Far From Super

February 2, 1999


In December last year the Union sternly protested to the Minister for Emergency Services over the Government’s bogus proposal to lure members off the “old” State Super Fund (SSF) and into the “new” First State Super (FSS). This is now expected to commence within weeks. Under normal circumstances this so-called “offer” would present so poorly that no member could seriously consider it. But by using some marketing tools that appeal to some members’ immediate need for cash, SSF members will shortly be asked to sell out your hard won benefits AND your family’s needs. Why? Because successive Governments can no longer afford their promises. Funnily enough, politicians from all sides ignored those concerns when they recently voted themselves hefty improvements to their own Super scheme. Whilst your Union has been demanding the SSF scheme’s death and disability benefits for ALL members, the Government is looking at the same time to erode our argument by eating away at our SSF membership and buying out your future. If this happens, the Union’s case for equity for the ever-increasing number of permanent firefighters on SASS and FSS (currently 50%) – not to mention the 100% of retained firefighters on FSS – will become just that much harder. Consider this: there are currently 3 superannuation schemes in operation for firefighters – the “old” SSF (pre-1986), the “middle” SASS (1985-1992) and the “new” FSS (1992 onwards, and all retained). All 3 schemes differ wildly in terms of benefits – particularly benefits for injured firefighters. I hardly need to tell you that firefighting is a dangerous profession. Let’s look at an example of 3 members of your crew all being crushed by the same brick wall at a job. All 3 are medically retired as a result of fighting the same fire while working in the same job under the same Award, yet all 3 will receive very different entitlements. To illustrate this, I’ll take 3 current members and their actual entitlements (including my own):

  • 6207 S/F Simon Flynn (age 35, joined NSWFB 1984, SSF member) will receive an ongoing pension of $881.26 per fortnight, indexed to the CPI.
  • 6606 S/F Chris Read (age 31, joined NSWFB 1986, SASS member) will receive a one off lump sum payment of $58,400 (roughly equivalent to only 2.5 years of S/F Flynn’s SSF pension, above) – that’s it!
  • 7223 Q/F John Wallworth (age 34, joined NSWFB 1993, FSS member) will receive $0.00 because his scheme’s insurer decided that although he’s incapable of firefighting, he will still be capable of working somewhere, anywhere else (eg as a toll-booth collector or telephonist).

To find out what you are (or are not) entitled to, telephone the State Superannuation Advisory Service on 9238 5666, or toll free 1800 451 112. Quoting your superannuation scheme and member number (they should still be able to help you if you’re unsure of your details), ask the following questions to compare your entitlements with your crew: Q1: In the event that I was killed on the job tomorrow, what would my family receive? Q2: In the event that I was injured tomorrow to the extent that I would never work anywhere ever again, what would I receive? Q3:In the event that I was injured tomorrow to the extent that I was medically retired from the NSWFB but still capable of some other work, what would I receive? The fact is that you shouldn’t get out of the pumper if you’re in SASS and if you’re an FSS member, you shouldn’t even be allowed to leave the Station! The Union is presently demanding an exemption from the SSF buy-out, and equitable treatment in terms of death and disability entitlements for our 1500 non-SSF members by the end of March. Failure to achieve either will result in a swift response. The Union’s State Committee will shortly announce arrangements for the holding of Special General Meetings of members: please make sure you attend. Don’t just take our advice – call State Super on the numbers listed above. If you aren’t angry then, you probably never will be. Chris Read State Secretary Tuesday 2nd February 1999



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