NUMBER 26
FEBRUARY 2007

BAPA Newsletter

FOCUS ON RIGHTS

British Australian Pensioner Association newsletter No 26 - February 2007

Our aim is ‘parity, not charity’

We only want what is ours

Quote from Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister: 29 January 2007, BBC Daily news.

"There is no place in our society for discrimination”

 

 

THE ECHR CASE

The case was lodged as “Jackson and others”, but the Court preferred to call it “Carson and others”, because it follows on from the Carson case in the UK courts.

Most of the litigants are from Canada, but the DWP has chosen to deal only with Carson’s details.

Papers have been lodged with the Court by both sides, and replies have been going to and fro. It had been hoped that the Court would consider the case entirely on the papers, without the barristers having to appear at Court. This could have resulted in a decision in March this year.

Our lawyers also offered a compromise - a friendly settlement - but the government refused to consider it.

But the government have put a kibosh on this by demanding an oral hearing. Not only will this delay the decision, but it could give the government side the opportunity to slip in arguments for which our lawyer has had no time to prepare.

Perhaps Court rules would not permit this, but I am cynical enough to believe that they will try anything to stop us getting our money.

There is another possibility that could defeat us, and that is the power of “precedent”. I suspect that the ECHR will be more bound by precedent than even the UK courts are, and that they will fall back on decisions made in the ECmHR (the Commission which preceded the Court).

There was a case in 1982 and another in 1984. Both pensioners lost.

In the meantime we continue with our other activities, lobbying, research and publicity.

LOBBYING

A Member of Parliament prepared a draft Early Day Motion for consideration. Unfortunately it was flawed in many ways. For example, it would have given only limited indexation with no parity. An elderly pensioner with a ‘full’ basic pension frozen at £10 per week might have received an increase of 30 pence.

Think what the British Government might do at the ECHR if they thought they might get away with this. If the Court imposed it as a compromise, we might for ever be banned from seeking parity.

The draft was replaced, but the new EDM 856 is ambivalent on this point. We must lobby MPs to abandon this approach, and make it clear to them that parity is our priority.

Other flaws might have restricted the indexation to people who had made mandatory contributions all their working life. This would have excluded some of the litigants in the ECHR case, even Annette Carson!

On behalf of all BAPA members we would like to thank John Markham for his efforts in London while representing the Consortium over the "Frozen Pension" issue. John has made many useful contacts that may well pave the way to a successful conclusion over the pension issue. Well done John!

RESEARCH Brian Havard

An Appeal to the Senior Law Lord

Most of you will know that the pensioner application for judicial review of the policy which freezes our pensions was ultimately turned down when a panel of five Lords of Appeal voted against us by 4 to 1. The most senior of the Law Lords (he did not hear the Carson appeal) is a Lord Bingham who came to my notice when in a speech to the Law Faculty at Cambridge University he proposed eight principles which define the ‘Rule of Law’:

1. The Law must be accessible and intelligible

2. Resolution by law and not by the exercise of discretion

3. Laws should apply equally to all save to the extent that objective differences justify differentiation

4. The Law must afford adequate protection of fundamental human rights

5. The means must be provided of resolving civil disputes without prohibitive cost

6. Ministers must exercise their powers reasonably, in good faith

7. That adjudicative procedures provided by the state should be fair

8. Rule of Law requires state compliance with its obligations under international law

I wrote to Lord Bingham and told him that, in rejecting the Carson application, the English courts had breached every one of his eight principles! He sent me a prompt, friendly response but said that he could not intervene in court proceedings. I have followed up with another letter saying I understand fully that he cannot engage publicly in our dispute but that he might have a quiet word with the Lord Chancellor to have the Human Rights Act amended so that a Carson-type fiasco can be avoided in future. I doubt anything will happen but at least our issue has been brought to the notice of the highest lawyer in the land.

Anyone wishing to see the correspondence should email me; see list at end. Brian Havard

PUBLICITY

One of our aims should be to educate the British public. Most do not even know about our case. National daily papers are not interested except when some news breaks. The Weekly Telegraph and similar newspapers mostly circulate among expatriates, so are never seen by the home readership. Even our friends and relatives who know about it are not always on side with us. They say: “You left the country for your own good, so live with the consequences”

That’s the attitude of the “reasonable man”. But hear George Bernard Shaw.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

DOCUDRAMA*

* A docudrama is a presentation in dramatic form of real life events or situations.

Peter Morris came up with a good idea while watching BBC Telly one night. We passed the assignment to Barbara Lassiter. Here is her account of what happened

An unusual email popped up on my computer in early December 2006. It was from James Nelson, President of BAPA, asking if I could make a 2 minute film about the Frozen Pension policy scandal. It was intended for a UK, BBC competition for the current affairs programme “Newsnight”.  If we could not meet the competition date we might try the free video website, “YouTube”.

James supplied a script and it was my job to find the actors. After much head-scratching it was finally decided that my husband, Graham (“Bob”), and our friend, Peter (“Ron”), who is around our age, would suit.

This was a golden opportunity to try out my new camcorder - a bad move! Whilst it worked beautifully I soon realised we could not meet the Newsnight deadline, and would have to turn to “YouTube”. This meant re-shooting the film using low-resolution format on a standard width film.

Refilming was not successful..so I fished out my old faithful camcorder and had a third go!  Thank goodness for the patience of our friend.

The setting was our living room, with Peter and Graham on separate sofas, to convey different locations. We wrote long sentences on “idiot” boards, enabling each character to face the camera throughout.

I edited with titles and music. The first showing was very successful, but an incorrect spelling called for a final re-editing!

As I write, the first attempt has had 678 viewings and the revised version 2,230, so the message is getting out there. Barbara Lassiter

Tell your friends in the UK to have a look at the video on http://tinyurl.com/yz6ns8. You must get the code after the slash right or else you will be taken to something quite different.

The script of the docudrama is printed elsewhere in this issue. After your friends have seen and understood, they can sign the epetition.

EPETITION

Another “tiny” URL for you, http://tinyurl.com/yumuo5

Someone said that a petition is about as useful as an ashtray on a motor bike. He was only using literal thinking, when what was needed was lateral thinking. He forgot that a motor bike could have a sidecar passenger for whom the ashtray could be very useful!

What then does lateral thinking tell us? The purpose of a petition may not be only to reach the person petitioned - in this case the Prime Minister - but to teach people who read the petition what it is all about.

Last year we presented a paper petition to parliament. This is what happened to Barbara Mather when she was collecting signatures: A guy said, “when you came to Australia you must have known about freezing so just live with it” .But when I explained that pensioners in the USA and other countries received the uplift he said ”give me the paper I’ll sign it now, that is discrimination against Australia”

Once your friends get this message they may be ready to sign.

This is another of Peter’s bright ideas to assist you, the BAPA members, in convincing your friends and relatives that our case is a good one. And

EMIGRATE MAGAZINE

BAPA has placed an advertisement in Emigrate, a magazine directed solely towards people interested in migrating to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. For more information, see:

 http://www.outboundpublishing.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?location=000003&showitem=000001

 Each year, there are a number of migration fairs held around the UK and they are very popular.

The audience is over 50,000 people and the magazine is provided free to people attending the fairs at Sandown, Edinburgh and Belfast and several other major centres.

We are hoping to obtain publicity for the frozen pensions cause and hopefully sign up some new members, although that is not the main focus of the advertisement.

The advertisement also contains details of our website, our contact email address and a telephone number in the UK for those people interested in this issue.

Later in the year, we will provide feedback about the results we get from this idea. Peter Morris

LOCAL NEWSPAPERS

National dailies are not really interested, but local newspapers might be willing to give space to an item from a former local resident giving a picture of what life is like in your part of the world. Tell them a bit about yourself, where you went to school, why you emigrated and other interesting titbits.

But make a point also of mentioning the frozen pension regime and the fact that it is applied in a discriminatory manner. Don’t forget to include references to the YouTube video and the epetition.

What we would be trying to do here is to get the editor interested in the hope that he might invite you to write an article. Don’t be afraid of this, because there are plenty of people on your committee who are skilled writers.

Another possible strategy would be to ask your local MP to introduce you to the editor of your local paper. Or maybe ask your cousin for the name of the MP or the contact details for the newspaper.

UK SUPPORT

Our cause collects support wherever we can. Have a look at

 http://www.seniorsnetwork.co.uk/campaigns/index.htm

http://www.maturetimes.co.uk/taxonomy_menu/22/205

Both of these organisations take material from our web site and news letters and reproduce them with encouraging comment.

Mature Times, in its January Newspaper, published an article based on material supplied by James Nelson, David Laws MP, and Tony Bockman of CABP. The editor says ‘We've got over 400,000 readers in the UK.’

Guardian Weekend had an article about living abroad, but it did not mention pension freezing. A sharp-eyed member in London had a letter published, as follows:

“You made no mention of the UK's discriminatory state pension policy. Brits who retire to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, to mention the main countries affected, have their pensions frozen at the amount they were getting when they left the UK. However, retirees to the US and other countries, have theirs uprated in line with inflation. They paid the same contributions when they worked in the UK, so should get the same pensions.” Julia Johnson

The more publicity we get in Britain the better. And we must make sure we draw the contrast between pensioner treatment in USA and AUS!

An insert with this letter is suitable for you to use by sending copies to your friends and relations in the UK, or to your British Member of Parliament

BUREAUCRATS

Beware bureaucrats; they can be unbending in applying the rules, as the following examples show. They always try to tell you it was your own fault! They will use fancy language, but that’s what it amounts to - it is your fault.

DWP

From time to time, DWP will send you a ‘Life Certificate’. The purpose of this is to make sure you are still alive. If the certificate is not returned to them, duly completed, they will assume you are dead, and they will stop paying your pension.

The first sign could be that your pension no longer appears in your bank account. One old lady who was beginning to suffer from dementia did not notice that her pension had been stopped for two years. Centrelink continued to pay her Australian pension as if her UK pension was still coming in.

It could happen to you even if you have all your marbles. If you have changed your address and not told DWP the Life Certificate could be sent to your old address, long after your redirect order has expired. So keep DWP informed.

DWP Pensions Service, International Pension Centre, Tyneview Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE98 1BA, UK.

CENTRELINK

From time to time they will want to know details of your assets and income, including the British pension. A pensioner reported the correct weekly amount in pounds, but Centrelink recorded this as the monthly amount. As a result his Australian pension was overpaid for several years before it was noticed. Centrelink cut his pension to the correct amount, and then asked for a refund of the amount overpaid. Since it was their fault and not his, he objected and appealed. He won, and the debt was waived by a tribunal. Nevertheless, it caused him great grief.

There were two similar cases in the same area, and there could be more. One of these two won, and the other had a partial win.

DWP AGAIN

One of our members has had a significant win in a tussle with DWP.

She has a pension from a public sector source, a County Council. Because she now lives in a frozen country part of her pension from the Council is frozen by DWP. In this situation, DWP is supposed to tell the pension fund to make up the difference.

While she was trying to get justice on this matter, DWP batted it about from department to department. But now after long months and many emails she has won.

There is a standard procedure for this situation, but nobody in DWP seemed to know about it. Fortunately for her, we did. She had to knock a few heads together - metaphorically, though I am sure she could have done so literally, given the chance.

Now here is the lesson.

If you have a pension from the public sector derived from employment between 1978 and 1997, you may also be affected - and you will not be aware of it.

Public sector covers civil service, local government service, armed forces, police and other emergency services, National Health Service, teaching service, and of course, MPs and judges.

N.I.F.ACCOUNTS

Here for your entertainment are some of the items that caused losses in the National Insurance Fund last year.

Cause

£million

Loss on Sale of investments

        65

Unpaid contributions written off

      420

Redundancy debt written off

      240

Actual Benefit fraud

        42

Estimated additional fraud

      250

Total of above

    1017

The total of the losses was 2.5 times what it would need to uprate our pensions. But nevertheless the fund increased its surplus by £5 billion to £34 billion. The auditor thought that the estimated additional fraud was not enough to warrant checking!

VETERANS’ BADGE

Derrick Prance suggests you might be eligible for a Veterans’ badge. Details can be found at:

http://www.veteransagency.mod.uk/vets_badge/vets_badge.htm

Postal address:

Veterans Agency, Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancashire, FY5 3WP

Fax: 01253 330561(UK Only)

+44 1253 330561 (Overseas)

Email: help@veteransagency.gsi.gov.uk

Freephone Helpline

Free: 0800 169 2277 (UK only)

Free: 0800 169 3458 (Minicom UK only)

+44 1253 866043 (Overseas)

If you give them your service details you should be able to get a badge

BAPA

Brief financial statement at 31/12/06

Contributions

 16720.72

Interest

   1178.78

Income

 17899.50

 

 

Consortium ECHR

 25214.32

Expenses postage &c

   3464.86

Bank Charges

     156.05

Expenditure

 28835.23

 

 

Brought fwd

 62540.33

Incm less exp

-10935.73

Carried fwd

 51604.60

 

David Waterhouse

Our worthy NL editor has found it necessary to retire from this job because of ill health. Our thanks and best wishes go to David, and also to his wife, Joy, for supporting him all these years.

 

BAPA executive Committee & Email Addresses

President: James Nelson

ann33_james@bigpond.com

Web Address: www.britishpensions.org.au

Secretary

Box 35, Christies Beach, SA 5165

Treasurer Mem Secretary

PO Box 550, Burpengary, Qld. 4505

Vice. President: Peter Morris

petermorriscpa@btopenworld.com

Secretary: Jack Stoner

jstoner@iprimus.com.au

Treasurer/Mem/Sec: Barbara Mather

jimbarmather@dodo.com.au

Brian Havard:

behavard@bigpond.net.au

Derrick Prance

pranced@eon.net.au

 

Member of the International Consortium taking our case to Europe

Affiliated to PARITY & the National Pensioners Convention

 

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