Driving down island transport costs
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie says lobbying to drive down the costs of passenger travel and freight for the Kangaroo Island community is one of her highest priorities while in office.
Speaking at the Business Kangaroo Island annual meeting on November 14, the NXT MP said the cost of transport was the most common concern raised by residents, farmers, traders and tourism operators on the island.
“Even at the Parndana Show on Saturday, the vast majority of people who spoke to me or my staff at our NXT stall came to talk about the cost of travel of themselves and goods on and off the island,” Ms Sharkie said on Tuesday.
“It was a concern raised by farmers who felt they could not expand their business and even a mother who, due to family issues and a child’s illness, has had to travel to the main land 14 times so far in the past year.
“While the new freight port proposal by KIPT will hopefully make freight costs more competitive and the airport upgrade might also lower travel costs, I am already lobbying the State Government to address ferry costs.
“I will be speaking loudly and consistently to the decision makers about island transport to make sure they are aware about the stranglehold on business expansion and the inequity of opportunity and access to services for Kangaroo Island residents.”
Ms Sharkie recently raised the cost of transport with the State Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Leon Bignell, and State Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan.
The local Member also met with Premier Jay Weatherill last week where, besides travel, they talked about lobbying for more Federal funding for the Kangaroo Island road network.
“My discussions with Premier Weatherill and Minister Mullighan left me with the impression that the State Government is acutely aware of the cost of both freight and passenger travel to the island,” Ms Sharkie said.
“The State Government is very supportive of our intent to approach Federal Transport Minister Darren Chester about making the island part of the National Highway Network.”
Ms Sharkie also told Business Kangaroo Island about her work to increase funding for Kangaroo Island students.
“I have spoken personally with the Federal Education Minister, SA Senator Simon Birmingham, to ask him to increase the rebate Kangaroo Island students receive while taking excursions to Canberra,” she said.
“At the moment Kangaroo Island students receive a $60 rebate which is on par with students from Adelaide, despite the fact that a return ferry trip for a student is $80.
“Tasmanian students receive an extra rebate for air and sea travel, and I will be pushing for Kangaroo Island students to receive the same.”