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Monday, February 3, 2014

Injustice rules, O.K.?

We have never for a moment regretted coming to live in Australia, but it's not been without some slight financial sacrifice. Slight - but extremely unjust.
First: had we decided to retire to the Costa Brave, or Russia, or Thailand , or the South of France or even America, we would receive our retirement pension together with whatever small increase the UK government might from time to time make to it. Because we decided instead to retire to a Commonwealth country, our pension was frozen at the moment we left British shores. The resulting anomalies are ridiculous: a woman living in the north of the US gets the increase while her brother living half a mile over the border in Canada, does not. You will not find a single person, I believe, who does not think this completely unjust; all Members of Parliament agree that it is unjust; no doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer would agreed that it is unjust - but the Government 'cannot afford' to do anything about it. There are people living in Australia on retirement pensions stuck at the 1955 level (they have even offered to give up their entitlement, and not ask for back pay, if the situation is rectified. The only result is a sneer from the Government.)   To everyone's astonishment, when the case was taken to the Hague, the Court of Human Rights found they could do nothing to rectify the position. The Government could, of course; but no political party will agree to do so.
The itch began itching today in a slightly different way when I received notification of a small payment from UK PLR - the Public Lending Right set up years ago to reward authors for their books borrowed for free from public libraries; a tiny sum is now paid each time one's book is borrowed. Except - oh, yes, except - that the Government has applied to PLR the same rule they apply to the retirement pension; i,e., I have not been allowed to register for payment any book published since I left the UK, though it be published in England. So people all over the UK are able to borrow and read my books free - the very anomaly PLR was set up to rectify.
I'm not, honesty not, complaining because of the money involved - it would probably be just about enough to buy a meal in a middling-priced restaurant. But it's so bleeding UNJUST!

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