Federal MP Andrew Gee has defended the use of taxpayer money to send birthday cards to residents.
Mr Gee was responding to criticism published in the Central Western Daily from reader Kate Bailey, who said that sending out cards was not only a breach of privacy but a waste of money.
"Andrew Gee has ... access, as an MP, to the Electoral Roll, which contains names, addresses and dates of birth of all the voters in the Calare electorate," she wrote.
"To use the birth dates for any purpose is an abuse of power and an invasion of privacy.
"I am so outraged that I want the people of the Calare electorate to know what Andrew Gee is using taxpayers' money for."
Mr Gee said that his staff "send out a lot of cards every month to mark significant birthdays, as do the other state and federal MPs in our region".
"It's a bit old fashioned sending them snail mail, but I think it's a lovely way to help people feel connected to our community, particularly elderly residents and particularly in COVID when people have felt isolated and alone," he said.
Mr Gee said he was "constantly getting appreciative feedback about the cards".
"In fact, I'm often told that the card is the only contact some people receive at all on their birthday."
The MP said his office was "currently looking at how we could go digital with the cards".
He said "if folks contact us and ask not to receive one, we're always happy to take them off the list".
Mr Gee wouldn't specify how much was spent on cards each year, but said "our electorate expenses are approved by the Department of Finance, comply with the rules and are published online".
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