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Barnett wilfully deceived Tasmanian pensioners with Christmas mistruth

  • Both Barnett and Gutwein knew rebate could not be delivered within their timeframe
  • Government waited more than 40 days to tell Aurora about rebate plan
  • Deliberate untruth left thousands of pensioners disappointed

Desperately deceitful Energy Minister Guy Barnett deliberately disappointed thousands of Tasmanian pensioners by telling them a rebate would be delivered in time for Christmas when he knew the timeframe could not be met.

Labor Member for Elwick Josh Willie said documents obtained through Right To Information revealed Mr Barnett and Treasurer Peter Gutwein were told there was no guarantee the $125 cheques to pensioners could be delivered despite their promise it would be in the mail for Christmas.

Mr Willie said the rebate stunt had been a fiasco from the beginning, with Mr Barnett announcing it on October 10 last year but waiting until November 21 to inform Aurora of the plan.

Documents obtained by RTI show Aurora Chair Caryle Demarte wrote to Mr Barnett and Mr Gutwein on November 30, saying:

“Aurora Energy is endeavouring to undertake all activities possible to ensure that the requests through the Direction are met. However, it must be noted that there is a reliance on external parties Centrelink and banking partner Westpac to ensure timely distribution of the bonus to Pensioner Concession Card holders, and as such, we are unable to bind these parties to ensuring that payments will be made by 20 December 2017.”  Caryle Demarte, Chair, 30 November 2017

“Mr Barnett knew here was a strong likelihood there would be delays but he still continued to promise pensioners their cheques would be delivered in time for Christmas,” Mr Willie said.

“He knew well in advance that there were issues and he deliberately deceived thousands of pensioners and ultimately many of them did not receive their cheque until last week.

“When it went horribly wrong Mr Barnett had the hide to blame the bank.

“There’s no doubt Mr Barnett will today – again – be full of excuses but he needs to apologise for leading pensioners astray.

“What he fails to realise is that it matters because the Tasmanians who were expecting an additional $125 are mostly on a low fixed income and it is not inconceivable that they would have factored that money into their Christmas spending.

“It’s appalling behaviour from a Minister who tried to buy voters and failed spectacularly.”