Patient travel subsidy to improve - if SA Liberals re-elected
The South Australian Liberal Party has promised that if it is returned for a second term in government it will double the subsidy for country patients' travel costs for treatment.
During a visit to the south-east of the state with Mackillop MP Nick McBride, Premier Steven Marshall declared on Thursday that the per-kilometre rate would rise from 16 cents to 32. The Premier noted:
"This is the first increase to the travel subsidy rate in more than 20 years. For the entire 16 years that Labor was in Government, it remained stuck at 16 cents."
Liberal candidate for Flinders, Sam Telfer, told Flow listeners on Thursday residents of the state's Eyre Peninsula and West Coast were heavy users of the scheme, while Chaffey MP covering the Riverland and Mallee, the Liberals' Tim Whetstone said:
"We've seen for a long time people have been disadvantaged living in the regions and travelling to Adelaide for treatment of visits.
"That recompense is part of the bigger picture. We know that travel costs are expensive as are accommodation costs, as is the hardship of leaving your family, workplace and travel a 6-hour round trip to Adelaide as well as deal with your health concerns or having treatment. The PATS scheme is a great initiative and we're now seeing a reasonable recompense to help people pay the bills and cover the costs to travel to Adelaide"
The Labor Opposition did not respond to questions as to its policy position on the funding for the PATS program.
The Nationals' state president and candidate for Mackillop, Jonathan Pietzsch welcome the move on Friday but said he believed it ought, in future, to be indexed and adjusted proportionate to the actual cost of travel.