Labor Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson has come under fire from Maitland's Liberal councillors over her decision to send taxpayer funded printing to Sydney instead of "supporting local businesses and local jobs".
The four councillors claim Ms Swanson, who has made kick-starting the local economy with jobs and infrastructure projects a priority, snubbed local printing businesses.
Councillors Mitchell Griffin, Ben Mitchell, Kanchan Ranadive and Sally Halliday, estimate the electorate-wide mailout by Ms Swanson to more than 110,000 constituents would have cost "upwards of $70,000".
The Paterson MP was quick to shoot down the cost estimate, and said the only reason she used a Sydney printer at all was because of time constraints.
"Firstly, the printing and design for this mailout wasn't upwards of $70,000, but just over $13,000," Ms Swanson said.
"With the current COVID crisis we are in a tumultuous and rapidly changing environment, and holding the first ever 'Virtual Town Hall' Zoom hook-up on Wednesday was a challenging but important initiative to connect with my electorate.
"My office prioritises the use of local printers for our print and mailing. In some rare situations we require a fast turnaround. This mailout was time sensitive and I wanted to ensure that everyone in my electorate had the opportunity to have a say and let me know what their priorities were."
The four Liberal councillors pointed out that during their 2017 election campaigns they made sure they used Hunter printing companies for all flyers, corflutes, t-shirts and vests.
"This is a direct snub of local small and family businesses who could have used this printing work during a difficult time," Cr Griffin said.
He was supported by Cr Ranadive who said "it is a shame that the local member has not invested hard earned taxpayers money in her own region".
But Ms Swanson believes her track record on supporting local businesses speaks for itself.
"I am proud to support many local businesses including designers, photographers, and caterers," she said. "I have also ensured that during the COVID crisis I supported our local media outlets with regular advertising to help them continue during this very difficult time.
"You can also go to my website and find a map of local businesses to support. I encourage any local business to get in touch to be included."