The Brisbane-centric Newman Government has singlehandedly lifted the cost of living for some of the state’s most remote residents by scrapping the former government’s subsidy on some regional air services, says Shadow Treasurer and Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt.
“Without making a public announcement, the Transport Minister, Scott Emerson, has slashed the Local Fare Scheme, otherwise known as the ‘$99 fare’ applying to selected services for Torres Strait and Cape York residents,” Mr Pitt said.
“I want to know if the LNP Member for Cook, David Kempton, supports this callous decision which is extremely bad news for his constituents. He needs to say today if he stands by his government’s cold-hearted decision.
“In October last year the then Transport Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a subsidy scheme costing $2.8 million from January 1 to keep air fares low in recognition of the fact Cape York and Torres Strait residents rely heavily on air services to access health, education and employment opportunities.
“Affordable air travel in the Cape and the Strait is not a luxury, but is essential and the scheme helped cuts the cost of fares for people travelling to their nearest service centre, either Horn Island or Cairns.
“The majority of the travel is used by locals to access health services including maternity services.”
Mr Pitt said air fares in the Cape and Torres Strait could easily be more than $200 one way, and the subsidy scheme reduced the ticket price on a limited number of seats to just $99.
“But as of today that scheme has been buried by the Newman LNP Government in a move that directly increases the cost of living for remote residents,” he said.
Mr Pitt said residents in Cape York communities including  Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw, Aurukun, Northern Peninsula Area, Lockhart River and Coen would be hit hard by the decision.
“These are people who already face the tyranny of distance when it comes to accessing services and the Newman Government simply doesn’t care that it is making life harder for them,” he said.
“While the Premier continually fusses over his pet project of a new Executive Building in the Brisbane CBD, he is causing the cost of living in remote areas to climb.
“What’s worse, he simply doesn’t seem to care,” Mr Pitt said.