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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

States urged to reduce the cost of interstate travel for seniors

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today said older Australians should use Seniors Week in Victoria, NSW and the ACT to encourage state and territory governments to accept a new offer to provide State Seniors Card holders with access to interstate public transport concessions.

She said the Australian Government had committed $25.5 million over four years in the 2002-03 Budget so that state and territory governments could offer concessional fares on public transport for State Seniors Card holders travelling outside their home state.

“Despite this generous funding package and a lot of hard work, to date state and territory governments have refused to provide these concessions to seniors,” Senator Patterson said.

“I wrote to state and territory governments early in February with an improved offer which will give states and territories more flexibility in offering cheaper fares to visiting seniors, yet to date only Western Australia and Northern Territory have replied.

“State Seniors Card holders travelling outside their home state stand to receive a minimum 35 per cent discount on public transport fares in areas nominated by the state or territory government – all it needs is for states and territories to come on board.

“With over 2.3 million State Seniors Card holders in Australia, our seniors and self-funded retirees are a mobile group who are supporting Australian tourism and injecting tourist dollars into local businesses during their travels.

“At the moment, in most states and territories, State Seniors Card holders only receive public transport concessions when they travel in their home state.

“Despite the Australian Government working closely with state and territory governments for some time they still have not agreed to pass on the concessions to people who have contributed so much to their local community and economy.

“Providing these discounts for our seniors while interstate is just one way we can recognise and acknowledge the contribution our seniors, including self-funded retirees, have made and continue to make to Australia,” Senator Patterson said.