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Barnett Misleads Over Pensioner Payment Advice

6 Dec 2017

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens’ Leader

Energy Minister, Guy Barnett, today wilfully refused to answer questions in GBE hearings on the $125 pre-election payout to pensioners.

During scrutiny of Aurora Energy, Minister Barnett confirmed a letter on Tasmanian Government letterhead and containing a $125 cheque would be sent out to 81,000 Tasmanian households.

On six occasions Mr Barnett refused to state whose names and signatures would be on the letter, including whether it would be the Premier, or if it would be individual names and signatures of each local Liberal MP for letters sent out to their electorate.

Why the secrecy?  Is it because an honest answer would reveal this alleged cost of living measure for what it is, an election bribe?

When asked why Aurora didn’t simply credit eligible customers’ accounts, Minister Barnet claimed he had received advice from Aurora Energy that sending out a letter and cheque to 81,000 Tasmanian households, was the most efficient way to distribute the $125 payment. He proceeded to shut down questions to Aurora Energy’s CEO on whether such advice had been provided.

Given that taxpayers are footing the $500 000 bill for the mail out, the Minister must produce this advice.

Producing and mailing 81,000 letters and 81,000 cheques at a cost to the public purse of $500 000 could never be cheaper than using Aurora’s billing system to automatically credit eligible customers accounts with $125.

Minister Barnett is being dishonest. He has no choice but to produce the advice he assured the Committee that he received.

If no advice is produced, the Premier should have the integrity to recall parliament to scrutinise another one of his Ministers who has been caught out misleading a Parliamentary committee.