Labor has announced groundbreaking policy to allow school children to enjoy free travel on public transport.
Official department forecasts obtained under freedom of information laws reveal that the Berejiklian Government is set to charge children $44 million in transport fares in 2019-20.
Labor’s Fair Fares policy will forego this revenue to abolish all charges for children under 16 years of age or while they remain at school.
This is the first major policy announcement for Mr Daley since being elected as Labor Leader at the weekend and signals his priorities. He made the announcement at Mortdale Station in the seat of Oatley alongside Deputy Leader Penny Sharpe, Shadow Transport Minister Jodi McKay and Labor’s candidate for Oatley, Lucy Mannering.
Mr Daley recognises that the cost of public transport for children is putting increased pressure on families who are already struggling with higher power bills, tolls and a host of state taxes under the Berejiklian-Barilaro Coalition Government.
Under the current rules primary school-aged children are eligible for free travel only when travelling to and from school, and if their home is more than 2.3 kilometres away by walking, rising to 2.9 kilometres for secondary school-aged children.
Labor’s Fair Fares policy recognises these restrictive and arbitrary conditions make it harder for families, or those participating in after school or weekend sport.
Free bus and train travel will also encourage children to use public transport more and ease congestion on Sydney’s already clogged roads.
The free travel for school children initiative is in addition to Labor’s commitment to refund train fares for passengers for avoidable delays to their journey, and lowering the station access fee for the airport to $5.
Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley
“My wife Christina and I understand the challenges families face in this State.
“Families need Governments to give them a hand with both the time pressures and the financial pressures that I know you feel.
“Well, it’s time the Government listens to you and works to make your life easier – like getting your kids to school for free.
“Ms Berejiklian and her government just doesn’t understand and just doesn’t care about the pressures you’re under. She’s too busy putting tolls on our roads.
“Under my government, we will get your kids to school for free and work to make your lives just that little bit easier.”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Transport Minister Jodi McKay
“Children shouldn’t be penalised by being forced to walk to school across busy roads because they don’t fit into some arbitrary prescriptive rule. Labor’s policy directly addresses that and puts children and families first.”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Treasurer Ryan Park
“Gladys Berejiklian is clueless when it comes to the pressure on the cost of living and that’s why she would never come up with a policy like this.”
Quotes attributable to Jo Haylen, Member for Summer Hill
“This policy will encourage kids and families to use public transport, and that's good for the environment and good for congestion on our roads."