MEDIA RELEASE - Govt must honour its commitment to our Veterans

As the nation prepares to commemorate our veterans for ANZAC Day, Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison has called on the Berejiklian Government to honour its commitment to include regional veterans and their spouses in its trial of the Regional Seniors Travel Card (RSTC).

In late January the Barilaro/Berejiklian Government began rolling out its trial of the RTSC but excluded recipients of Department of Veterans’ Affairs aged and service pensions, disability pensions provided under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986, and war widow(er)s.

Ms Aitchison wrote multiple letters to the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads on behalf of Maitland veterans and their spouses, demanding that they be included in the program.

“In mid-February the Service NSW website was quietly amended to say that the trial would be extended to eligible senior veterans and their spouses,” Ms Aitchison said. “Regardless, the Government has failed to respond to my requests that it honour this commitment and has refused to say when it will actually issue our eligible Department of Veterans’ Affairs recipients with the cards.”

Ms Aitchison said that just yesterday a 92-year-old war widow called her office to ask for help finding out when she could expect to receive her card. After initially being ruled ineligible, the woman had applied over the counter at Service NSW. She has now been waiting six weeks for her card.

“This lady has undergone recent surgery and lives alone. The Regional Seniors Travel Card would enable her to use taxis to attend doctor and therapy appointments during her convalescence,” Ms Aitchison said.

Ms Aitchison said it was outrageous that, on the eve of ANZAC Day, and almost three months since the trial was launched, Maitland veterans and their spouses were still waiting.

“Not only have our veterans not received their cards, they have not even received an official notification that they are now eligible, let alone the courtesy of a response to their queries,” Ms Aitchison said.

“The Premier must immediately direct her Minister to show our veterans and their spouses the respect they have earned and deserve, especially today.”