NSW President, James Brown at the ANZAC Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney.

DFWA Media Statement – Faceless Bureaucrats Change the Law to Beat Wounded Veterans in Court

Veterans medically discharged, including all those with mental health wounds and at risk of self-harm, can receive an Invalidity Benefit from their superannuation scheme.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) taxes these variable payments as ordinary income rather than at the lower rates that can be applied to superannuation fund disability benefits.

Since 2015, Veterans have been trying to get the ATO to justify their position and advise what law they are using to treat their invalidity payments this way. The ATO has used every dodgy practice in the book to avoid answering the question.

In 2018, Veterans had the Administrative Appeals Tribunal consider this matter. On 1 June, the ATO’s case developed a “fatal flaw” so they requested an adjournment to “consult” with their bureaucratic masters. Although Justice Logan agreed to the adjournment, he expressed concern that the ATO might try to change the law to fix their case before the Hearing resumed.

On 7 December, two days before the Hearing resumed, changes to the law, backdated to 2007, were made to fix the shoddy ATO argument. In other words, the rules and the goalposts were changed at half-time by the faceless bureaucrats. But this is not a game! The men and women of the ADF are trained to obey the rules, even if it means they might die.

Politicians should not let faceless bureaucrats change the law to beat wounded veterans in court and no Australian should be at risk of having the law changed and backdated in the middle of their court case.

This should not happen to any citizen. Veterans have fought for democracy and the rule of law and call on all Australians to join the fight against this blatant injustice! There will be limited time after the election for the Senate or the House of Representatives to pass a Disallowance Motion negating the retrospective changes affecting the case being heard.

Read more on this matter, including what you can do, on the DFWA website here  or contact the DFWA spokesperson John on 02 5104 3106 or [email protected] .

7th May 2019

DFWA Media Statement – Recognition that ADF Members Deserve Support during and after their Service

The Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA) welcomes the Labor Opposition’s commitment announced today in a joint Media Alert of wide-ranging support to both the nation’s current serving ADF members and to those who once served, importantly, including their families.

DFWA welcomes the Opposition’s commitments on several fronts.

The first being the retention of a specific Department of Veterans Affairs. This alone gives credibility to the notion of a ‘veteran centric’ department focused on the issues of veteran and their families.

Second is the commitment to adequately resource the Association to enhance its ability to properly represent serving ADF members in a professional manner particularly at Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal hearings. Such recognition of its role in representing serving personnel has been long sought from successive governments without success.

Kel Ryan download 2019 05 09T190332.604

Finally in commenting on Labor’s ‘Employment Package’ and its ‘National Families Engagement and Support Strategy’, the National President of DFWA, Kel Ryan, stated that he was particularly pleased that ‘Oasis Townsville’, a long-held aspiration of the Townsville veterans community to have a single hub to which all veterans and their families could go, would be appropriately funded.

The ‘Oasis’ is a model concept that could in whole, or in part, be readily replicated in other parts of Australia. The concept is reflective of the collaboration that is possible between Ex-Service Organisations to not only help each other to achieve outcomes for a common cause but to have a shared focus on supporting serving and ex-serving members of the ADF by making the lives of these men, women and their families better, healthier, happier and more rewarding.

9th May 2019

Contacts
Executive Director:
Alf Jaugietis (0438) 282 284 www.dfwa.org.au
National President:
Kel Ryan (0418) 759 120

DFWA – Voice of the Defence Community

Media Release – Labor’s Plan for our ADF Personnel and Veterans

Labor has launched its comprehensive plan for ADF Personnel  and Veterans today, which solidifies our commitment to our current and ex-service personnel and their families.

 In the past three years, Labor has announced a number of policies which will overwhelmingly support both current serving personnel, as well as veterans and their families.

Today, we launch Labor’s Plan for our ADF Personnel and Veterans which includes 22 policies that will directly support current and ex-serving members and their families.

It also acknowledges our military legacy and once again expresses our gratitude for all current service and ex-service personnel for the sacrifices they make.

Labor has long said if there is more we can be doing to support our veterans, we should be doing it.

Labor will support our veterans through our comprehensive $121 million Veterans’ Employment Package – assisting those from military to civilian life.

We will also support our ADF personnel and their families through our National Family Engagement and Support Strategy and we are committed to ensuring DVA remains as a standalone department.

As the largest garrison town in Australia, Labor is announcing this plan in Townsville, acknowledging the pride of place this town has with the ADF and our veteran personnel.

There are nearly 6,000 DVA clients in Townsville who access support and services. That is why Labor has announced $5 million of funding towards Townsville Oasis – a veterans hub dedicated to providing the best care possible.

There is no doubt that our ADF is a unlike other workplaces, with ADF members not able to directly negotiate their wages and conditions with their employer.

Labor will ensure that ADF members’ views are represented at both the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal and to the government by providing the Defence Force Welfare Association with $100,000 per annum to ensure our ADF members have an advocate.

Labor is committed to giving our veterans the best possible support with policies which provide tangible outcomes.

One of the most important and urgent ways we can give weight and meaning to Lest We Forget is to ensure our veterans and their families receive the support and respect they deserve.

Labor is proud to deliver this significant investment to better support our current serving members, veterans and their families.

A list of Labor’s veterans policies can be found here.

9 May 2019

Bert’s Blog – ACT Election Forum and Matthews

To the Hon Andrew Leigh, MP ALP Member for Fenner, I wrote this letter:

In your response to my question at the ACT Community Election Forum on Friday 3 May, you made mention of the Matthews Report of 2008.

One of the more insidiously egregious statements Matthews made in that report was that military superannuation was ‘generous’.  

Given that you agreed broadly with my contention about the unfairness of some aspects of military superannuation indexation, I was surprised (nay horrified, as you saw) that you even mentioned this odious and now thoroughly discredited Report, ‘engineered’ by Rudd’s government.

As you know, Matthews was engaged by Lindsay Tanner, and he did his put up job for Labor well.  

Far from being  ‘generous’, military super has failed to to maintain the purchasing power of these prescribed benefit pensions in the manner intended by the Parliament, and properly expected as a matter of an ethical and just “Fair Go”.  Indeed, the only generosity in these schemes was the generosity of contributors in allowing their preserved contributions to be indexed by the Commonwealth at usurious rates, to the Commonwealth’s benefit.  

Furthermore, the Commonwealth, as the ‘employer’  of these prescribed benefit servants of the Crown, failed to make any concurrent employer contributions to their super funds, thus further denying the members the potential benefits of proper returns from their investments.  All that was far from ‘generous’. 

[This behaviour by other employers is presently under severe public criticism, and perhaps ComSuper and the ATO should demand that the superannuation guarantee must apply also to the Commonwealth.  (“Employers pocketing $6 billion of workers’ super each year, say industry funds.”  Peter Ryan, ABC News, 4 May 2019)]

Matthews was cited by both Labor and Coalition governments to support their ongoing refusal to properly index our superannuation, at least until 2014.  Abbott then finally recognised the failure of CPI indexation alone to maintain purchasing power.  Unfortunately, he fixed it only for DFRDB one of the now-closed schemes.

I was taken aback, therefore, to hear you repeat that name Matthews again.   It really is high time for both sides of politics to recognise and act to correct the continuing discrimination against some military superannuants, and confine the Matthews Report permanently to the dust bin of discredited reports.  

I would be very pleased to hear from you that Labor, at least, has now done so.

Bert Hoebee

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Invitation – Boer War Commemoration Service

Boer War Commemoration Service, Sunday 26th May 2019 at 10:00am at The Boer War Memorial ‘The Scout’ ANZAC Square, Adelaide Street.  

This is the 120th Year, since war was declared 11th October, 1899.

Gordon Bold Chairman BWAQ
Email:    [email protected] Web:      www.bwm.org.au

‘Fathers of ANZACs’, the legacy – Their sacrifice, our encouragement. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

Long Tan – Seeking Recognition

On August 18, 1966, 108 Australian soldiers were ambushed by the Viet Cong in what would become known as the Vietnam War’s Battle of Long Tan. Against all odds, the Aussies won the fight.

Now, the man who led them to victory is fighting to have his troops recognised with the highest honour.

The Battle of Long Tan, in which Aussie troops were outnumbered 20 to one, has gained greater recognition in recent years, but it wasn’t always that way.

The story of that four-hour firefight in a muddy rubber plantation during a torrential downpour will be retold in a new Australian movie, Danger CloseThe Battle of Long Tan.  Directed by Kriv Stenders (best known for Red Dog), it will premiere on the battle’s 53rd anniversary,  August 18.

READ MORE

BERT’S BLOG – Support for Our Veterans and their Families

OPEN LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, MINISTER VETERANS’ AFFAIRS  AND OPPOSITION SHADOW FOR VETERANS AFFAIRS

Recently, the Government put out a Joint Media Release about Support for Our Veterans and their Families.

Its final paragraphs, describing ‘an extensive record support for veterans’, are decidedly underwhelming. For example, delivering support for 280,000 veterans is nothing more than what is required under existing legislation; and improved processes and claim procedures in DVA are self evidently needed. Any Government that did not do these things would be derelict in its duty.

The statement it made that the Coalition is “delivering [its] $1.4 billion in fairer indexation for military superannuants”, if not deliberately misleading, certainly avoids telling the entire truth about what is happening with military superannuation. Assertions like these conceal the real situation, and it is disingenuous to make it appear to be otherwise.

The Release made no mention of any intention to deliver:

• a plan to restore a proper level of TPI/SR economic loss compensation payments. [It is reprehensible that this particular issue was not dealt with long ago.];

• fair indexation for MSBS superannuants also, [the now infamous ‘Ronaldson second step’ never taken!!];

• fair indexation for under 55 year old DFRDB superannuants, let alone anyone on MSBS;

• proper indexation for preserved funds in Commonwealth hands; or

• restitution for any substandard super indexation, dating at least back to 1990 for MSBS and 1990 – 2014 for DFRDB.

All of these long standing issues have a direct, incontrovertible and deleterious effect on veterans’ cost of living. They all deserve a very high priority, well before any consideration of expenditure on memorials is placed on the agenda.

And yet, neither the Coalition, nor Labor, make any undertaking in their election promises to settle these matter once and for all.

Is this really the ‘Fair Go’ that our veterans, like all Australians, deserve?

Does it really reflect how we ‘honour the service and sacrifice of our service personnel’?

BertHoebee 1

Bert Hoebee
Military Veteran (9 RAR Vietnam)

Warrior Poet – Faith in Tomorrow

In recent times, my talks with youngsters of varying ages in North Queensland continue to reinforce my views of their immense potential for future leadership.  However, such assets may be lost, if we, as today’s torch bearers do not provide leadership including moral courage, social discipline, sense of purpose and more drive to protect our treasured values of life.

We can huff, puff and beat our chests and rightly claim with much pride, past achievements of our nation, yet such pride is diluted when we continue to have politicians wearing blinkers, labouring with heavy egos, and racing in sticky mud behind the pack. Our youth need to emulate leaders who lead.

Our tough and determined pioneers reached their goal of unity and independence by achieving Federation.  Our beloved ANZACs, their sons and daughters and subsequent generation have defended such unity and freedom with their blood, sweat and tears. In my view, the bible they passed on to us of “duty, honour and love of country” is gathering dust, and thanks to politicians of all types, has been replaced by a novel, titled “what’s in it for me?”

Today, not only is there procrastination and apathy but a willingness by our political leaders to appease and tug forelocks.  Our traditional cries of “A fair go for all” and “We are as one” have been replaced by a new Anthem; “Them and us” while political correctness is demanding we say and do what we are told to say and do. There must be sound example by all of us for our youngest generation to follow and emulate. If we fail to set the right standards, then we have betrayed those who lit the torch, and subsequent generations who carried it.  Have no doubt, even our fiery torch without the right fuel will die.

Our leaders at all levels need to roll up their sleeves, use the right compass and once more find and use the track which made our nation a lucky country. The youngsters who will carry the torch into their tomorrow are waiting.

George Mansford April 2019

            

  ANZAC Spirits visit Saint Mary’s College

With pride and joy, all students in the hall shout “We are as one’’
Such a strong call reaches for the High Heavens where life begun 
Via green fields, dusty paddocks and surf where heroes once played  Past shearing shed, factory, office or mansions where they stayed  Then become faint echoes bouncing to and fro as shadows grow tall Suddenly a whispering breeze reaches out with ANZAC coo- eeee calls

It brings a message where the fallen speak with pride of you
No better compliment, for they use the term, Young True Blues

“Stand tall, stay together and help mates who are falling behind
To share with each other and knowing the truth, speak your mind

The best way to protect your values of life is never to ignore its rules
Truth, respect, duty, honour, love of country are essential tools

Set the examples for the next generation which will follow you Freedom of speech and action are precious gifts to use; not abuse
Be alert for evil which can slowly surface to erode a free way of life Your strength is to be united, all as one, be it in peace or strife
Learn as we did, of those before us who also gave blood, sweat and tears 
They changed Colonies to Nation, slowly but surely, year after year.”
  

The gentle wind pauses and a brief silence again
Then in the distance the faint sound of tramping boots reigns

Column of ghosts gathering at Memorials we hold so dear
Ready to mingle with the living at the coming of dawn does near
For a short-time, the fallen are home again; waiting for a new sun
So proud of youngsters who yesterday had shouted “We are as one”
C

George Mansford © April 2019  

AND THEN AT DAWN – 25 April 2019

                      Rain Drops or Tears on ANZAC Day

Columns of Spirits wearing battered slouch hats join us as we mourn Soldiers from some generations, long before were born
They watch as many wreaths for them are carefully laid
Listening via crackling, shrieking microphone as tributes are paid That is not the wind rustling as the bugle sounds
It’s our confused, unhappy, restless ghosts flitting round and round

The Brown Shirts of Berlin with different names are back again Scheming, heckling, bullying, and threatening is part of their game Masters of political correctness vilifying those with other views Politicians still planning for yesterday know naught of what to do False green Prophets guide two legged sheep towards a Utopia never to be
The Spirits whisper “what worth duty and our sacrifice to keep Australia free”

Disabled war veterans searching empty pockets listen too
While buckets of gold are paid to retiring Suits for what they didn’t do
Our sovereignty stolen, be it farms, ports and so much more, day by day
Free speech is the cry, but toe the politically correct line with what you say
Now it seems.
diversity not unity, is the strength of our land
What odds of foreign compass and our heads soon buried in the sand?

Ghosts of Pioneers mingle with our fallen and groan with disbelief Freedom with their pain, sweat and tears slowly stolen by a thief More sad news on hearing that many nursery rhymes are taboo
Like Hitler’s bonfire of truth, some of our books are off limits too Drugs, home invasions, carjacks and fear of walking streets at night Rhetoric and band aids with flawed scales of justice never get it right

The parade is over and the Spirits from yesterday’s nation fade away Australia bleats, as politically correct shepherds gather more strays Teams of coloured shirts gather at polling booths on Election Day
Free to harass, pester and lie to ensure the vote goes their way
Dark clouds rumble and wetness falls from a darkening sky
Is it rain? or angry tears of the fallen as they ask “why?” 

George Mansford ©April 2019