On Monday 1 August 2022, I made a speech in Federal Parliament about making public transport cheaper or even free. You can watch the speech here or read the full transcript below.
E WATSON-BROWN: More and more, everyday people are finding themselves struggling at the moment. Inflation is at a 20-year high. Wages are still stagnant and falling in real terms. One of the biggest strains on households is the cost of filling up the car. Public transport is, sadly, still too expensive, and usage is still hovering around two-thirds to three-quarters of pre-pandemic levels. Millions of people are instead stuck in traffic every day, this further fuelling the climate crisis. There's a very easy solution. Governments around the world are taking action. The German government has slashed fares for regional train travel by 90 per cent. In New Zealand, the government has implemented an emergency halving of public transport fares, which has now been extended until January next year. This has boosted public transport usage by over 30 per cent.
It's time Australia follows suit. Public transport should urgently be made cheap or even free. This will help everyday people struggling with the cost of transport, it'll get people out of traffic, and it'll reduce emissions. It's a no-brainer. If Germany can afford it and if New Zealand can afford it, Australia can afford it. And, if the government needs a place to look for how we'll fund it, I'd suggest the $204 billion wasted on tax cuts for the megarich would be a good place to start. So let's get cars off the road and more money back in people's pockets so they can afford the things that make life worth living—which sure as heck isn't being stuck in traffic!