Call for card funds to help fuel recovery

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
The WA Nationals are calling on the State Government to give regional pensioners some financial relief when they fill up at the bowser.
Camera IconThe WA Nationals are calling on the State Government to give regional pensioners some financial relief when they fill up at the bowser. Credit: Supplied

The WA Nationals are calling on the State Government to give regional pensioners some financial relief when they fill up at the bowser.

South West MLC Colin Holt has asked the Government to consider rolling over into the next financial year any unspent money left on the Country Aged Pension Fuel Cards.

The call comes as many pensioners are self-isolating at home to protect their own health at the advice of the State and Federal health ministers.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan has said the State Government was “considering all options” to support people living in regional WA.

The fuel card program is aimed at creating a balance for regional pensioners who are unable to access free public transport available in Perth but not available in the regions.

The program, which gives eligible regional pensioners $575 per year towards fuel, usually reset on July 1 regardless of the card’s balance on June 30.

Mr Holt is asking the State Government to roll over unspent funds to the 2020-21 financial year.

“There must be many card holders who have been staying home because the government has told them to,” Mr Holt said.

“Many of these card holders will be playing their part in the fight against COVID-19 by staying at home and adhering to health advice on socialising and travel, which we encourage and applaud.”

According to the Nationals, the underspend on the fuel cards in previous years sits at about 8 per cent, but this would likely be higher this year due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

“People are in lockdown and doing a lot less travel,” Mr Holt said.

“It’s in the budget, why not just carry it over.

“It could be a kind of mini-stimulus when people are able to travel again.”

Ms MacTiernan did not rule out the roll-over, saying the State Government was looking a a variety of measures to support West Australians.

“We are considering all options to support people in the regions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and during recovery,” Ms MacTiernan said.

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