NUMBER 18
WINTER 2003

BAPA Newsletter

Overview - Legal possibilities - Political possibilities - Summary
Do YOU want to join the BAPA letter writing campaign ? - Abbreviations
Please note re Annette Carson - Howard attacks UK - The World cries foul - Did you know ?

Introducing BERIA - E-mail & the Internet - BAPA Executive officers - Thanks

Post Carson. Where now ?
by Brian Havard, President of BAPA

Overview

It cannot be denied that rejection of the Carson Appeal was a devastating blow, not so much the rejection itself as the manner in which it was presented. BAPA must realistically appraise its possibilities and the potential for action. While there is an opportunity for new political initiatives both in Britain and on the Continent, they can only be subsidiary to and supportive of legal action.

Legal possibilities

One possibility is an application for judicial review of the legislation giving rise to pensions discrimination based on Age Discrimination in Australia. Since in rejecting the Carson case the Appeal Court judgment relied heavily on what it alleged were the differing economic circumstances in each of the countries where pensions are frozen, this can be readily obviated when the discrimination occurs in the same country. This application for judicial review will only proceed if our legal advisers are satisfied that we have a strong enough case, and subject also to the chosen individual applicants securing legal aid which will both help meet the legal costs and protect them from having HMG costs assessed against them.

Another is pressing home outstanding actions under the DWP Appeals procedure, all of which were rejected by Tribunals and are now awaiting decisions on an appeal to a Commissioner (who ranks with a High Court judge). Naturally the Court Service will try to steamroller our appeals by citing the Carson Appeal Court rejection. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg must be persuaded that rejection by successively a Tribunal and a Commissioner completes the Convention requirement that "all domestic remedies have been exhausted".

We must claim that our ‘entitlement to a fair and public hearing’     is   thwarted    by   the    immense cost of proceedings. The Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights must grasp the nettle of costs by accepting that a private citizen who has of necessity taken his social security grievance through the free DWP Appeals procedure up to rejection by a Commissioner must be considered as having "exhausted domestic remedies". To achieve this outcome requires political action in the Council of Europe.

The only court where frozen pensioners may expect their case to be heard dispassionately is the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. This could be achieved by the restoration of my own application and/or by taking one or more of the DWP appeals to Strasbourg, and/or by taking some entirely new initiative. The quickest would be the first option, the second would take a year or so, while the third would require several years. This is however not an argument for not starting it.

HMG is cock-a-hoop at having won the Appeal; it must be shown that there is a relentless tide of actions coming down the track, never ceasing until they abandon the inequity.

Political possibilities

1. In the UK action is already under way targeting senior bureaucrats. One of our Committee members is engaged in battle – primarily over SERPS - with the top dog at DWP, Sir Richard Mottram, while another is organizing a wider action.

Our current concern is with the politicians, MPs and Lords/Ladies, because we must continue probing for weaknesses and look to re-build a support base. For several years the position has been hopeless because of the huge Labour majority, but now cracks are beginning to appear.

2. We will call for a mail campaign targeting the top office-bearers at the Council of Europe (CoE) and the thirty Westminster MPs who form the UK delegation to the CoE Parliament (not to be confused with the European Parliament and its separately elected MEPs), the objective being:

- to drum up support for having rejected Tribunal cases heard in the ECtHR in Strasbourg without going through the impossibly expensive UK court system.

- and to respond to the blatant anti-Convention (HRA) bias in the English courts by having my Application restored to the Lists followed by re-hearing the case.

Summary

We have suffered a severe blow – but we have had that experience all too often. We frozen pensioners have given our Mother-country every chance to demonstrate its sincerity in passing the Human Rights Act in order to bring the European Convention right into the heart of the UK judicial system.

HMG has predictably used every artifice in the book to produce their desired result, not ours – and the Courts have pandered to their every wish, using selective quotations, sophistry, casuistry and equivocation. On the evidence before the Appeal Court, the diametrically opposed judgment could (and should) have been brought, but it had evidently been decided from the outset that the Government must prevail. It is impossible to say whether this was due to undue deference to Westminster or simply that the appellant failed to touch the heart-strings

Now we must show our anger. An encouraging development of late has been the emergence among our members of powerful letter-writers.

They, and any other of you who are willing to participate are invited to study a series of position papers we are preparing, choose their topic, and tell their own story in addressing themselves to the suggested targets – or any others of their own choosing.

Let us show HMG that the battle has only just begun.
Brian Havard, President of BAPA.

Do YOU want to join the BAPA Letter writing campaign ?
Please send a BRIEF NOTE giving your full name and address and/or your e-mail address to:
British Australian Pensioner Association Inc. Box 35, Christies Beach, South Australia, 5165.
Or to our e-mail address:
yeomanoz@yahoo.co.uk

Abbreviations:
HMG Her Majesty's Government -
DWP Dept for Work & Pensions
CoE Council of Europe -
ECtHR European Court of Human Rights
MEPs Members of the European Parliament -
HRA Human Rights Act
SERPS - State Earnings Related Pension Scheme
 

PLEASE NOTE:  Graham Chrystie, Leader of Annette Carson's legal team, has said he believes the money already collected will cover all her court costs to date.  We understand no further appeal has been lodged.

Howard attacks UK
By Journalist Ava Hubble

The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, has renewed his criticism of the British government following last week's Appeal Court ruling that expatriates' pensions can remain frozen in some countries, including Australia.

"We have been lobbying the British Government for years," he said. "But so far they've been completely unwilling to change."

"Our view is that the British Government should have fully indexed British pensioner recipients. This is very important in particularly South Australia and Western Australia where there is an above average number of people who were born in the United Kingdom."

The British policy costs Australia about $100 million (£40 million) a year in topping up British expat pensions.

Amanda Vanstone, the Australian minister for family and community services, said: "It's disgraceful that the UK Government takes the contributions from their pensioners during their working lives and then refuses to index those pensions in retirement if a pensioner chooses to live in Australia rather than, say, the United States. It is morally wrong.

"The indexation issue remains a priority for this Government and I will personally take every opportunity to resolve this matter and to pursue a better outcome for the 221,000 UK pensioners in Australia who are affected by the UK's discriminatory policy.

"Australia indexes every one of the pensions or benefits it pays to former residents living overseas. Most other countries behave the same way.

"The UK's penny pinching policy is well out of step with international practice in this area and the UK Government needs to reverse its indefensible position."

The World cries foul

A small selection of letters sent to the BBC after the Carson Appeal judgment was passed down.

Each UK politician who supports the current legislation should be barred from calling themselves 'British' because they have abandoned the principles of fairness for which that once stood. Pat from Australia

I think it is completely illogical and unfair that those who have paid the full amount of national insurance during their working lives should be discriminated against because they choose to spend their pensionable years abroad. Philip from Netherlands

Of course we are being cheated. We paid in real money and we are being paid back in inflated money, i.e. lower value money. In any other scenario this would be seen as fraud. Robert from Canada

Like the NHS, Pensions are poorly handled by the UK. If a person has paid in the dues, surely they should have raises no matter where they live. James from France

I think it is very unjust. People have a right to choose where they wish to retire. The last years of your life (after paying your taxes) should be spent without having to worry about money. Fernandez from Spain

Raw deal, you bet! Why should where I live have an effect on whether I receive the updates that I feel entitled to, I have paid in to the scheme just as though I was still living in England. Alan from Canada

I would follow the government's logic if no expatriate pensioners received the increase. For half to do so is patently discriminatory. Barry from Canada

We have always looked on Britain as an example to the world of fairplay and justice - sadly this is no longer the case. Expatriate Pensioners have been treated shamefully. Brenda Parkes from Canada

We must suppose that the judges are correct in stating what the Law says. It's the Law itself that is disgusting. There is only one word for it THEFT. You want two words? LEGALISED THEFT. So what's new? Gerard Mulholland from France

Expatriate Pensions should be honoured around the World. If a Pension is granted it should be granted to the same value to each person. As it is at present many who have earned their pension see it being eaten up by inflation. Pensions should be paid to entitled people wherever they are at the same rate and privileges. David Thomas from Australia

Yes it is a raw deal. They should not be treated differently from any other pensioners. Steve from New Zealand

This is unfair to pensioners with a private pension which is taxed before payment to them. If there are 5M of us currently affected and the number is growing can we not, by registering our votes effect some elections? Michael from Hong Kong

Yes, it's a raw deal, surely every person that has paid the required contributions should be entitled to receive the full amount regardless of where they live. Chris from Libya

My wife and I paid our dues. She was a nurse, I was a teacher. My teaching pension covers costs. It is inequitable that if I remained in UK I'd be uprated annually, but now in NZ we are not. The judge is right, this is political. Alan Byde from New Zealand

It is unfair to British pensioners abroad not to have their pension uprated to match inflation. They become paupers in the country they live in. Doreen from Australia

And there were many, many more.
We have world wide support, let's build on it.

DID YOU KNOW ?

Britain deprives the Australian Economy of
£179,200,000
($448,000,000)
Every year
by underpaying British
Pensioners resident in AUSTRALIA

 

Introducing B E R I A
British Expatriate Retirees in Australia - An Internet discussion group for 410 sub-class Visa holders

Barbara Lassiter has set up a Yahoo Group specific interest site to give holders of the Sub-Class 410 Visa an opportunity to discuss any problems and anomalies they may have encountered during their time in Australia.

The Temporary Visa Sub-Class 410 acts as a kind of no-mans land inasmuch as the holders are not considered to be a resident in Australia nor are they considered to be a resident of Britain once they have been out of the country for over 12 months. One of the main problems caused by this anomaly is to do with the ongoing saga of Pensions.

We   get   none    of   the   entitlements   given  to  Permanent Residents but we are still treated by the British Government in exactly the same way as if we were.

Until March of this year a holder of this Visa was not allowed to work; at least now it is possible to apply to work for 20 hours a week.

I hope that this forum will help the holders of the 410 Visa to air their views and perhaps enable us to unite towards encouraging the Australian Government to, at least, consider granting permanent residency after period of time eg after 10 years.

The address to join the group is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BERIA/

E-mail & The Internet

A growing number of our members are acquiring computers and access to the Internet. If you would like to be told when specially interesting additions are made to the BAPA web site please go to Emailing BAPA saying:

"please add me to the BAPA mailing list".

If you have recently been receiving e-mail messages from us alerting you to news on the web site there is no need to tell us your address again, unless it changes.

Remember

If you have not got Internet access at home most public libraries can now provide that facility - it is even possible to get an e-mail address through many libraries. You can find us at:

www.britishpensions.org.au

BAPA Executive Officers

President: Brian Havard    behavard@bigpond.net.au

Vice President: James Nelson   ann33_james@bigpond.com

Secretary/Treasurer: Jack Stoner   astoner@senet.com.au
Box 35, Christies Beach, SA. 5165

Membership Secretary/Webmaster:  David Waterhouse  yeomanoz@yahoo.co.uk
PO Box 8, Mooloolaba, Qld. 4557
Web page: www.britishpensions.org.au

Our representative in West Australia is Derrick Prance   pranced@eon.net.au

Member of the World Alliance of British Expatriate Pensioners

Thanks for your past support and your generosity. Please keep it up.

In May this year we issued Membership Number 3,000. Seldom a day goes past without letters of support, donations from existing members and applications for membership coming to our PO Box 8 address in Mooloolaba. We very greatly appreciate these communications from our supporters and thank so many of you for your generosity to the cause.

The current cost of joining BAPA is a one off payment of $20 in return for which we send out periodic newsletters and carry out research to enable us to answer your questions on relevant matters. Many of our supporters also send a voluntary donation periodically, or in response to our requests for financial support to further our fight for pension parity. No way are we giving up now. We need your support as much, if not more than ever. 

Click on Membership Form to go to a printable copy.  Please use this form whether you are introducing a new member or sending us a donation to our ongoing Fighting Fund.

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