A group of Wollongong pensioners who are ineligible for the $250 Regional Seniors Travel Card met with NSW Labor’s Shadow Minister for Seniors and Cost of Living, Jo Haylen, and Member for Wollongong, Paul Scully, today to vent their frustrations at their exclusion from the transport scheme.
Mr Paul Scully invited Ms Haylen to meet with local Wollongong pensioners after he was inundated with calls from angry seniors living in the Wollongong local government area, on the impact of the Berejiklian Government’s decision to exclude the whole local government area from accessing the Travel Card.
The new card provides $250 to help pay for fuel and taxi fares and to pre-book NSW Trainlink and coach services.
Currently, seniors living in the Shellharbour local government area are eligible to access the card, while those living in the Wollongong local government area are not – an exclusion that the Berejiklian Government made no mention of when the scheme was promised at the last election.
“It is the dishonesty and arbitrariness of the inclusions and exclusions that frustrate people so much.
“Access to transport on the northern side of Windang Bridge is the same as the southern side and I can understand why people are so upset by their exclusion when their neighbours are eligible”, Mr Scully said,
The southern suburbs of the Wollongong local government area are among the most transport disadvantaged and economically disadvantaged in the state, yet the Government has refused to extend the program to pensioners and veterans in Wollongong.
Ms Haylen lodged an official complaint to the NSW Electoral Commission about the Regional Seniors Travel Card, alleging that language used in campaign materials to promote the card “was kept deliberately vague so as to mislead voters around the eligibility of the program.”
“This was an election lie, pure and simple.
“Liberal and Nationals candidates campaigned during the 2019 election on the promise that seniors in regional NSW would get a $250 voucher for travel” Ms Haylen said.
“This Government has a history of excluding people in the Wollongong Local Government area from funding programs and its performance in the provision of transport is lacking.” Mr Scully said.
“It appears as though they consider Wollongong local government area as not extending beyond Wollongong CBD despite it stretching from Helensburgh to Windang.
“Minister Ward says that you’ve got to draw a line somewhere, but why is it that the line always seems to be drawn on Wollongong Council boundaries.
“Local MP’s like Lee Evans who represents the northern suburbs of Wollongong should be just as upset and speaking out about the exclusion too. He has to take some responsibility for the Government decision”, Ms Haylen said.