More than 250,000 seniors across Western Australia will benefit from a $50million commitment by Federal Labor to establish across-state travel concessions.
Welcoming the announcement, Seniors Minister Sue Ellery and Federal Member for Perth Stephen Smith said seniors in WA had been lobbying the Howard Government for several years to introduce reciprocal travel entitlements.
“The National Reciprocal Public Transport Entitlement scheme under a Rudd Labor Government will ensure about three million Australians, including State Government Seniors Card holders, will have access to public transport concessions that apply in the State or Territory they are visiting,” Mr Smith said.
“The call for a national Seniors Card scheme has gained momentum over the years with seniors’ organisations lobbying at State and Federal levels.
“These moves have been driven by the increased mobility of seniors as tourists, or through them visiting family living in other States and Territories of Australia.
“Federal Labor’s commitment, which includes long distance rail travel, is one part of the ‘Making Ends Meet’ plan announced today for older Australians, people with disabilities and carers.”
Ms Ellery said the WA Seniors Card was the most generous seniors card program for the country in terms of providing State Government concessions.
“It is currently estimated to enable a household to save up to $1,500 per year in reduced State Government fees and charges,” she said.
“With the population of over 60-year-olds in WA expected to expand to 773,338 in 2031, and with older people becoming increasingly active, Federal Labor’s investment will deliver a significant improvement to the mobile lifestyles of older people.
“It will mean that the hundreds of thousands of WA seniors who already receive great benefits from our seniors card program will be further advantaged.”
Council on the Ageing WA executive director Ken Marston welcomed the proposal and said reciprocal travel entitlements were a high priority for seniors groups.
“This would be a valuable contribution to seniors’ lives and it is something that seniors have been looking forward to for many years,” he said.
Mr Smith said a Rudd Labor Government would negotiate with State and Territory Governments to ensure national reciprocal public transport concessions for seniors were in place no later than January 1, 2009.”
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