Council refuses to make SMBI residents keep paying for free inter-island travel

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said an announcement by the State Government that they would fund inter-island travel on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands (SMBI) was a win for the community.

“Minister for Transport Mark Bailey and Kim Richards have been trying to get Council to continue making residents pay through the SMBI Translink levy to cover the free inter-island costs but Council refused,” Cr Williams said.

“Residents have been paying $950,000 a year to have Translink services on the SMBIs and the agreement always was for this levy to conclude at the end of this year, so there was no way I was going to let them continue slugging residents.

“Now the State Government has come out saying they have had to save the day because Council weren’t prepared to cover the costs.  This ignores the fact that the costs were paid by SMBI residents so the Minister and Ms Richards are effectively saying residents should keep paying the $950,000 a year.

“The Deputy Premier wrote to Council in November 2015 stating ‘no financial contribution for the funding of the SMBI ferry services is required from RCC beyond December 2018.’  This was a legal agreement and residents met their obligations.”

Cr Williams said the SMBI Translink levy was never designed to cover the costs of free inter-island transport as claimed by Ms Richards and Minister Bailey in today’s announcement.

“The State Government has been collecting $950,000 from residents for something that by their own admission costs $400,000 so where has the other $550,000 a year gone?

“The first suggestion I heard that the levy was paying for free inter-island travel was when Minister Bailey and Member for Redlands Kim Richards met with me and requested that residents continue to pay the levy.

“Residents have paid enough for something that is freely available to other residents in South East Queensland, why should they have to pay more?”

Cr Williams said the announcement by the State Government claiming they had ‘intervened’ to save free inter-island ferry travel because “Council weren’t prepared to cover these costs”, was misleading and insulting to residents.

“What an insult to SMBI residents to ask them to continue paying and then pretend to be the saviour.   They are Robin Hood in reverse, they have been taking money from the residents who need it most and where has it gone?

“If the State Government had just announced they were covering the cost of the free inter island travel I would be the first to congratulate them, but to try and score cheap political points by spreading mistruths is underhanded and insulting to the residents who have been paying it.”