More than 20,000 Newcastle seniors have been excluded from the NSW Government’s Regional Seniors Travel Card program, despite it being available to those living in neighbouring local government areas.
The $250 card allows eligible seniors to save on fuel and taxis, and pay for pre-booked NSW Trainlink Regional trains and coaches, however Newcastle residents miss out due to the city’s classification as ‘metropolitan’.
For example, this means that seniors in Stockton cannot receive the card, but those in the neighbouring suburb of Fern Bay can.
“The people of Stockton and Fern Bay are living side by side and it’s ridiculous to see them divided this way,” Member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp said.
“Newcastle’s bus service has already been decimated by this Government – this would have made it easier for seniors to access vital services, but they’ve been left out in the cold again.
“This Government’s arbitrary and inconsistent classification of Newcastle as metropolitan or regional according to their whim is unfair and wrong.”
Shadow Minister for Seniors and Cost of Living Jo Haylen said the exclusion was another blow for seniors and pensioners who were already struggling with the cost of living.
“Seniors and pensioners are the people who need this help the most, and it shouldn’t matter where they live,” Ms Haylen said.
“There has been nothing fair about the rollout of this scheme - Newcastle residents should be just as entitled to this card as their neighbours in Lake Macquarie or Port Stephens.”