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President's Report 2019

President's Report - AGM  25 February 2019

Ladies and gentlemen. 2018/19 was a year of transition in many ways - a transition that will continue throughout 2019. Your Committee has endeavoured to confront the fact of a diminishing and ageing general membership and an inability to recruit new members to an ageing Committee. It seems that our actions may be getting some results. What were those actions?

1. We approached the Public Service Association and the Australian Education Union (SA branch) for support, and they are only too willing to provide promotional space in their newsletters and websites. We hope to make similar links with the Nurses Federation (SA branch). Our current constitution opens our membership to any state government superannuation scheme. The publicity we can gain through these linkages may lead to new members of our Association

2. When we heard that SCOA (the Superannuated Commonwealth Officers Association) was closing in mid-2019 we formed a working group with their SA members to explore the possibility of opening up our membership to include former South Australian SCOA members. In our discussions we discovered that we had many goals and interests in common, and today we are asking you to support some minor changes to our constitution to allow former SCOA members to join our Association and fully participate in our activities.

3. We have prepared a manual for new Committee members and intending new Committee members to make the transition from an ordinary member to the Committee that much easier. This manual will be available in time for our March meeting.

4. Today we welcome the nominations of Dr Ray Hickman and Barry Grear, OAM, to the positions of Vice President and Committee member respectively. Ray you all know; Barry is a former Deputy CEO of TAFE. Fortunately, despite increasing age and some infirmities all existing Committee members have re-nominated. In the future we may find some Committee members and office bearers from among former SCOA members.

I mentioned transition for some other reasons as well.

1. During 2018 we saw some significant changes in the Superannuation Federation. The Federation's Executive Committee and the Federation's nominations to the Boards of Super SA and Funds SA have for many years been dominated by elected officials of the Public Service Association. That has changed and the AEU and the Nurses Federation now occupy most of those key positions. Also the Federation reviewed its governance arrangements during the year and is poised to make some constitutional changes. Not enough for us but at least some much needed changes.

2. As I mentioned earlier SCOA found that it was unable to sustain its staffed office in Canberra and decided to close down its organisation. Some years ago SCOA closed down its State branches. However, a small group of SCOA members in Adelaide have continued to meet informally each month and two of that group have served on the national body. Some of that group are here today at your Committee's invitation and I ask them to now stand and for you to give them a warm welcome.

The closing of SCOA does put a cloud over ACSPRO. SCOA was a major force in ACSPRO. Most of the current members of the ACSPRO Committee were SCOA members. It will be interesting to see what happens after 30 June.

3. Super SA has a new CEO and she has demonstrated a willingness to engage with SA Superannuants more closely and regularly. That is a good thing, although in recent meeting with her on a major matter we noted that she backed off and pointed us towards Treasury and Minister Lucas. In that sense things have not changed much. Although our linkages with Super SA, the Superannuation Federation and ACSPRO are important, it is clear that we need to continue to engage with Commonwealth and State MPs from both the government and the opposition if we are to get our voice properly heard. And we will do that.

We have commenced another major project which is to work towards the conversion of the member-funded component of our pensions to taxed-source income. Underpinning this project is, that should we be successful, it will only be on the basis of our long standing policy that conversion would be voluntary for each member. We had our first meeting with the Treasurer before Xmas. He undertook to examine the situation in other relevant States and meet us again early in 2019. We will need to be able to demonstrate to Minister Lucas that such a conversion would not be at a cost to the State Government, indeed that it would be a gain with our pensions remaining entirely in South Australia without a proportion of them going to Canberra by way of income tax. We will need also to demonstrate to our members that a significant number of people, but by no means all, would benefit from such a conversion. In the meantime, we are developing a strategy which will bring all members of parliament and political parties into our project. Ray Hickman has done a lot of work on what this conversion would look like and we need to test it with an external professional, perhaps a tax agent who specialises in this area. We will advise you more about this at our March General Meeting.

In addition to meeting with MPs during last year we identified a number of areas in which we need to take an interest, e.g. the age pension, the commonwealth seniors health card, aged care home support packages, residential care and retirement villages.

Our Website Content Manager and Public Officer Peter Frick has further developed our website during the year and we intend to place more material there in between our three newsletters each year. We will continue the high standard of both our newsletter and our website. Members may have noticed that our newsletter coordinator, Max Jahn, has introduced some new features and made some presentation changes. Hopefully the synergy between our newsletter, the website and our general meetings will improve communication between our Executive Committee and the wider membership.

I would like you to thank our hard working Committee, some of whom have held down two office bearing positions. I would also like to thank Ray Hickman. Ray took a year off from the Committee to pursue a scientific project in the Gammon Ranges. However, he still made himself available to research projects, handle technical matters and attend meetings when required. He was always there when we needed him.

For the most part I believe that this transition period will be positive for our Association. Fortunately, it is also accompanied by stability factors not the least of which are very long serving and experienced committee members and many regular attendees at our general meetings. We are only eight years away from our 100 years’ birthday. Let's hope that most of us will be around to help celebrate that occasion.

I will stand again for President this year, but with indifferent health this may have to be my last year.


Peter Fleming