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THE

VOICE

OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW Print Post Approved PP235387100064

ISSN 10353615

April 2011

Winner of the 2009 Older People Speak Out Media Award - Seniors’ Newsletters

Bonds and reverse mortgages are not the answer! Make your voice heard! Send this postcard to your local Federal Member of Parliament.

Let’s tell our politicians what the Productivity Commission’s report into aged care will really mean for older Australians. Branch Members will receive their postcard through their Branch. Unattached Members will receive theirs with THE VOICE. Want more postcards? Call 1800 451 488.

FUNERAL INSURANCE

Peace of mind? You’re in for a big surprise

NO DOUBT readers of THE VOICE have seen and heard advertising on television and radio spruiking the benefits of funeral insurance. There are so many, from different companies, one would sometimes think there’s a station dedicated solely to funeral insurance. Well CPSA has always held concerns about funeral insurance but with the number of advertisements increasing lately, CPSA’s concerns have increased as well. More ads means more people are being persuaded to purchase funeral insurance. Over the last few months, CPSA has conducted research into funeral insurance, looking at how much premiums actually cost and how insurance actually works. The research has been 1

published in a report called The $140,000 Funeral: The pitfalls of funeral insurance. Insurers tells us that their premiums are cheap, from only a few dollars a week. That’s about the cost of a cup of coffee, one says. In the case of accidental death, the payout doubles or triples. There are no medicals and if you reach age 90 cover is free. When it’s put this way, it’s not hard to imagine how insurance brings you ‘peace of mind’. CPSA believes that this advertising is very misleading and is not transparent about the true costs involved in holding a funeral insurance policy. Unfortunately, as we found through our research, the reality is that funeral insurance can become

April 2011

very expensive, with many ending up paying far more in premiums than the cost of their funeral. CPSA looked at four different scenarios where insurance to cover the cost of a $6,000 funeral is taken out at ages 50, 60, 65 and 70. The findings were appalling. If the policy is taken out at age 50, it takes only 2022 years to have paid more in premiums than the insurance benefit. At 70 it would take less than 9 years. There is a very high likelihood of living this long, between 75 and 85 per cent, depending on when insurance is taken out and whether the person is male or female. In most cases, more than four in five people will live long enough to pay more in premiums than they would

receive in the benefit. If a policyholder lived to 90, when they do not have to pay premiums anymore, they would end up having paid between nearly three to nearly five and half times more premiums than the likely cost of their funeral. When a person takes out a policy at age 70, by the time they reach 90 they would have paid between $35,000 and $48,500 in premiums for a funeral that would end up costing about $12,500. Taking out the policy much earlier, at age 50, a person would end up paying, by age 90, between $110,000 and $142,000 for a funeral costing about $26,000. Apart from the staggering overall costs, another issue that worries Continued page 7

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


Letters CPSA Executive (as at 2.11.2010)

Grace Selway OAM President Bob Jay Secretary Betty Chamberlain Treasurer Bill Holland Senior Vice President Assistant Treasurer Sue Latimer Vice President Margaret Craven-Scott Assistant Secretary Edna Kay Publications Editor Barbara Wright Assistant Publications Editor Shirley Bains Marie Mihell George Ray Colin Vernon

THE VOICE

OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW

Editor: Edna Kay Assistant Editor: Barbara Wright Phone: (02) 9281 3588 Fax: (02) 9281 9716 Email: voice@cpsa.org.au Production: Charmaine Crowe & Antoine Mangion Printer: MPD, Unit E1, 46-62 Maddox Street, Alexandria NSW 2015 All content prepared by the editorial and production team with reference to stories on AAP newswire, unless indicated. THE VOICE CPSA, Level 9, 28 Foveaux St Surry Hills NSW 2010

Letters are personal views only and do not necessarily reflect CPSA policy. Ed.

Nursing homes expensive but their state leaves a lot to be desired Recently my mother had a fall in her backyard and was not found until the next day. She was taken to hospital where she stayed for two weeks before being transferred to a rehab hospital in which she stayed for another four weeks. While there she was told she could not go home any more. Also, after around 40 days in care she had to pay approximately $49 per day for her keep which is deemed as a donation. On finding out that she could not go home, which was very emotionally traumatic, I had to start putting in place a hostel-type accommodation. After a lot of looking and paperwork, we have a place for her with a bond of approximately $245,000. We have to sell her home to finance the bond. Lucky she had a $60,000

term deposit account to pay the deposit. The balance of the bond will incur an interest rate of 9.02% per annum compounding monthly until the house is sold. The contract says they will give you just 6 months for the balance to be paid before the interest is charged, but if the house is not sold I suppose you just keep on paying. This is over and above the bond fee. She also pays for her keep at the hostel at a rate of 85% of her pension which is understandable. If and when her house is sold, Centrelink will deem her assets, which does not count the bond, to see if her pension remains the same. If she has more than is allowed then they could reduce her pension. If this happens she will have to make up the difference if it doesn’t cover what the fee is for the hostel. While looking around I checked the prices at a hostel. A hostel room was

$395,000 with a deposit of $100,000. If this cannot be paid a covenant is put on the house and you pay 9.02% on the full amount which works out to be $97 per day over and above the bond. Plus another $3,000 per year for incidentals (whatever that may be) for as long as they live in the establishment. During my search I could have ripped out my hair in frustration. Being knocked back an interview when we thought we were settled. We had to continue searching, but she ended up at the place of the interview after being previously denied a placement. The condition of one of the homes I looked at was appalling. It had a shared bathroom, a corridor through the middle of the cramped dining room. The general appearance of the place appeared to have had no maintenance over many years. Stained

Donations, Bequests, Membership and THE VOICE subscriptions Membership is open to all who support the aims and objectives of CPSA -I’d like to renew my Membership or join CPSA as a Member and enclose my individual

Membership fee of $12 (Includes a free annual subscription to THE VOICE, valued at $25.00). I agree to be bound by the CPSA Constitution and uphold the Objectives and Policies of CPSA. I support the CPSA Objectives. I have not previously been expelled from CPSA or, if I have been expelled, I have attached a copy of my CPSA Executive exemption. Please send me information about my nearest Branch.

Disclaimer

I do not wish to join CPSA but would like to subscribe to THE VOICE (1 year—$25.00 incl. GST). I belong to an organisation and would like information about how we can become a Branch or an Affiliate of CPSA. (NB: Branches are covered by CPSA’s $10 million Public Liability Insurance).

No responsibility is accepted for the accuracy of information contained in advertisements or text supplied by other organisations or individuals and/or typographical errors.

I wish to make a bequest to CPSA in my Will. Please send me information. Name:_____________________________________________________________________________ Address:___________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________State:_____________Postcode:__________ Phone: ______________________________Email:_________________________________________

CPSA does not support or promote the products or views in paid advertising.

Payment details (for credit card): Visa Mastercard Name on card:__________________________Card Number:___________________Expiry:_________ Amount:______________________ Signature:_____________________________________________ Please send to: CPSA, Level 9, 28 Foveaux St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

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I wish to make a donation of $______ (All donations above $2 are tax deductible). Please send me information about THE VOICE gift subscriptions.

April 2011

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


Letters Regional NSW needs transport options Dear Nationals candidate for Dubbo Troy Grant, It was with a lot of bewilderment that I heard a promise has been made for The test which proves children to be brought by nothing I had a driving instructor take rail to Dubbo to attend the me around today on the route Western Plains Zoo. These kids apparently for my test the following week and am absolutely live in areas where your astounded at the way the RTA party needs votes in the west has constructed the formation of Sydney. I thought your of the test. It is an absolute party represented those in the bunch of nonsensical trickery country. How is it that $400,000 with little relation to driving. Like many oldies, can be found from the I’ve been driving for many evergreen money tree when decades without a single those who reside in the west accident in Sydney in heavy of the state have been denied vehicles and went through any accessible transport to a traumatic experience with attend appointments in the the instructor who tests the city or even to Orange? Those with cancer, same way the RTA does it. and many I believe that a driver arthritis, with a long, clean safety disabilities have to board a record should be assessed coach to travel to Dubbo and mainly on that record, not are so relieved to be able to connived trickery. If I fail board a comfortable train to next week, it will be the worst their destination. For years pensioners disaster in my long record and will place a heavy burden associations and residents on both my wife and I with a have asked for some transport high expenditure having to from western towns where hire taxis on a pension that is passengers are allowed to drink, eat and walk around inadequate. It’s a shame the Labor instead of being belted into a Governments have become seat. This is like a third so right wing. Moving away from their roots will be their world transport service. For years we have demise for a long time. The fact has been exposed about asked for some sort of rail the differences between the transport from these towns to record of younger drivers meet an early morning XPT and the older ones who have and return that evening on an proved to be the safest on XPT with adequate transport the road. I have avoided to their towns. It has been so many nasty accidents suggested that rail transport here by young careless and to western towns such as a aggressive drivers who rail motor be implemented. At present I note that tailgate you when going by the speed limits, honking one of the recommendations their horn and swerving out made in the “Country Link at tremendous speed to get Up” forum is for an early morning XPT. around you. This would certainly Eric Di Losa Port Macquarie, NSW be an improvement on the present state of affairs where carpets, chipped laminex and corridors that two people could not walk down side-byside. Absolutely disgusting. Name and address supplied

April 2011

one travels to the city one day, has appointment the next day and returns on third day having accommodation and travel and meal expenses of over $300. At least with this improvement it would only be one night’s accommodation, but why not improve things for those in the country? Even once or twice a week would be a wonderful advantage to the bush. Excuses used in the past have been lack of commuters, country folk out west would have to rise too early (to catch the XPT at 2.l0pm they already have to rise early as is the wont of country people), no money for more trains, but seems to be plenty for motorways in the city for which people are forever complaining. I have heard nothing in any policies from any candidate about this enormous problem and would appreciate your party addressing this. Joan Teale Dubbo, NSW No mandate, no privatisation When a politician signs and circulates a letter with a statement such as: “My position is clear –I will always support keeping the rail line into Newcastle”, it would seem worthy of a vote. However when the same politician soon after the election declares; “The people have spoken, I can ignore my pre-election promise”. This politician was referring to an Internet site where those who are computer literate can impersonate any number of persona. No statistics were provided stating that 100 people from Maitland said ‘A’ and 100 people from Morisset said ‘B’.

This brings to mind the “No Mandate no Privatisation Bill” floated by the Greens in 2008. The Labor Government asked the Parliament not to vote on the Bill as they had a similar one pending. So the Anti-Privatisation Bill was defeated by a casting vote in November 2010. Millions of tax dollars have been wasted in the forlorn pursuit of cutting Newcastle rail, dollars that could have been beneficial to the community and business. If politicians were bound to reveal what they stand for before the elections and bound by those promises they had made until the next elections, this contention and waste of money would cease. George Paris North Rathmines, NSW Parking and all that jazz Some posters to the online ‘illawarrarumournet’ forum are getting hot under the collar about parking difficulties around Oak Flats station since the new police station was opened, though I haven’t seen any complaining letters in the Lake Times nor the Shellharbour Advertiser.   What have the regular commuters who work in Sydney got to say about this?  Apparently nothing.   To build a police HQ near a railway station may have made sense, but not without adequate parking for both the railway commuters  and the police station staff and visitors. If, as one poster suggests, the NSW owned land nearby is earmarked for a court house, think of the parking difficulties then.   As the poster wrote – what a shambles! Penny Ferguson Berkeley, NSW

THE VOICE ONLINE: www.cpsa.org.au

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Letters E10 fuel and older cars My wife and I are both pensioners in our eighties and congratulate your association for the work you do for the plight of pensioners and the like. I am writing to you about the change in fuel we use in our cars and have noted that the change from regular unleaded petrol (ULP) ethanol-based petrol (E10) was to change in July 2011 but has since been deferred by the NSW Government to July 2012. The change nonetheless means that quite a number of pensioners who have older cars, including myself, which run on standard unleaded fuel will in time have to use premium 95 or 98 RON petrol in their cars. This will cost at about 10 cents more per litre as they phase out the standard unleaded. But this will only happen in NSW. According to Caltex all other states will continue making regular ULP. And I thought all states of Australia formed the one country. Why should NSW be different? Another point is that we are all asked as pensioners to keep ourselves active and in our own homes if possible which, as we age, we will need to use our cars much more to get about. This is particularly the case if one has a physical problem which, as if we need it, is a great cost to us. I was wondering if this problem has been brought to your attention before as I haven’t seen any comment anywhere or whether the ageing population should have had a say in this great change. John Webster Narwee, NSW 4

CPSA raised this issue in the April 2010 issue of THE VOICE. CPSA is concerned that people who drive older cars incompatible with E10, particularly people on low incomes, will find the cost of premium petrol another impost. (The NRMA has argued that the difference between ULP and premium is largely artificial). As this letter states, the NSW Government announcement gives a one year reprieve to those with cars incompatible with E10. BP has also guaranteed that E10 fuel is compatible with all vehicles manufactured after 1986 that have been designed to run on ULP. Ed.

$171.53 cost for a single because warnings of global pensioner for the March 2011 warming were not listened to. quarter. Government rebate If so, I ask why was nothing $36.95, GST $15.95, leaves done before now? It would a total government rebate of have saved us all much $21. suffering to say the least. When are you going Humans need to to remove GST from all change their thinking, give pensioners’ bills and give us more respect to all life forms more rebate in keeping with for a start. this cost? Up $300 a year? This unfortunate You are joking surely. mentality many have – ‘If it Many pensioners moves, shoot it. If it doesn’t, don’t cook a hot meal or chop it down’ – needs to turn on a heater and sit in the end now. I am led to dark. Is this what pensioners understand by the media that and seniors deserve? No. low-income earners are to be We deserve much better given a ‘generous discount/ consideration and respect. benefit?’ I hope so! But like A Telstra bill for one with everything else I have month cost $85. With a rebate mentioned, we won’t hold $15.55 and GST $6.54, this our united breath! leaves a total rebate of $9.01. Edwina E du Cassé Nambucca Heads Costs up with no relief Cost to change plan: $27, I write to voice my deep would you believe. Send a letter to Yes, pensioners get concern with those we elect THE VOICE to do the right thing by us a rise every six months. on the following facts. The Services and costs have gone cost of living, GST, services up before we even get this and bills have gotten out of so-called increase which is not enough in reality to cover control. It’s ridiculous. There’s been no pensioners’ living costs. Why pensioner rebate increase do battling pensioners pay By mail to: for Council rates for GST on our bills at all? THE VOICE, CPSA Why don’t you, Level 9, 28 Foveaux St approximately 20 years. A single pensioner living in a 1 politicians, try to survive on Surry Hills NSW 2010 bed unit pays over $1,200 per a pension? For a year? You expect us to! May I remind or by email to: year (and rising). Recently our you we don’t work for you. voice@cpsa.org.au Council approached the You are supposed to work in NSW Government for our best interests. I thought You must include your considerations for a much we lived in a democracy. name and suburb or needed rebate increase for Seems I was wrong. town for the letter to be The disastrous events published. Letters may rates. (I feel this is well Australia and the world have be edited for length and overdue.) They were refused by experienced some say are clarity. the Hon Barbara Perry MP. Flu Vaccinations Why is there no increase? NSW Health recommends the annual seasonal influenza Don’t you all feel it’s (flu) vaccination for any person aged 6 months and over overdue?! I hope the Hon who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with Barbara Perry gets our influenza. Council bills to pay. Under the National Influenza Vaccination Program, Regarding electricity, free seasonal influenza vaccine* is available for some would those who sold people including all individuals aged 65 years and older, Country Energy pay our individuals aged 6 months and over with certain medical bills! Charges up and going conditions, pregnant women and Aboriginal and Torres further. We entrusted those Strait Islander peoples aged 15 years and older. *Some immunisation providers may charge a in authority to fix the ailing electrical system before now. consultation fee for giving the influenza vaccine.

April 2011

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


Members’ page THE e-VOICE is available to view on the internet at www.cpsa.org.au/evoice.html CPSA Merchandise Badges Membership Title Bar* + pendant Title Bar Pendant (*except Welfare Officer Asst Soc. Sec.) Cards Membership Waratah card Card wallet Certificate (80/90 years/Appreciation) Emergency medical information book Leather key ring Letter opener: silver or gold Tea caddy spoon

$3.60 $9.00 $5.00 $4.00 $10.15 $16.15 $0.10 $1.00 $3.30 $1.10 $2.00 $5.50 $10.00 $4.40

Garden of Remembrance Olga McGee, long-time Member of Budgewoi CPSA passed away on 25th January 2011. She had her favourite spot to sit at meetings and will be very much missed. Riverlands Area Council notes the sad loss of two longstanding Life Members, Pat Singh and Jenny Toon. Both will be missed very much. Daisy Tyndall of Penrith Seniors & Pensioners Club Inc. was a valued Member since 1989, and volunteered in the kitchen for many years. She loved to entertain us with song and dance and was very proud to still dance ‘The Charleston’ in her 90s. Daisy passed away on 14th January 2011, aged 97 years. She was well loved and is sadly missed by all. Regular contributor to THE VOICE, Joan Vaughan-Taylor passed away on 20 February 2011. She will be sadly missed.

Head Office News

~ Rest In Peace ~

Head Office News is sent to all Branch Secretaries, Presidents and Treasurers with the instruction to read it aloud to the Branch meeting. Every Branch Member is entitled to receive a copy. If you would like a copy and do not currently receive one, please call Head Office on 1800 451 488 and we will add your name to the distribution list.

New CPSA Bookmarks

New CPSA Branch welcoming Members A new Branch of CPSA has opened. The Foveaux Street Branch meets to discuss CPSA policy and campaigns at 10am on the second Friday of the month at CPSA Head Office (Level 9, 28 Foveaux St, Surry Hills). If you are interested in participating, please call CPSA on 1800 451 488.

Crossword

Across

Down

1. Excitingly 8. With this 9. Dignified 10. Carrier of genetic info 11. Cain’s brother 12. Develop 14. Buy 17. Navels 20. Implants 23. Spoken, verbal 24. Non-religiousness 25. Aflame 26. Meadows 27. Brolly-holder (8,5)

1. Skate (3,4) 2. Tremulous effect in music 3. Thick-skinned, horned animals 4. Head of teaching institution (6,9) 5. Publication, edition 6. Giant slain by David 7. Wails, grumbles 13. Taxi 15. Enrols again 16. Beer 18. African stork 19. Sick sheep (3,4) 21. ... Triangle, where ships etc. disappeared 22. Climb down 24. Citizen of Stockholm

Answers on back page April 2011

CPSA now has bookmarks with the CPSA logo in colour to celebrate CPSA’s 80 years of service since 1931. If your Branch would like to receive some, particularly for promotion purposes, please call Kate on 1800 451 488.

Donations CPSA is grateful for all donations. Due to lack of space, the following only includes donations above $35. O. Gumb $50.00 P. Lenton $50.00 R. McFadyen $50.00 Warilla & District Combined Pensioners Welfare Association $100.00

by Hilda Thorburn

THE VOICE ONLINE: www.cpsa.org.au

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CPSA Member Benefit

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April 2011

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


Funeral Insurance Get your copy of CPSA’s report into funeral insurance The $140,000 Funeral: The pitfalls of funeral insurance Visit www.cpsa.org.au or call 1800 451 488 for a hard copy From page 1 fortnight in premiums. That’s payable and all premiums in their funeral insurance

CPSA is the way premiums increase. Every year premiums increase to factor in inflation and the policyholder’s age. So not only do premiums increase annually, the increases get larger and larger. And they do so at a time when people tend to become more reliant on less money and on the pension as their primary source of income. For example, a 75-year-old who has held a policy for 10 years will be paying around $55 a

approximately 8% of the full rate Age Pension. What’s worse is that premiums will continue to increase for another 14 years. If you choose a policy that doesn’t increase the cost of premiums, the value of your benefit will immediately begin to erode because it stays the same and doesn’t keep up with inflation. Furthermore, if a person is unable to pay their premiums, their policy is cancelled. Regardless of how much they have paid in premiums, no benefit is

paid will be ‘lost’. There is no savings mechanism as in other products such as funeral bonds and prepaid funerals. When the real facts and figures of funeral insurance are shown, it’s hard to imagine how any policyholder can have “peace of mind”. All they will think about as they get older is how much they’ve paid, how much they still need to pay and how they’re going to afford it. CPSA has heard from people who have felt trapped

policy. They know they’ve paid a lot more than they had originally expected. They also know they will have to find more money to keep paying because if they don’t, all the money they’ve paid will be for nothing. CPSA is urging people not to get caught by the slick advertising. Look deeper to consider whether funeral insurance is really your best option. Funeral bonds and prepaid funerals are both safe and secure ways of funding the costs of a funeral, where the money that is put in goes directly towards the funeral expenses. The last thing we want to see is people ending up in financial hardship in their attempts to pay for their funeral. Funeral Insurance Costs

The graphs on the left show the cost of funeral insurance for $6,000 cover.

Funeral insurance costs from age 50 when premiums are paid for $6,000 cover

Funeral insurance costs from age 70 when premiums are paid for $6,000 cover April 2011

Premiums paid from age 50: - Premiums will cost $109,932 to $142,405 by age 90; - The Benefit will be $31,520 to $40,299 at age 90 on; - A funeral will likely cost $26,162 after 3.75% p.a. cost increases; - $6,000 will be worth $18,108 by this time after inflation of 2.8%; and - Premiums will cost more than the benefit by age 71. Premiums paid from age 70: - Premiums will cost $35,601 to $48,471 by age 90; - The benefit will be $11,880 to $15,162 at age 90 on; - A funeral will likely cost $12,529 after 3.75% p.a. cost increases; - $6,000 will be worth $10,424 by this time after inflation of 2.8%; and - Premiums will cost more than the benefit by age 78.

THE VOICE ONLINE: www.cpsa.org.au

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Energy Marketers Know your rights. Know what to expect

IN NSW, electricity and gas customers can choose to receive their energy supply from their area’s standard retailer, with a standard contract, or take up another offer with another retailer. With the privatisation of NSW’s state-owned energy retailers, competition is expected to increase. This doesn’t mean customers are going to get any real benefits and community organisations like CPSA are worried that in many cases people will be worse off. The Energy and Water Ombudsman of NSW (EWON) has put together information to better assist in understanding your rights with energy marketers. For complaints or further information call EWON on 1800 246 545. Questions to ask, things to consider If you are approached by a marketer, remember that you don’t have to sign or agree to an offer there and then and you will continue to receive your energy supply even if you don’t sign up. If you are interested in an offer being made, take your time to consider it carefully. Here are things to consider or ask: - What prices will I pay for electricity or gas usage? - What is the daily service charge? - Is the electricity charge a Time of Use Tariff or a standard tariff? - How often will I receive a bill? - How do they accept payment? - How long is the contract for? Will I pay an early termination fee for ending the contract early? - What are the terms and conditions of agreeing to the contract? - What are all the fees and charges possible? Contracts can include charges for not paying by direct debit, or for special meter readings. Fees can be charged for switching or moving home. - What happens if I cannot pay a bill? What assistance measures do you have in place? - Is the special discount really a special discount? Some retailers offer a discount if you pay on time. However, their original charges are higher which means you receive no real discount at all. Others offer genuine discounts, so be careful. - How is the Energy Rebate applied? Some may apply the Rebate in different intervals which may affect your finances. Marketers Whether by phone or door-to-door, marketers selling energy contracts must abide by the Marketing Code of Conduct. They must: - produce a photo identification card with their full name and who they work for; - tell you the reason for their visit or phone call; - tell you about the ten-day cooling off period which allows you to cancel the contract if you change your mind; - explain any fees and charges, including for early contract termination; - fully explain the terms and conditions before asking you to agree to a contract; and - leave your home or end the phone call immediately when you ask them to do so. They must not: - engage in misleading or deceptive conduct; - contact you outside 9am to 6pm weekdays, outside 9am to 5pm Saturdays, or anytime on Sundays; - contact you within 30 days of saying you don’t want a contract; and - contact you at all if you have asked them not to beforehand. Compare your energy bills The NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal can now help you compare the cost of energy between energy retailers. You can use the calculator by visiting www.myenergyoffers. nsw.gov.au or by calling 1300 136 888. Have a recent electricity and/or gas bill handy to make results more accurate. 8

April 2011

False and Misleading Marketing Beware of false and misleading information from marketers. EWON has heard complaints of marketers using the following techniques: “You must sign this to receive your pensioner rebate.” FALSE “Your usual company is going out of business and you need to sign with us or your power will be disconnected.” FALSE “I’ve been sent by the Government.” FALSE “You must show me your electricity and gas bills.” MISLEADING “Please sign here to indicate I’ve spoken to you.” MISLEADING “My company is just your current company by a different name.” FALSE “You have to sign now.” FALSE Some telephone marketers will ask questions that will have the person agree to a contract offer without being aware that they are doing so. The questions can sound like the marketer is proposing a good idea but are in fact asked to get the person to agree to a contract. Make sure to inform the marketer that you’ll only give explicit consent to an offer. Remember, the only time you need to sign something is if you explicitly agree to the contract offered. Your power won’t be disconnected and nothing will change if you don’t sign. If you sign a contract and change your mind, you have a ten day cooling-off period to cancel the contract without penalty. This can be done in writing or over the phone. Other major concerns Marketing to others in your household If someone in your household agrees to a contract this may cancel your account with your existing retailer, even if the person is does not have permission to make such decisions. If this happens without your consent, you can ask for it to be cancelled. If you have problems call EWON for assistance. Advocates, Carers and Powers of Attorney Even if you have responsibility for managing another person’s affairs, a marketer may set up a contract with that person’s consent. If you later contact the company and explain your role and they decline to cancel the contract, contact EWON for assistance.

Want to avoid marketers? To avoid telemarketing calls, you can register your fixed line, mobile phone and fax numbers on the Do Not Call Register by calling 1300 792 958 or visiting www.donotcall. gov.au . This is a free service. You should not receive telemarketing calls more than 30 days after registering. If you do, call the Do Not Call Register phone number to make a complaint. To avoid door-to-door marketers, clearly display a sign saying ‘No Marketers’. The Energy Marketing Code of Conduct ensures that marketers must abide by such signs. If you have a sign displayed and marketers visit your home, contact the company immediately or call EWON.

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


CPSA Campaigns Centrelink’s review system cops a scathing review IN A scathing analysis by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Centrelink’s internal review and appeals scheme has fallen short of being “legally sound, efficient and effective”. The National Welfare Rights Network (NWRN) welcomed the Ombudsman’s report and criticisms. Centrelink’s internal review and appeals system provides recipients of Centrelink payments the right to a review of Centrelink decisions about things such as payments and debts by an Authorised Review Officer (ARO). Reviews can also be made by the staff member who made the original decision or other Centrelink staff members and, according to the Ombudsman, Centrelink relies “on an assumption that applicants accepting one of these reviews have withdrawn their application for review by an ARO”. The Ombudsman’s report noted a series of problems with systems which all had a negative impact on the people Centrelink’s decisions affected including: - repeated requests for

reviews being denied; - significant delays in obtaining appeals; - Centrelink recipients giving up because the process is too difficult and negative; - Centrelink failing to implement findings consistently; - important letters, faxes and emails from clients lost or misplaced by Centrelink. The Ombudsman also found that for every 100 appeals, 47 would have the original decision overturned in the internal review process. This level is significant because it highlights a lack of quality decision-making in the first case. “The scheme is fundamentally flawed and is massively underfunded so that Centrelink staff cannot give each of the 207,000 requests for review the attention they need,” said NWRN President Maree O’Halloran. Poor and delayed decisions by the Centrelink internal review and appeals system results in people being left on lower payments or going completely without income through no fault of their own. “Government is

The Centrelink Efficiency Scheme conflicts quite strongly with their Review and Appeals Scheme

April 2011

willing to pour millions into fraud detection and prevention, which we support,” said Ms O’Halloran. “But when it comes to ensuring people living on meagre Centrelink payments have access to a fair, understandable and transparent review system if things go wrong, it looks the other way.” The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s report has already led Centrelink to begin a review and implement changes to improve its internal review process over the next six months. “It makes sense for Centrelink to work with the Ombudsman on this scheme,” Ms O’Halloran said. “However, Centrelink should commit to engage with the NWRN and other stakeholders about how to get the system back on track”. Greens pushing for dental plan THE GREENS are demanding the delivery of a dental care plan for lowincome earners, according to The Australian (4 March 2011). As part of the deal to form government between Labor and the Greens there was agreement “that Australia needs urgent further action on dental care and that proposals for improving the nation’s investments in dental care should be considered in the context of the 2011 Budget”. According to The Australian, the Australian Government has proposed a number of measures to free up space in the budget for a dental plan. These include a new pathology funding regime, deferred subsidies for medicines and requiring Cabinet to approve new

pharmaceutical spending. Health Minister Nicola Roxon has previously considered extending the Teen Dental voucher program to people of all ages and expanding the type of treatments available under the program. However, such a program would be inadequate if the types of treatment are expanded dramatically. The current Teen Dental program provides vouchers to families with teenagers aged 12 to 17 covering a check-up, x-ray, scaling and clean. However, if anything more serious is found, the family needs to find the means of paying for the treatment themselves. In other words, the program can tell you what dental problems you have but cannot really do much in the way of fixing them. CPSA, as part of the Alliance for Universal Dental Health Insurance, is calling for a universal dental health scheme which would be phased in to firstly ensure that low-income earners receive the treatment they require. The scheme would be based on the current Medicare Enhanced Primary Care dental program which provides up to $4,500 worth of treatment over two years. The program provides the most comprehensive form of publicly-funded dental treatment, yet is only available to people with a chronic health condition. The Greens have also backed a universal Medicarestyle scheme but, according to The Australian, are prepared to see this phased in over a number of years “with a scheme focusing only on low-income earners” first.

THE VOICE ONLINE: www.cpsa.org.au

9


CPSA Campaigns Telstra gives us a lesson in raising prices without raising prices “In the coming months, we’re changing the way we charge for timed calls,” said the letter from Telstra to its customers last month. Our friends at the once great Australian telco have come up with a novel way of increasing their revenue and burning your hip pocket all without increasing their charges. From 20 March Telstra customers are now being billed in one minute blocks rather than 30 second blocks for calls to mobiles, STD calls (under certain plans) and standard international calls. This means that any time you make a call for less than 30 seconds, you are now being charged for a whole minute. Any time your call exceeds a minute mark, you get charged for a whole other minute. For example, a call to a Telstra mobile lasting 20 seconds before March 20 would have cost 63c. It now costs you 81c. The same type of call lasting 1 minute and 5 second would have cost 99c but now costs $1.17. In other words, for every call that doesn’t pass a 30 second mark, they are making an extra 18c that they previously didn’t charge. It’s not a whole lot but it will start to add up. And they wonder why they keep losing customers. Scrap bulk billing and Medicare, say the geniuses at the Centre for Independent Studies LAST month, THE VOICE reported on the typical yet hardly surprising disregard in which pensioners and low-income earners are held 10

by the Business Council of Australia (BCA). Unfortunately this month THE VOICE can report on another attack on social services from another typically pro-market, antiwelfare organisation. The conservative think-tank, the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS), last month published a paper which argued that bulk billing should be scrapped and individuals forced to pay for doctor visits and minor hospital procedures out of their own pocket. The author of the report, Dr Jeremy Sammut, said that the current Medicare system encourages GP consultations and tests resulting in less funding for public hospitals. “Medicare is inequitable because patients with the greatest health needs queue for treatment in overcrowded public hospitals, while patients with minor or trivial health needs receive free or highly subsidised GP visits on demand,” Dr Sammut writes. How very smart. Let’s end up with a system where those who can’t afford a visit to their GP put their visits off, ending up so ill they have to go to hospital – resulting in more costly treatment and overcrowded hospitals. He also argues that bulk billing “should be scrapped” and Medicare scrapped too, replaced with a competitive insurance system that would only protect people “against the risk and high cost of exceptional health events.” Yes, very clever again. Those who can afford to keep paying increasing insurance premiums will get the type of cover everyone naturally deserves. Meanwhile those who can’t

April 2011

afford to pay are left with out-of-pocket expenses for everything under the sun and end up in poorer health than what many are already found in. While the CIS has always tended to the extreme on the health debate, it is not hard to point to a number of areas where public health services have been eroded, leaving insurers to step in to provide cover. Dental health and elective surgery are just two such areas. Without pointing out how harmful such ideas would actually be, it leaves an opportunity for them to become acceptable. Our health system certainly doesn’t need any further erosion of Medicare.

and other groups, this quarantining was further extended with a final decision to be made as part of the 2011 NSW budget. CPSA held its position that the pension increase was intended to address the inadequacy of the pension. If the increase was not quarantined from social housing rents, it would be undermined and single pensioners would be left worse off. Pensioners in social housing are already paying more in rent than what is considered acceptable by the Westpac and Association of Superannuation Funds Australia’s Retirement Standard. Others, such as the Council on the Ageing, Pension Housing Rent Rise also raised the issue that still on the cards pensioners would often go LATE last year, CPSA without essentials such as attended a ‘Ministerial food in order to pay bills such forum’ on the deferral of the as rent. This meant single pension rent increase that there were considerable for public and community hidden costs faced by housing. pensioners as a result of low The ‘forum’ was income. hosted by the NSW Minister The Government for Housing Frank Terenzini argues that extra income and in attendance were is needed to fund public community and housing housing construction and groups as well as NSW maintenance. Government representatives The thing is, if the from Housing NSW, Human NSW Government does go Services, Treasury and ahead with this rent grab, it Department of Premier and will only net an extra 4% of Cabinet. total revenue derived from Its purpose was to rents which is a drop in the discuss the implications of ocean of what’s really needed increasing or not increasing for public housing. rents for single pensioners by Making single stopping or extending the so- pensioners feel guilty about called ‘rent holiday’. public housing funding VOICE readers will shortfalls is low. Funding for remember that the $60 per public housing needs to be fortnight increase to single reformed with ongoing boosts pensioners in September from the Commonwealth. 2009 was exempt from public It should not be placed and community housing rent on the shoulders of some of assessment for one year. the least well-off people in Following strong NSW. campaigning by CPSA

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


CPSA Information Directory INCOME SECURITY Centrelink Age Pension 13 23 00 DSP/Carer benefits 13 27 17 Family Assistance 13 61 50 Welfare Rights Centre Info on Government pensions and other benefits 9211 5300 1800 226 028 National Information Centre on Retirement Investments Anything for the small investor and people wondering about super or how to invest 1800 020 110 Financial Ombudsman Services Complaints about banking, insurance, super, financial planning 1300 780 808 Industry Fund Financial Planning 1300 138 848

Guardianship Tribunal Financial management orders for people with decisionmaking disabilities 1800 463 928 Seniors Information Service 13 12 44 Consumer Trader & Tenancy Tribunal Tenancy, trader and consumer disputes 13 32 20 Energy & Water Ombudsman (EWON) Complaints about all NSW electricity/gas retailers and Sydney and Hunter Water 1800 246 545 Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Phone and internet complaints 1800 062 058 GOODS AND SERVICE

Australian Taxation Office Super/Lost super 13 10 20 Personal tax 13 28 61

Telstra Pensioner Discount For basic plans only 1800 353 652

British Pensions in Australia Assistance in claiming the British Pension (02) 9521 7964 1300 308 353

NSW Seniors Card Discounts on goods and services 1300 364 758

No Interest Loans Scheme 1800 509 994 RIGHTS Australian Human Rights Commission Complaints about discrimination and harassment 1300 369 711 Commonwealth Ombudsman Complaints about Federal Government departments and agencies 1300 362 072 NSW Ombudsman’s Office Complaints about NSW Government agencies 1800 451 524 NSW Trustee and Guardian 1300 360 466 April 2011

NSW Companion Card Free event admission for companions of eligible people with a disability 1800 893 044 HEALTH AND CARE Commonwealth CareLink Info about aged and community care 1800 052 222 Office of Hearing Services Subsidised hearing aids 1800 500 726 Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 Single-gender Ward Hotline For patients who wish to be placed in a singlegender ward after 24hrs hospitalisation 1800 700 830 VisionCare NSW Subsidised spectacles (02) 9344 4122 1800 806 851

Home Care Service NSW Domestic assistance, respite and personal care 1800 044 043 Rape Crisis Centre 24hours/7days 1800 424 017 Health Care Complaints Commission NSW only 9219 7444 1800 043 159 Carers NSW Information, support 1800 242 636 Emergency respite 1800 059 059 Aged care information line Residential and community aged care information 1800 500 853 Aged Care Complaints Scheme Complaints about residential and community aged care 1800 550 552 Lifeline Mental health support, suicide prevention 13 11 14 Beyond Blue Depression and anxiety information 1300 224 636 Public Dental Health Services Call NSW Health for details 9391 9000 1800 639 398 Medicare Enhanced Primary Care Dental Scheme Call Medicare for details 132 011 People with Disabilities Advice for people with a disability 9370 3100 1800 422 016 Exit Australia Information about euthanasia 1300 103 948 Dying with Dignity NSW 02 9212 4782 Australian Men’s Shed Association 1300 550 009

HOUSING CPSA’s Older Persons Tenants’ Service (OPTS) Individual advocacy 9566 1120 1800 131310 CPSA’s Park and Village Service (PAVS) Individual advocacy for caravan parks and manufactured homes villages 9566 1010 1800 177 688 NSW Department of Housing Info and applications 1800 629 212 Tenants Advice Line Mondays 3-6pm 1800 251 101 LEGAL The Aged-care Rights Service including Older Persons’ Legal Service Aged care and retirement village advocacy and information and legal advice for older people. 9281 3600 1800 424 079 Law Access Referrals for legal help 1300 888 529 The Law Society Solicitor and legal firm referrals 9926 0300 1800 422 713 Community Justice Centres Dispute resolution services for minor matters 9228 7455 Domestic Violence Advocacy Service 1800 200 526 Family Relationship Centres Relationship and separation information 1800 050 321 Office of the Legal Services Commissioner Complaints about lawyers and conveyancers 1800 242 958

THE VOICE ONLINE: www.cpsa.org.au

11


Giggle Page Doc’s got the cure

The BBQ ritual When a man volunteers to do the BBQ the following chain of events are put into motion: 1. The woman buys the food. 2. The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables, and makes dessert. 3. The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man who is lounging beside the grill - beer in hand. 4. The woman remains outside the compulsory three meter exclusion zone where the exuberance of testosterone and other manly bonding activities can take place without the interference of the woman.

A man went to see his doctor because he was suffering from a miserable cold. His doctor prescribed some pills, but they didn’t help. One his next visit the doctor gave him a shot, but that didn’t do any good either. On his third visit the doctor told the man to go home and take a hot bath. As soon as he was finished bathing he was to throw open all the windows and stand in the draft. “But doc,” protested the patient. “If I do that, I’ll get pneumonia.” “I know,” said his physician. “I can cure pneumonia.”

5. THE MAN PLACES THE MEAT ON THE GRILL. 6. The woman goes inside to organise the plates and cutlery. 7. The woman comes out to tell the man that the meat is looking great. He thanks her and asks if she will bring another beer while he flips the meat. 8. THE MAN TAKES THE MEAT OFF THE GRILL AND HANDS IT TO THE WOMAN. 9. The woman prepares the plates, salad, bread, utensils, napkins, sauces, and brings them to the table. 10. After eating, the woman clears the table and does the dishes. And most important of all: 11. Everyone PRAISES the MAN and THANKS HIM for his cooking efforts. 12. The man asks the woman how she enjoyed “her night off.” And, upon seeing her annoyed reaction, concludes that there’s just no pleasing some women...

Murphy’s Laws Lottery Laws - If the numbers on the newspaper match the numbers on your ticket, then the newspaper will have run a misprint. - If the jackpot numbers match the numbers on your ticket, you will have forgotten to buy your ticket - The more numbers you match, the more likely you are to have lost your ticket.

Occupational Health and Safety, anyone?

Crossword Solutions Crossword on page 5

Computer Laws - Any given program, when running, is obsolete. - If a program is useful, it will have to be changed. - If a program is useless, it will have to be documented. - Any given program will expand to fill all available memory. Love Laws - All the good ones are taken. - If the person isn’t taken, there’s a reason. - The nicer someone is, the farther away s/he is from you. Toddlers Laws - When you need to carry a child they will want to walk. - When you want them to walk they will want to be carried. - When you bring the stroller they will want to walk. - When you forget the stroller they will want to ride. 12

April 2011

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW

THE VOICE - April 2011  

THE VOICE of Pensioners and Superannuants of NSW

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