INDEXATION OF SUPERANNUATION
The Pt Nepean Community Trust and Parks Victoria are endeavouring to formulate a plan to both conserve the area and ensure it has "public" appeal. This is no easy task as "commercialisation" must be kept to a minimum, yet still generate enough income to "maintain" the buildings and the area.
The OCS Alumni certainly has interests in the area and is striving to ensure that our interests are taken into account, so that we can "gather" in our old familiar grounds for a long time to come. Unfortunately the Alumni does not (at this stage) offer any compensation towards the maintenance of the area.
Some members are at times a little critical of the recognition - or perceived lack of it - the OCS is accorded within the media of the Trust.
"Money talks"....!! So, how can we contribute?? Please enter into the discussions within the Forum, and let's see if we can be constructively critical, with an end to securing and maintaining our Alma Mater, for our periodic use and for the enjoyment of, and historical value to, the Public.
Remember, it is to be a "public" place.
In the meantime, The Trust invites our Members to openly participate and contribute to articles within their media, which includes the publication (in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format), "Quarantine Station". (file size over 9Mb)
Send articles direct to Jan McGuiness.
Government Changes Military Compensation Criteria
Reporter: Stephen Long
TONY EASTLEY: As Australia prepares to send more troops to Iraq, tens of thousands of military personnel injured in recent years stand to lose their rights to lump sum compensation.
The Government is changing the definition of "impairment" in a way that could deny lump sum payouts to people with serious back or limb injuries. The compensation overhaul will also affect thousands of other Commonwealth employees.
This report from Stephen Long.
STEPHEN LONG: Scott Sinclair was serving in the armed forces when a parachute accident changed his life. Five years ago, during the Tandem Thrust training exercise with the United States, he fell a thousand feet in seven seconds.
SCOTT SINCLAIR: It happened that quick that, you know, you don't really realise it until you've hit the ground, and then you think what's going on? Where am I? Went to move, couldn't move, and then I rolled around and then I crawled. I think it was about 3 kilometres. Took 'em five hours to find me, the black hawk helicopters came and found me.
STEPHEN LONG: You suffered multiple injuries?
SCOTT SINCLAIR: Neck, shoulders, hips, back, knee, ribs, jaw.
STEPHEN LONG: Mr Sinclair is pursuing compensation, and he hopes to sue for damages, but his prospects will be wiped out under retrospective changes to compensation being quietly slipped through.
The changes could affect tens of thousands of military personnel and other Commonwealth employees, including workers at Telstra and Australia Post.
And they've angered Vince Green of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, who represents injured soldiers.
VINCE GREEN: Oh, I think it's appalling. I mean, what's appalling about it is that firstly it's retrospective, and secondly they've stitched up the tables, to use a colloquialism, and they've written them such that was 10 per cent for many things, is now 5 per cent, and that means that you just don't get lump sum compensation.
STEPHEN LONG: To get lump sum payments for back or limb injuries, staff in the armed forces or other Commonwealth employees have to show 10 per cent impairment.
But Vince Green says the Government's new guidelines shift the goalposts, by changing the definition of 10 per cent.
VINCE GREEN: Under the present guide, to get 10 per cent for, say, a lower limb injury, one of the ways you do it is to say that you have… you can rise to a standing position and walk, but you've got difficulty, you know, going up and down steps and stairs and slopes. Well under this new guide, something similar is only a 5 per cent, which gives you no compensation.
STEPHEN LONG: Workers denied compensation will also lose the right to sue for damages, even if their employer was negligent. The changes were due to take effect next week, and they'll apply to people injured before July 2004.
Angela Sadrinos (phonetic) who's representing Scott Sinclair says they're a devious erosion of rights.
ANGELA SADRINOS: I just think it's the abolition of people's rights by stealth, basically.
STEPHEN LONG: For Scott Sinclair, it seems like poor treatment for someone serving their country.
SCOTT SINCLAIR: Look, the army's great until you get hurt and then they don't want to know you.
TONY EASTLEY: Injured soldier, Scott Sinclair ending Stephen Long's report.
And AM was unable to contact the Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews.
|9 Jul 2004||Transcript of the Speech delivered by The Hon Danna Vale MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs at the
South Australian RSL Congress
3 July 2004 for Defence
|30 Jun 2004||Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence Media Mail
HAND OVER SPELLED OUT IN BLACK AND WHITE
The transfer of Point Nepean to the State Government for an integrated national park was spelled out in black and white under clause 10 in the Trust Deed for the Point Nepean Community Trust, which has now been operating since early June.
Point Nepean will be transferred in as little as three years to the State Government provided Victoria agrees to accept the land as a National Park and can demonstrate it can sustainably manage the 65 heritage buildings at Point Nepean.
"Today's announcement is nothing more than a media stunt. If Labor was serious about the preservation of heritage buildings at Point Nepean, it would end the media stunts, support a good outcome for the people of Victoria and back the Community Trust," Fran Bailey said.
"Labor just doesn't get it. Today's media release does not have a single mention of the 65 heritage buildings at Point Nepean or the need to ensure they are conserved for the future.
"All along I have been stressing the need to conserve and sustainably re-use the 65 heritage buildings. We have made two commitments already, one for the establishment of a respite centre and one for a Marine Education Centre. What does Labor have against a respite centre for families of children with special needs or a Marine Education Centre?
"The Victorian Government is only interested in stunts, but not commitments. Mr Bracks has not allocated a single dollar in their State Budget for Point Nepean. Nor has he made any serious efforts to address his own Heritage Council's critique of the way Victoria conserves and manages heritage buildings. And he hasn't even bothered to take up my offer of a Parks Victoria seat on the Community Trust.
"For reasons beyond me, Labor also wants to walk away from the commitment for a generous underwriting from a Victorian family of a $10 million 'no strings attached' donation to the Community Trust."
The Howard Government has already:
* Established the Point Nepean Community Trust on 10 June 2004;
* Contributed $5 million to the Community Trust;
* Committed $9.7 million to the establishment of a Marine Education Centre;
* Spent $4 million on heritage restoration works at Point Nepean;
* Handed over Police Point to the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council for public open space on 24 March 2004; and
* Committed to handing over the final 205 hectares of Defence land to the State Government for national park.
|28 Jun 2004||
Letter Written to Hon Mal Brough, MP
|26 Jun 2004||The Australian Defence Medal
THE HON MAL BROUGH MP
MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT SERVICES
MINISTER ASSISTING THE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE
Saturday, 26 June 2004 MINASSIST 031/04
MEDAL TO RECOGNISE SERVICE IN DEFENCE OF AUSTRALIA
The Howard Government has today announced the intention to establish a new medal that recognises volunteer service in the Australian Defence Force.
All relevant approvals are now being sought to allow the award of this medal.
The Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, Mal Brough, said those who had served for a total of six years in the Australian Defence Force, regular or reserve, would be eligible and the medal would be backdated to recognise past service.
"The Australian Defence Medal also reflects the fact that when serving in a modern Defence Force, it becomes difficult to discriminate between those who serve directly on operations and those who support those operations."
"The Australian Defence Medal reflects the fact that by serving in the Australian Defence Force individuals make a contribution to the national interest, whether they served the country on operations, or whether they remained in Australia in a support role."
"The war on terrorism has redefined the notions of a frontline or even an easily definable Area of Operations."
"Some tasks undertaken by soldiers, sailors and airmen remain invisible to the community at large but are very important to our nation's defence. These may include preparation and planning, intelligence and, indeed, other classified activities that for national security reasons can't be recognised by a specific award."
"The Australian Defence Medal will recognise all of these circumstances of service."
Mr Brough said the Australian Defence Medal would be retrospective from the end of World War Two, in order to recognise that many people in the past had served their nation in a variety of forms, sometimes arduous, but had not been recognised by an operational medal. However, those who completed National Service would not be eligible unless they subsequently volunteered and completed the requisite six years volunteer service.
"Six years reflects a length of time that we could be reasonably certain that most people would have completed the requisite training and experience in the Regular or Reserve forces, to be considered fully deployable should they have been called upon," Mr Brough said
"We believe these conditions also give effect to a motion from the Returned and Services League who agree with our desire to further recognise ADF service."
"The implementation of the medal will be a significant undertaking and the issue of medals to past servicemen will take time. It is estimated that up to 400,000 ex-servicemen and women may apply for this medal," Mr Brough said. "It is anticipated that once a design has been finalised and the medals have been struck, the issuing of medals could begin around middle of 2005."
"Operational and other demanding overseas service will still be recognised under the current arrangements. Processing and issuing of operational awards will take priority as the new Australian Defence Medal is being implemented.
"Nonetheless, the Australian Defence Medal provides the Government and the Australian people the ability to recognise those service men and women who do volunteer and serve the flag in a variety of roles and are prepared, should the call come, to put their lives on the line," Mr Brough said.
Defence Media Liaison 0408 498 664
|10 Jun 2004||
THOUSANDS of Australian military personnel will be ripped off in retirement because their pensions are calculated using 40-year-old life expectancy data.
More than 8000 Australian troops face shortfalls of up to $3000-a-year ($60-a-week) because of the anomaly. That could land retired soldiers, sailors and air force personnel in a poverty trap because their pension cancels out social security payments. They belong to a fund called the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB) Scheme, which was established in 1973 and overhauled in the mid-1980s. When it started, the scheme used 1963 actuarial tables to calculate so-called life factors.
40-years on and the system still uses those tables, which calculate male life expectancy at 74.4 years compared with the actual figure of 77.4 years. Current pension data shows that a 50-year-old male has a life expectancy of 30 years. That compares with 23.13 under the DFRDB scheme, resulting in the $3000-a-year shortfall. For example, under DFRDB an army warrant officer on $63,822-a-year would receive an annual pension of $28,428. Using current data his pension would jump to $30,942-a-year – an increase of $48-a-week. There is another sting in the system involving lump sum payments. Under the DFRDB, military pensioners living beyond the outdated life expectancy tables are forced to pay back part of the so-called lump sum commutation, meaning the 80-year-old ex-warrant officer could be forced to repay more than $64,000.
Other pension schemes, including politicians' superannuation and other government schemes, use current data and are structured to protect members.
He said no other pension schemes use 40-year-old actuarial data.
The Government has warned the 8000 affected military personnel, including specialists and senior officers, that the Act cannot be changed.
Military personnel do not have the protection of a trade union and have to rely on government goodwill.
See discussions in Forum.
And..... here's the official DFRDB side (taken from their site pages):
The life expectancy factors used to reduce retirement pay when a member commutes some of their retirement pension to a lump sum are included in Schedule 3 of the DFRDB Act 1973. It is correct that these factors have not changed since the Act was introduced in 1973. The DFRDB Act does not currently have provisions that allow a review of the life expectancy tables.
The scheme was closed to new entrants with the introduction of the MSBS from 1991, and at the time existing members had the choice to either remain with the DFRDB scheme or transfer to the new MSBS scheme.
Example that shows how Life Expectancy Factors are used in the calculation of retirement benefits
The life expectancy factor for DFRDB entitlements is applied only if the member wishes to commute some of their retirement pension to a lump sum (commutation).
For example, the retirement benefit of a 45-year-old male Warrant Officer who has completed 25 years service with the Australian Defence Force and has a final salary of $65,418.00 is calculated as follows:
Uncommuted Retirement Pension = $65,418.00 X 42.50% = $27,802.65
If the member wished to commute part of this pension to lump sum then the maximum Lump Sum would be calculated as follows:
$27,802.65 X 5 = $139,013.25 Gross
This commutation lump sum amount is then converted into a pension reduction amount, which is used to reduce the member's uncommuted pension. As the member is 45 years old, the life expectancy factor used to convert the commutation lump sum into pension is 27.38.
$139,013.25 / 27.38 = $5,077.18
The member's actual pension is then calculated as follows:
$27,802.65 - $5,077.18 = $22,725.47
Therefore the Warrant Officer would receive a lump sum of $139,013.25 gross and a retirement pension (after commutation) of $22,725.47.
Repaying Lump Sum Commutation
There is no requirement under the DFRDB Act 1973 and no intention on ComSuper's behalf to seek repayment of benefits from those members who outlive their life expectancy factors.
Will the pension stop on reaching life expectancy ?
No. With the exception of invalidity pensions, which are subject to review, all other pensions are payable for life. On the pensioner's death, part of the pension will continue to be paid to an eligible spouse. If there is no eligible spouse, the pension will cease.
Discussions? Check out the Forum........
10 Jun 2004
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Fran Bailey, and the Chair of the Committee of Management, Mr Simon McKeon, establish the Point Nepean Community Trust by signing the Community Trust Deed (.pdf file to open, or download by right clicking and "save as") in Melbourne.
|19 May 2004||VA042 Saturday 15 May 2004
LABOR FORGETS VETERANS
Once again Labor has forgotten veterans, war widows and their families. Not one single mention of policies to assist them was in the Opposition Leader's Budget reply.
Labor's lack of policy and commitment to them, has not gone unnoticed by the veteran community.
The Opposition Leader has been travelling around the country for the last five months on his grand tour yet still does not have a single idea to offer veterans and war widows.
The veteran community has been tackling Mr Latham on what a Labor Government would do for them. All they received was the standard Labor response of deafening silence.
Unlike Labor, the Howard Government has a strong track record of action to meet the needs of the veteran community.
Last Tuesday's Budget included a record $10.6 billion for Veterans' Affairs and includes $328 million in new initiatives as well as the Government's $289 million response to the Clarke Report and $44 million for the new Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Scheme.
This is an increase of $4.1 billion since assuming office in 1996, an average annual increase of 6.1 per cent.
This annual increase is 50 per cent higher than what Labor committed during the 13 years they were in office.
The Howard Government has consistently focused on improving the living standards for veterans' and war widows through increased pensions and allowances, increased financial compensation for veterans with disabilities and significantly expanded free comprehensive health care through the White and Gold Card Scheme.
Not only has the Howard Government respected the strong traditions of Australia's repatriation system, it has developed a new military specific compensation scheme for the 21st century.
Labor is promising to reduce bureaucracy to fund their promises. Veterans and war widows are right to be concerned as to whether one of the seven government agencies to be abolished by Labor includes the Department of Veterans' Affairs, as foreshadowed by earlier Labor Minister's for Veterans' Affairs.
Labor claims to be offering a new plan for the nation. Well Mr Latham where are your policies for the veteran community?