Are We There Yet?

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Its a fair question, and one that all Fair Go Campaign supporters must continually ask, hopefully followed immediately by, "what else can I do to help."

From the couch I introduce my latest VIDEO on the question HERE

The honest response to the question would have to be that we are somewhere between No Way and Not Quite and followed quickly by it all depends! Frustrating I know, but that is the honest answer.

Looking back on where we were with the Fair Go campaign when I did my first ADSO video more than a year ago, we have clearly come a long way thanks to significant contributions by countless supporters and the dedicated work of the DFWA / ADSO management team. Back then, most members of Parliament werent aware of the issue, and of those that were, very few had any real understanding of even the basics, let alone comprehension of the detail. Friends in Parliament were hard to find; leprosy was a word that regularly came to mind.

Today, there wouldnt be a Federal politician who is not familiar with the ADSO campaign; many may still not bother to develop a detailed understanding, preferring instead to perpetuate party political parochial propaganda\u2013 commonly referred to as PPPPP or P5! Motions and Bills have been tabled in both Houses of Parliament and many MPs and Senators have made speeches on the military super indexation matter. Whilst it is now abundantly clear that the overwhelming majority of federal politicians do now support fair indexation of military super, were not there yet and it all depends....!

Military super indexation (one of the four Fair Go issues) has been the primary focus of the campaign, but more recently, the restoration of Veterans Disability pensions was also emphasised because of its application to 120,000 members of the military family.

The ADSO objective remains for legislative change to both issues.

The strategy is to influence Parliament and inform the public of the inequities of both issues and to win public support to influence local MPs through the potential for ballot box pressure \u2013 the court of public opinion remains our best ally. An essential element of that strategy is to stimulate holistic Defence Families active support.

ADSO tactics have been a combination of direct engagement by lobbying Government and Shadow Ministers and all MPs and Senators in their electorates and with peaceful rallies (purposely limited in size) by our Action Groups especially in marginal seats around signifigant days in the yearly calendar: Australia Day, Anzac Day, Vietnam Veterans Day, Remembrance Day and on spec opportunities such as 0.1% CPI increase, Cabinet Community Forums, National Press Club lunches etc and media opportunities on radio, TV and in print where possible in Newspapers and with flyers and placards.

So whats the current political scorecard?

The Government, or more correctly, a handful of key Government Ministers, continue to cling to the totally discredited Matthews Report, arguing that CPI is the right indexation measure for Commonwealth and military superannuants. The current Government has shown no intention of changing CPI based indexation because, in the words of some, we are "receiving what was legislated", or that military superannuation schemes are "generous", or its "too costly" and is not in the "national interest". They have presented the costs of fair indexation in accrual accounting and fiscal balance terms that have distorted the true costs: they doggedly refuse our challenge to submit those costs to independent professional scrutiny.

The Coalition has pledged (in its first budget in Government) to introduce fair indexation for DFRDB superannuants over 55 years (excluding under 55 Invalidity and Reversionary Pensions). MSBS indexation concerns are also excluded from consideration in the first budget; they say they need to assess the Nations financial position before addressing any additional military superannuation indexation issues.

Hopefully you have seen the separate videos on the MSBS issue highlighting the shortcomings that disadvantage those more recent retirees and all current serving members; its a national disgrace. The Greens policy for fair indexation, although acknowledging the unfairness of the current situation, has not been supported by positive action. Their position is consumed by politics, not what is fair for the troops.

The Independents support fair indexation but they are restricted by their commitment to support the minority Labor Government against unbudgeted money bills and no confidence motions. Oakeshott, Windsor, Katter and Wilkie have all expressed support for fair indexation and they are trying to influence the debate. Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie have taken positive action with the Katter Bill to introduce fair indexation. The Greens have not been as active.

Where do the Media sit in all this?

I continue to be frustrated by the lack of meaningful national media support. We have had some success through building personal relationships with media personalities and this has resulted in limited exposure on TV, radio and in the online and print media. I am personally very grateful for that promotion and you can find many examples of that support on this web page, particularly from 4BC, 6PR, 2UE and The Punch.

Social media, particularly FaceBook and YouTube, have had an impact in penetrating our own defence family and the public, but we need to do more. This is the media of the future and ADSO will apply greater effort as far as resources allow. You can all play a part in this by spreading the word amongst your personal non-military contacts.

Where to from Here?

ADSO estimates there are about 200,000 members of the military family who will benefit when we succeed. More needs to be done to encourage them to join and actively participate in the campaign. Too many of the same few have been carrying the load for the benefit of all, and this needs to change \u2013 its time we all rolled up our sleeves and pitched in because I can smell an election not far away.

Sadly, at times it appears we are an apathetic mob with many who prefer to leave it to the other bloke to fight for them? The lead up to the next election will be a challenging time, and ADSO will need the silent majority to step up and support campaign activities which will be aimed at getting the message to all voters about the various Party positions on our issues.

The Action Group network in all States and Federal electorates needs to be strengthened because this is the key to local public support, and importantly, in getting the message out about the unfairness and injustice of current indexation arrangements in easily understood language. Once again you can all help in this endeavour. Noting that an election could be thrust upon us at any time in the next 6 months, the time is coming when ADSO will need to "Turn up the Heat."

How?

  1. Strengthen our lobbying activities particularly with the Greens and Independent Senators and MPs

  2. Continue to expose the Governments reliance on the "Dark Arts" and the Matthews Report as being fundamentally wrong, and their failure to adopt a better indexation measure as recommended by Matthews (Recommendation 4) as being callous. The current Government Executive have NO desire to act, despite the promises of some less-influential MPs.

  3. Strengthen our financial position with a call for donations and other fund raising activities. Proceeds to be used in national advertising, appointing professional PR consultants and other specialists on a contracted basis.

  4. Investigate the potential for a legal challenge to the Parliaments use of the CPI as the sole indexation measure to retain superannuation purchasing power. If a legal challenge avenue is identified then such a challenge, if prospective and agreed, should be launched depending on the outcome of the next election and subsequent immediate actions by the new government.

  5. Conduct a national poll and a petition.

  6. Strengthen our Action Groups by increased recruitment measures such conversions of subscribers to volunteers and direct campaigns such as Operation Muster.

  7. Appoint an investigative journalist to write on superannuation and disability pensions

  8. Video Interviews with well-known identities.

  9. Further Video clips on relevant topics.

  10. Additional flyers at appropriate times for physical and viral distribution.

  11. Increase our social media penetration and methods.

  12. Increase the incidence of well-planned and controlled rallies.

  13. Increase the Campaigns appeal to the spouses and veterans adult children.

  14. Other measures that may develop from unforseen opportunities

  15. Seek to use the RSLs network to promote the campaign.

  16. Maintain our non partisan position in the face of Government criticism and the criticism of some activists who want outright aggression or political alignment.

Please remember, DFWA and ADSO will still have many superannuation and other critical issues to address regardless of whoever is in Government - we must not burn our bridges along the way. Abusive e-mails to serving politicians are counterproductive to our cause \u2013 sure we all get frustrated with the intransigence of some parliamentarians; however, resorting to personal abuse damages all our credibility.

AVM Peter Criss
DFWA member

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