Voters offered $250 election ‘bribe’ by NSW Nationals
Seniors in regional NSW will get $250 in free petrol and transport each year - with the new policy the greatest play yet by the NSW Nationals to win regional votes.
But the new policy has already been shrouded in controversy with electoral material delivered to houses in western NSW referred to the Electoral Commission over concerns it frames the policy as a "bribe".
It's understood the Regional Seniors Transport Card was a secret policy that was meant to be under wraps until Sunday when it was due to be unveiled at the party's election launch in Queanbeyan.
The letter, from Barwon candidate Andrew Schier, reads: "Vote 1 The Nationals to get your Regional Senior Transport Card".
"The Regional Seniors Transport Card offers an annual $250 discount on fuel and travel costs, making it easier to get to the shops, the doctor or just to visit family and friends.
"The people in the big cities can jump on subsidised public transport whenever they like - I think it's only fair you get something as well."
The letter says people are eligible for the card if they're an aged pensioner or a superannuation and annuity income earner who lives in regional NSW.
"It's that simple. You can use it for petrol, or to pay for the existing concession fares on regional trains and buses," the letter says.
"I wanted to make sure you aren't left behind, and I know this card will help level the playing field. You've spent a lifetime contributing to the community, now it's your time to get something back."
Independent MP Jeremy Buckingham has referred the election material to the Electoral Commission claiming it's a "bribe" that breaches electoral rules.
"I believe that a reasonable person may read the material and believe they will receive a direct benefit of $250 if they vote 1 for the National Party candidate - in other words a bribe," his letter to the Commission says.
"Further the Nationals Candidate for Barwon Andrew Schier, writes in the letter, it's your time to get something back". This insinuates there will eba direct benefit for the voter."
The NSW Nationals have been contacted for comment.