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Byron Shire
September 21, 2023

More on the Nationals ‘transport card’

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Yesterday senior citizens of the Tweed Shire joined fellow seniors from both Barwon and Ballina electorates in receiving a personally addressed letter from their local National Party MPS.
The letters announced that if you vote 1 for the National Party, you will receive a $250 seniors transport card. A laminated fake card is also enclosed, with small print underneath stating this is a sample card and is not redeemable for cash.
My dictionary defines bribery as the act of offering someone money or something valuable in order to persuade them to do something for you, therefore I believe that these letters can most likely be classed as bribes.
Section 326 of the Electoral Act states that a person cannot give or confer any property or benefit with the intention of influencing or affecting the way a person votes. Perhaps the Nationals believe that promising something AFTER they are voted in is not bribery, but in the opinion of the general public these letters are probably bribes.
Add to this the fact that if the Court of Disputed Returns finds that an elected candidate has committed or attempted to commit bribery, it must declare the election of the candidate void. Thus a whole new scenario would emerge with possible court cases and costly by-elections having to be run, paid for once again by the taxpayers of Australia.
The ‘election carrot’ promise by Premier Berejiklian to the voters of Orange, giving them a new 25 million stadium ONLY if they vote the Nationals back in, has been described as election blackmail by Phil Donato, the incumbent  SSFP member.

When the Premier of our state resorts to these tactics, is it any wonder that her party faithful believe it is perfectly OK to offer their own “election carrots”?

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  1. The bribes were sent to addresses that were obtained from the NSW Seniors Card list. Not the commonly available electoral roll. Those over 60 who have retired or work a maximum 20 hours per week are entitled to this card that provides discounts. It is grossly irresponsible for the Nationals to obtain this information about names and addresses for political purposes. It is a gross invasion of privacy.

  2. There are many promises made by parties before elections that are premised on the party member being elected. Tamara Smith and Sue Higginson tells us that if elected they will use their position, perhaps in the balance of power to put in place a 50 year transport plan for our area. Asren Pugh and Janelle Saffin tell us Labor will also implement a transport plan for our region, with the benefit of it not being compromised by a need to appease those who would put a dirty diesel train back in our region. This promise no different. It does not state that only individuals who vote Nationals will get the card, but the card is of course premised on the LNP winning government. As such it is not a bribe at all, but simply an electoral promise.targeted at all eligible seniors, and it encourages them to vote 1 National so they can enjoy this little gift.


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