Discounted Travel

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, NSW

Mike Baird grants discounted travel to asylum seekers

Date
June 26, 2015 – 1:05PM
“This group is one of the most vulnerable in our society”: Mike Baird. Photo: Chris Pearce

Asylum seekers in NSW will be eligible for the most generous travel concessions in the country, after Premier Mike Baird said the state had a responsibility to help those who had nowhere else to turn.

Asylum seekers who meet certain criteria will, from next year, be eligible for travel at $2.50 a day – the same travel concession available to those on the Gold Pension Concession Card.

“NSW is Australia’s economic powerhouse, but there is little point in having a strong economy unless we use this strength to help the vulnerable among us,” Mr Baird said in a statement.

“NSW has shown we are prepared to help asylum seekers in our community and we want to do even more,” he said.

“This group is one of the most vulnerable in our society, often living below the poverty line. Evidence suggests that lack of access to dispersed services is a key impediment to their health and well-being.”
Premier Baird’s stance marks a clear contrast with the federal government’s treatment of, and rhetoric towards, asylum seekers. The Premier, whose politician father Bruce resisted the Howard government’s policy toward asylum seekers, has already said Prime Minister Tony Abbott should do more to help the vulnerable.
Under the policy announced on Friday, applicants for concession travel must either be holding a bridging visa or applying for one, they must be over 17 years of age and receiving aid from a designated agency.

Mr Baird said: “Until now, it has been the non-government community agencies funding transport for asylum seekers in NSW. This change allows those NGOs to be putting more of their limited resources into food, counselling and housing – where it is needed most.”

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said: “We are providing these travel discounts to asylum seekers to help them participate more fully in our society and access a range of social and community services.

“Many of the asylum seekers in NSW are at the very start of the process of applying for a protection visa. This means that they need access to a wide range of services in order to navigate this process and rebuild their lives.”

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/mike-baird-grants-discounted-travel-to-asylum-seekers-20150626-ghyevf.html

One thought on “Discounted Travel

  1. “NSW Premier Mike Baird tells Prime Minister Tony Abbott: ‘do more’ to help refugees”
    This is what Mike Baird said on
    January 23, 2015

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/nsw-premier-mike-baird-tells-prime-minister-tony-abbott-do-more-to-help-refugees-20150123-12wwcj.html

    I copy here only second part of the article:

    “Mr Baird said Australia was part of a global community and “as a lucky country we have a responsibility to play in helping others as part of that community”.

    “NSW stands ready … to take more than our fair share. Yes, we have strength in our finances but my strong sense is that means nothing, unless we offer help to those who are vulnerable amongst us.”

    Mr Baird’s father, Bruce, was a former federal Liberal MP who objected to the Howard government’s mandatory detention of asylum seekers. Mr Baird snr is now chair of the Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council, which advises the federal government on refugee and humanitarian settlement in Australia.

    Refugee Council of Australia spokeswoman Lucy Morgan welcomed Mr Baird’s call.

    “In the current global context, it’s really imperative that countries like Australia start stepping up and providing more places to people fleeing persecution,” she said.

    “We are really at a point now, internationally, where needs are multiplying and there is a need for a more targeted and comprehensive response from countries like Australia, which are not at the front line of these crises and are not yet doing the heavy lifting.”

    Mr Abbott’s office did not respond to request for comment.

    A spokesman for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the government was “strongly committed to a well-managed humanitarian programme and Australia remains one of the top three refugee resettlement countries in the world”.

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