RNZRSA National Council, October 2012

Notes from RNZRSA National Council Meeting, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington 15 – 17 October 2012

David Weston, RNZA Association Delegate

Monday 15 October

A Remembrance Service at the National War Memorial preceded the first day of the 96th National Council meeting. The initial sessions covered the 3 major themes of the RSA –

  • We Welcome (covering hospitality and the RSA brand issues),
  • We Support (covering Support activities and included a presentation “Future Health of NZDF – is military service good for you?” by the Director Defence Health, Surg Capt Alison Drewry RNZN, and an outline of support provided to UK veterans by the Royal British Legion, and the release of the 1st Module of training material for RSA Support Workers)
  • We Remember (covering the centenary activities planned for 2014 – 2019 (WW100, ANZAC Day plus WW2 and later anniversaries, together with outlines of WW100 Lotteries Grants and the Australian plans for the period).

The conference was formally opened by His Excellency Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae with speeches from the Mayor Of Wellington Her Worship Celia Wade-Brown and the Prime Minister The Rt Hon John Key, who announced the progressing of the review of the War Pensions Act 1954 to the formal drafting of the revised Act to be presented to Parliament for debate in early 2013.

Details for the proposed package were released by the PM and the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs, The Hon Nathan Guy, over the period of the Conference. Details are available on the Veterans’ Affairs website www.veteransaffairs.mil.nz. It is anticipated that the Bill will undergo the select committee process during 2013 with changes to take place from 1 July 2014.

Tuesday 16 October

Before  official business began, the winner of the 2012 NBNZ Basset VC Speech, Jonathon Brumley, spoke of his visit to Gallipoli for ANZAC Day 2012 – a very impressive young man.

The meeting proper opened with procedural matters and the adoption of the 2011–12 Annual Reports and Accounts.

Elections were held for the 2 National Vice-Presidents (BJ Clark and David Moloney re-elected) and the 4 Elected Members of the National Executive Committee ( Bob ‘Bukit’ Hill, Graeme Pleasants and John Vincent re-elected, Clive Collingwood elected for his 1st term). Remits were then presented for debate and decision (those accepted are listed below).

The afternoon session was concluded with an address by The Hon Nathan Guy, Min of Veterans’ Affairs who gave details of the revision of the War Pensions Act – key points are:

  • An additional $60m for Veterans’ Affairs over the next 5 years
  • The key principles of the War Pensions Act 1954 will be retained
  • Benevolence remains the key principle
  • The beneficial evidential provisions will be kept and clarified
  • There will be an increased emphasis on support services
  • Notwithstanding the up-coming legislation, War Disability and Surviving Spouse Pensions will be increased by 5% (plus the annual CPI increase estimated at about 1.7%) from 1 April 2013.
  • No tax will be payable on lump sums.

Check the Veterans’ Affairs website www.veteransaffairs.mil.nz for details of the provisions of the draft Bill.

Wednesday 17 October

An address by the CDF Lt Gen Rhys Jones opened this session – he outlined:

  • Changes to the operational activities for NZDF over the next 12 months – withdrawal of the majority of troops from Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands (some training support may be deployed in these areas). The challenge will be to remain involved and committed to our region – the SW Pacific and SE Asia.
  • Planning for “Welcome Home” activities for personnel deployed in these areas in mid 2013
  • The recent changes to US/ NZ defence relations
    • Built on NZ operational reputation
    • Slow initially, now moving rapidly
    • Improving operational effectiveness
    • Amphibious training (trilaterally with Australia)
    • Ship visits to US Naval bases
    • Exchanges and postings
    • International access
  • Work on centennial activities 2014 – 2019
    • CDF is responsible for coordinating all NZ activities overseas
  • The future – savings programme is on track, pressures will be on manpower, and finances until 2020.
  • “Future 35” – aim is “Joint Operational Excellence”  - Operational Focus on:
    • Presence (SW Pacific/ SE Asia/ NZ)
    • Situational awareness – Intelligence, Targeting, Surveillance, satellite communications.
    • Response – tailored – Joint Amphibious Task Force (JATF) by 2015
    • Priorities
    1. People
    2. Sustainable operations
    3. JATF
    4. Re-investing in Defence
    5. Joint Enablers
  • RSA – NZDF relationship; RSA voice in defence is important to NZDF; the issue of the returning veteran in the next few years.

The conference closed at midday following usual procedural matters.

Remits accepted

  • RSA support for Malayan Veterans Assn submission on the effects of DBP insecticide on Malayan veterans
  • Capitation from RSAs to be based on members aged less than 90 years
  • Procedures for the processing remits to National Council clarified
  • The Passchendale Society (Inc) and The NZ Battle of Crete Assn (Inc) be admitted as Affiliated Organisations
  • Recognition as “returned members” for civilian personnel serving in conjunction with NZDF and eligible for NZOM and/or NZGSM
  • Rules relating to badges for Youth Members were clarified
  • A special remit relating to the issue of Christchurch RSA selling poppies other than those from the official supplier was negotiated, amended and finally agreed – Christchurch RSA will not distribute these poppies, no media release will be made by any party, Christchurch RSA is eligible to bid for the next contract for supply of poppies.