JOIN OUR FIGHT FOR JUSTICE - DFRDB 
       

DFRDB is the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme, established under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948 and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Act 1973.

This scheme was established in 1973 and closed in 1991

See letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from Lt COL (retd.) J G Hislop, regarding proposed ammendments to this scheme.

 

Lt Col (retd.) J G Hislop

PO Box 5167

Wodonga 3690

November 2015

The Honourable Malcolm Turnbull.MP.

Prime Minister

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2006

Dear Prime Minister,

DEFENCE FORCE RETIREMENT AND DEATH BENEFITS ACT

References:     A          DFRB Act 1948

                        B          Jess Committee Report 1972

                        C          Acts Interpretation Act 1901

                        D          DFRDB Act 1973

                        E          Letter from Mr. Herb Ellerbock

F          Letter from Mr. R McKellar (C of S to the Hon Stuart Robert MP.) dated 15 September 2015

I am sure you are aware of the “UNIQUE NATURE OF MILITARY SERVICE” and I expect those in the Australian Defence Force and ex members have your support. I believe this uniqueness is what led then Prime Minister the Honourable Billy Hughes to vow that “You go and fight and when you come back we will look after your welfare” He added “We have entered into a bargain and we (the Australian people) must keep it”

At the 2015 NSW Liberal Party Conference the then Prime Minister The Honourable Tony Abbott MP used a statement referring to the Hon. Bill Shorten over his management of the AWU during his time as Federal Secretary of that union. The statement included the words “Sacred trust of workers of Australia in the leadership of their union”

I believe there has always been and always will be “Sacred Trust” between members of the Australian Defence Force and the Government of the day. This trust is such that members of the ADF expect the Government not only to use their operational talents in time of conflict or natural disasters but also to ensure their post service welfare is treated with fairness and as a priority issue. Unfortunately this has not been the case with the DFRB/DFRDB Acts which contain clauses that seriously disadvantage ADF retirees.

Attached are two papers that outline our concerns in relation to sections 24 and 98 of the DFRDB Act. Mr. Ellerbock (ref. E) forwarded to former Prime Minister Abbott’s office a detailed submission on other sections of the Act and a number high impact well researched graphics.  I forwarded Mr. Ellerbock’s submission (by email) to every Member of Parliament. In a letter from Mr. R McKellar (ref F) I was told of many facts that were included in Mr. Ellerbock’s original letter and advised that the Government has no intention of a further review into the now closed DFRDB scheme. Just because a scheme has been closed does not mean that ex-servicemen and women should continue to be disadvantaged by what I firmly believe is flawed legislation. Furthermore Mr. McKellar’s letter failed to answer many of the issues raised. Another review of the DFRDB Act was not called for as there have been plenty done already and most of these were completed with questionable terms of reference. Prime Minister what we seek is amendments to the current Act.

Members and ex-members of the ADF have been fighting this battle since 1973 and surely it must be evident that this ongoing dis-satisfaction with the Act will continue until all former members of DFRB/DFRDB and their spouses are dead. It matters not whether a member of the DFRB/DFRDB scheme saw operational service or not this is about amending a flawed scheme.  Prime Minister let us see some real action to correct the years of “Yes Minister” type responses from the bureaucrat’s to our thousands of submissions.

On the 22 December 1972 the parliament announced the acceptance of the Joint Select Committee (Jess Report) with minor amendments to be legislated as the DFRDB Act. I believe the DFRDB Act does not conform to Section 15AB (2) (c) of The Acts Interpretation Act. The flawed drafting arrangement was brought to the notice of the Federal Parliament by the Member for Herbert, Mr. Bonner, on 30 May 1973. Addressing the House of Representatives Mr. Bonner said “How could simplicity of understanding be achieved, when the Minister permitted the exclusion of Service representation from the drafting committee? Surely the inclusion of Service representation during the drafting stages is a basic principle to abide by, for servicemen understand the problems of the services far better than their counterparts in the Department of Defence”

My research has failed to find any justification in the DFRB Act or the Jess Report that would allow those responsible for drafting the DFRDB Act to include sections that so seriously disadvantage ex and current serving members.

A             The Jess Report included a section that stated that the term “Pension” should not be used in the Act but it was to be referred to as “Retirement Pay”.  This may appear minor but what I receive each fortnight is retirement pay based on a contributory system of superannuation.  Mr. Jess so many years ago was well aware that if the term pension was used them ex members of the ADF would be considered by the bureaucrats as just another pensioner. The DFRDB Act uses the term “pension”

B             Commutation of a portion of a contributors entitlement is included in the Act but a member having received a lesser retirement pay for taking commutation using “Life Expectancy”, to calculate the reduced entitlement, continues to repay the commonwealth until the day he dies. That is even once the prepayment has been repaid in full the Commonwealth continue to receive repayment. The Jess report was not specific in this section and it can be interpreted either way, but the question that must be answered is “Why was life expectancy used to reduce retirement pay if it was not intended that achievement of the stipulated age would mean reversion to full retirement pay level?”

C             A member who did not commute a portion of their entitlement does not receive their full retirement pay.

D             The spouse of a deceased member does not receive his/her due entitlement due to C above

Prime Minister all I ask is for you and your Cabinet to review the sections of the DFRDB Act covered in this submission and reference E. It is pointless tasking the DFRDB Authority, COMSUPER, or the office of the relevant Minister as their responses will continue to follow the Public Service approach to ADF superannuation. I ask you to apply the principle of fairness, the UNIQUE NATURE OF MILITARY SERVICE and determine if the Jess Committee report was faithfully enacted into the DFRDB Act.

In previous representations to Governments we have always relied on the support of members and ex members of the ADF and we have failed to have the DFRDB Act amended. On this occasion we have decided to give the Australian public an opportunity to consider our case and offer their support. To this end we will make maximum use of Social Media and we are confident that our fellow citizens will recognize the contribution made by current and ex-servicemen and women over many years and support our case.

If you decide that the Act as currently written meets the criteria above I request that a detailed press release be issued so that all members of the various ADF superannuation schemes are well aware of your Governments position prior to the next election.

Yours faithfully

Jim Hislop

Lt Col (retd.)

33 years of honourable service including operational deployment.

Attachments.    1              Section 24 of the DFRDB Act proposed amendment

                        2              Section 98B (5) of the DFRDB Act proposed amendment.

CC           The Honourable Cathy McGowan AO MP

                The Honourable Andrew Wilkie MP

                The Honourable Clive Palmer MP

                Senator Jaquie Lambie

                Emails to all other Members and Senators.