Shadow Minister for Seniors Jo Haylen MP and State Member for Electorate of Cessnock Clayton Barr MP Member have called on John Barilaro to explain why the Nationals have botched the rollout of their contentious Regional Seniors Travel Card.
It was revealed last month that the Nationals further delayed the scheme, with seniors in rural and regional NSW already hit by drought and fires unable to access the cards until mid-February at the earliest. They had promised during the election that it would be available by now.
Also, eligible seniors will be forced to apply for the card online, despite power lines and mobile towers being damaged by fires.
Shockingly, it was also revealed for the first time that the scheme would be a limited two year “trial,” as opposed to an ongoing program funded by the Government.
The Opposition earlier revealed that according to State Budget and Parliamentary Budget Office figures, the Government has only budgeted for 40% of eligible seniors taking up the $250 rebate on transport and fuel, meaning 60% of seniors may miss out unless the government tops up the program.
If 100% of eligible seniors took up the scheme, the scheme would blow-out by $135 million over three years, giving the NSW Treasurer a $135 million headache or eligible seniors missing out.
“The Nationals are more serious about election announcements than actually providing relief for seniors right here in the Cessnock Electorate,” said Ms Haylen.
”The more details are released about the card, the more we realise it was a tricky ploy for votes during the election.
“If the Nationals were serious about supporting seniors in the Electorate of Cessnock, why wouldn’t they just post these cards out to everyone who is eligible, particularly those affected by fires and drought?
“Nationals members weren’t upfront with people during the election that applying for the scheme would be a complicated process,” said Mr Clayton Barr, “They weren’t upfront that the cards are only available as a limited trial, either.
“The Nationals’ needs to explain these cheap political tricks and simply make the card available to everyone who is eligible for it.
“Meanwhile, it’s clear that the Treasurer is going to spend the next two years hoping 60% of seniors in the Cessnock Electorate have no interest in claiming $250 of free money.”