The Palaszczuk Government is delivering more affordable travel to Far North Queensland residents with a one-year extension of the Local Fare Scheme.
The scheme provides a discount of up to $400 for a return fare for eligible residents in Cape York, the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Torres Strait, facilitating affordable travel for access to health, education and allied services while promoting social and recreational connections.
Member for Cook, Cynthia Lui said almost 100,000 trips had been taken on the scheme since the Palaszczuk Government reintroduced it in July 2015, equating to a total investment of about $17 million into these communities.
“We’re pleased to be able to provide assurance to residents in these communities that travel will remain affordable until at least 30 June 2022,” Ms Lui said.
“This Budget is all about ensuring Queenslanders continue to have access to essential services, and extending the Local Fare Scheme is part of the Palaszczuk Government’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan.
“Many remote towns in the Far North are a whole day’s drive from regional centres such as Mt Isa and Cairns, so reduced flight costs really are a lifeline.”
Transport and Main Road Minister Mark Bailey said the Palaszczuk Government’s $54.5 million Essential Transport Services Package kept Far North Queensland travel operators afloat when COVID-19 hit.
“The Essential Transport Services Package kept planes in the sky, buses on the roads, and boats in the water across Far North Queensland,” Mr Bailey said.
“These are critical services helping get health workers to remote communities and residents to essential services.
“QantasLink, Regional Express (Rex), and Skytrans flights, Thursday Island ferries, and Cairns bus services were all given support.
“And we’ll be extending this support, with a further $16.3 million until the end of 2021, to make sure they keep going.”
Torres Strait Regional Authority Chairperson, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen AM, welcomed the extension.
“Safe, accessible and affordable transport options increase opportunities to access employment and social and cultural support services, including health and education,” Mr Stephen AM said.
“We’re thrilled to hear the Local Fare Scheme has been extended for another 12 months because it means so much more to these communities than simply cheaper flights.
“I encourage all residents of these communities to have a look at the criteria and apply for the scheme if they believe they may be eligible.”
To qualify for discounted flights, local residents require a Letter of Eligibility (LOE) from their local council or authority, which proves they have been a resident of eligible Local Fare Scheme areas for a minimum of three years.