November 15, 2017

District pensioners are demanding action from newly elected Member for Murray Austin Evans to address cost of living expenses for local residents, and particularly those on a government allowance.

They say the time for discussion on rising electricity costs is now over, and the NSW Government must act to ease the financial pressures.

At its meeting last week, the Berrigan Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association agreed to lobby Mr Evans to help in their fight.

Berrigan CPSA secretary Joni Jefferis said for many, the government’s pension allowance and additional energy rebate for pensioners was ‘‘laughable’’ in comparison to electricity bills.

She said many members are receiving bills that equal a full fortnight’s allowance.

‘‘Either the government needs to provide more allowance money, or cap electricity rates for pensioners,’’ Ms Jefferis said.

‘‘They keep talking about it year after year but don’t do anything and it’s unfair.

‘‘I think it needs to be re-addressed because people are struggling.’’

Ms Jefferis said avoiding high electricity bills is difficult for people living in the Southern Riverina, due to the extremely hot summers and the exceptionally biting winters.

She said Mr Evans must use this argument when lobbying Parliament on their behalf.

The Berrigan CPSA is also asking the NSW Government to consider establishing a bill paying point in Berrigan to provide assistance for older members of the community who lack computer skills.

They say the increasing trend of online payments and electronic bills means pensioners and the elderly are disadvantaged.

‘‘I know a lady who is 92 and she doesn’t know how to use a computer,’’ Ms Jefferis said.

‘‘The CPSA would like to see the Berrigan library or council offices used as locations where pensioners could pay their bills with the assistance of staff.

‘‘There are some people in Berrigan who can’t get to Finley because they only have mobility scooters. It would take a very long time to travel from Berrigan to Finley on a scooter.

‘‘Pensioners need to retain their independence, and many don’t have a carer or minder to assist them with paying expenses.’’

Ms Jefferis said concessions would go a long way to restoring confidence in the NSW Government, saying many pensioners feel they are ‘‘left in the dark’’.

‘‘It might sound harsh, but the reality is we’re being treated as if the government is waiting for us to drop off our perch,’’ Ms Jefferis said.

‘‘Some pensioners are aged only 65 or 70, and are hoping to push for at least another 20 years.’’

The CPSA’s demands were set out in a letter to Mr Evans, sent to the new local member last week.

Mr Evans yesterday started his first sitting week in Parliament since being elected last month.

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