Jo Haylen MP, Shadow Minister for Seniors and Cost of Living, has made an official complaint to the NSW Electoral Commission about the Nationals’ Regional Seniors Travel Card rort.
The complaint alleges language used by the Nationals in campaign materials “was kept deliberately vague so as to mislead voters around the eligibility of the program.”
The Nationals widely spruiked the signature policy during the 2019 NSW State election, promising seniors across regional NSW access to a free $250 card for transport and fuel. Service NSW offices have reportedly been flooded with calls and visits from angry and confused seniors who have been denied access to the cards.
The complaint notes that seniors reasonably believed during the election that they would be eligible for the scheme, only to find out afterwards that they weren’t. Thousands of regional seniors have been rejected because they are on a Disability Support Pension or receive carers payments.
The letter also cites an apology from Dugald Saunders, Member for Dubbo, in response to criticism that superannuants and annuity earners were now excluded from the scheme despite election material clearly stating they would be eligible.
Saunders admitted “we accept the party could have used clearer language and we apologise for any miscommunication.”
“This was an election lie, pure and simple,” said Ms Haylen.
“The Nationals campaigned on the promise that seniors in regional NSW would get a $250 voucher for travel.
“It’s absolutely clear now the Nationals mislead voters in a desperate attempt to save their seats in the bush and their actions should be investigated.
“We all know that Nationals are well practiced at election pork barreling but to play on the hope of vulnerable older people is nothing short of shameful and they should face up to the consequences.”