Capes families call on State Government to show fairness in cost-of-living relief measures

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Local mum Taryn Prince says more cost-of-living support for regional families should be coming from the State Government.
Camera IconLocal mum Taryn Prince says more cost-of-living support for regional families should be coming from the State Government. Credit: Warren Hately/Augusta-Margaret R/RegionalHUB

Regional families are expecting the State Government to do more to tackle the rising cost of living pressures, unimpressed by last week’s move to give free public transport to students living in Perth.

While Premier Roger Cook pointed to a historic increase in the compensation payments for those in regional WA unable to access orange school buses, he wouldn’t be drawn on what else was in the pipeline to offer equal support to families in the Capes region.

In fact, canvassing a group of local women who cite the cost of living pressures as their biggest headache right now, none of them had heard of the Government’s “conveyance allowance” to compensate private car use for getting children to school.

Margaret River woman Taryn Prince, speaking on behalf of herself and her closest friends, said electricity credits were the only practical help received so far.

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“Unfortunately, the latest subsidies the State Government are offering, free public transport for metro, doesn’t help our families down here,” she said.

“Being we don’t have the same level of public transport, a fuel subsidy or fuel vouchers would help regional families with the amount of driving we have to do.

“Major doctors’ appointments or hospitals are 50 to 100km away, as well as major retailers or specialised schools.”

More subsidies for family costs like sports and children’s activities would help, Ms Prince said, noting those costs were among the first to be cut for families tightening their spending.

Shire president Julia Meldrum added her voice to the debate, saying State support for public transport services would benefit families.

“We are very conscious that the rising cost of living is putting pressure on our community and unfortunately regional areas are offered little support from State Government at this stage,” she said.

“Assistance with public transport would be very welcome.

“We know that it is very much needed and would assist our community members, young and old, to access not only critical services for facilities but also of course to reduce the reliance of car travel and carbon emissions.”

A State Government spokesperson told the Times a 30 cent bump in the compensation for private car travel came after electricity credits for all WA households designed to ease financial pressure on families they sheeted on rising interest rates.

“We’ve also put a range of targeted support measures in place, including expanding hardship programs, providing payments to grandcarers and foster carers, and putting in place new initiatives like the WA Rent Relief Program,” they said.

Liberal Party leader Libby Mettam said a lot more could be done.

“There is also a clear gap in the delivery of cost-of-living relief for those in the regions, who have been continually let down and forgotten since this Labor government was elected in 2017,” the Vasse MLA said.

“In a State that enjoying one of our biggest mining booms in history, it is inexcusable that we have 400,000 households struggling to put food on the table and many more Western Australians struggling to make ends meet.”

Ms Mettam also said the Government’s “city-centric approach” showed in changes to regional representation in State Parliament.

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