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More than 10,000 People Sign Petition for Regional Seniors Travel Card

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Ms Sonia Hornery MP, Mr Tim Crakanthorp MP and Ms Jodie Harrison MP, have this week lodged a petition of more than 10,000 signatures calling on the Government to make the Regional Seniors Travel Card fair for residents in the Newcastle Local Government Area.

The Regional Seniors Travel Card provides a $250 prepaid Visa card to seniors living in regional areas to help with the costs of travel.

The Newcastle Local Government Area (LGA) was excluded from receiving the new travel card but across the Wallsend, Newcastle and Charlestown electorates eligibility will see one end of the street get the card while their neighbours miss out.

Residents in suburbs such as Rankin Park, Elermore Vale, Black Hill and Adamstown Heights will be split, with some residents receiving the card and others not.

The NSW Government classified the Newcastle LGA as “metropolitan” and declared that they would be excluded from numerous projects and grant programs aimed at regional LGAs.

Since then, the Newcastle LGA has missed out on the Regional Sport Infrastructure Fund, Regional Cultural Fund, Community and Small Business CCTV Fund and the proceeds from the sale of the Snowy Hydro, but has also been ineligible for larger metropolitan grants with those only being available for Sydney based LGAs.

The petition will see a debate held on Thursday, 15 October.

State Member for Wallsend, Ms Sonia Hornery MP, thanked the more than 11,000 people who signed the petition.

“Yet again we see residents in the Wallsend electorate missing out because of arbitrary regional and metropolitan definitions.”

“We are being excluded from grant programs because we are no longer classified as regional but are also not eligible to apply for metropolitan grants because we are not in Sydney.”

“Whether it is sports, arts, tourism or transport funding, we are not receiving our fair share.”

“The Government needs to fix this and make sure residents in the Newcastle LGA are eligible for the new Seniors Travel Card,” Ms Hornery said.

Mr Tim Crakanthorp MP, State Member for Newcastle, said Newcastle seniors are struggling and the $250 travel card would make a huge difference in meeting their transport costs.

“This program is yet another example of the Liberals and Nationals deciding Newcastle’s metro or regional status as it goes in order to continually exclude us from government programs and they must reverse this decision.

“If you live in the Newcastle Local Government Area the Liberals and Nationals do not think you are worthy of the support, but your neighbours just down the road are. It’s just ridiculous that you’ve got people in Adamstown Heights that are eligible but people in Adamstown that aren’t; people in Fern Bay that are but people in Stockton that aren’t,” Mr Crakanthorp said.

State Member for Charlestown, Ms Jodie Harrison MP, said it is time for the Government to re-think its plans so that the benefits of the Regional Seniors Travel Card can be available equitably to the 2,500 pensioners in the Charlestown electorate who are currently being excluded.

“It’s nonsensical. No wonder people are confused about Government decisions.

“In this case, an arbitrary line on a map decides who gets Government assistance and who doesn’t,” Ms Harrison said.