Queensland’s government is offering commuters cheaper fares or more services after saving $30 million on transport when the carbon tax was scrapped.
Do you want cheaper trains and buses or more of them?
That’s what the Queensland premier is asking residents after the government found a spare $30 million in the transport budget.
Premier Campbell Newman wants the unexpected windfall – gained when the carbon tax was scrapped – to be passed on to commuters.
He’s asking residents to choose between a five per cent reduction in public transport fares or more services.
“We have found $30 million worth of savings in the transport budget with the abolition of the carbon tax,” he told reporters in Brisbane on Sunday.
“We’re now asking Queenslanders, do they want a decrease in public transport fares or do they want more services?
“We think people should have their say, whether they be public transport commuters or just the broader members of the public.”
The $30 million had been earmarked to pay higher annual electricity bills and other costs that were forecast to be incurred by the public transport system with carbon pricing in place.
The Abbott government succeeded in abolishing Labor’s tax on carbon emissions on July 17.
Mr Newman said public transport fares are due to rise 2.5 per cent next year, in line with the consumer price index.
Now they could potentially be cut by five per cent from November, so the saving to commuters would effectively be up to 7.5 per cent.
However the premier wouldn’t rule out fare increases down the track and said the government would work hard to keep future price rises to CPI or less.
If Queenslanders opt for more services, 1000 extra train, ferry or bus services per week will be introduced across Queensland in 2015, in places where there is demand.
Transport Minister Scott Emerson said under the previous Labor state government, public transport fares rose 52 per cent in three years.
Residents have two weeks to vote and can do so by calling Translink or visiting their website.
Opposition MP Yvette D’Ath called the announcement a “bandaid vote grab” designed to win over Queenslanders ahead of next year’s election.
Ms D’Ath said Labor welcomed improvements in public transport but she questioned the government’s investment in public transport infrastructure.
“I think what we see here is no real forethought,” she said on Sunday.
“They haven’t put any policy around this, they’ve just come out, they’ve made an announcement to try to win support out there in the community.
“What we want to see is proper policy, strategic policy, being announced by this government.”