Gareth Ward has defended the government’s decision to spend millions offering free car rego to some motorists at the same time it cuts back on funding for the Gong Shuttle.
From July next year drivers who spend more than an average of $25 a week on tolls over the course of a year will be eligible for free vehicle registration.
Mr Ward, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra, said the costs to government would be lower than reports of $100 million in the first year.
Mr Ward said the plan would cost the government between $23 and $32 million next year, climbing to $109-$122 million in 2023-2024.
It comes just weeks after the government announcement that it would drop its subsidy of the Gong Shuttle to 75 per cent of the $3 million running costs, with the remainder – $750,000 – to be made up by the introduction of fares.
”We already fund 75 per cent [of the cost],” Mr Ward said.
“The Gong Shuttle will be funded like every other public transport service in the state. I’m working with both the council and the university to try and make up the difference.
“The Gong Shuttle is not getting anything that anyone else anywhere else isn’t getting.”
Mr Ward said this move would give "relief” to some of the 20,000 Illawarra residents who commuted to Sydney for work.
“We’re recognising that people have raised with us the fact that tolls are expensive and the costs are becoming prohibitive for a lot of working families,” Mr Ward said.
“This is one way the government can give back to families and help ease cost of living pressures.”