Richmond MP Justine Elliot
Richmond MP Justine Elliot

Pollies' spat over utilities

THE Tweed has been rocked by its own “ute-gate”- a pensioners' Utilities Allowance scandal that is.

New South Wales North Coast Nationals senator Fiona Nash has been accused of misleading the elderly after her publication stated the pension Utilities Allow- ance had been “abolished” in the Federal Budget.

Richmond MP and Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot has called for an immediate public apology from Ms Nash.

But Senator Nash has stood by her newsletter and refused to get personal with her sparring partner.

“Fiona Nash must apologise to pensioners living on the North Coast right now for her deliberate scaremongering,” Mrs Elliot said.

“This is an embarrassing display of deliberate deception and she should be ashamed. Her credibility is gone. This is a new low for the National Party. She should be embarrassed at these attempts to scare our older residents.

“A cursory glance at the Budget papers reveals that the Rudd Government has simplified the system and increased the payment to the benefit of all pensioners.

“Nash should be informing our local pensioners of the significant increases for pensioners the Rudd Government is introducing on 20 September instead of playing politics with pensioners' hip pockets.”

According to Ms Nash it was true the Federal Government would no longer pay pensioners a stand-alone utilities allowance from September, and its replacement would not be enough.

“This will be incorporated into a pension supplement which will be built into the pension," Ms Nash said. This will result in increased payments to pensioners of up to $32.49 for singles and $10.14 for couples as stated in the newsletter article. This new Pension Supplement is inadequate to cover the energy price increases faced by North Coast pensioners.

“From July 1, household power bills will rise by $200 per year and North Coast petrol prices will go up by up to 8.35 cents per litre, because of decisions by the NSW Labor Government to allow a 20 per cent increase in electricity charges and its abolition of the Petroleum Products Subsidy Scheme.



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