The Napthine Government should be condemned on its ‘double standards’ approach reinstating the conveyance allowance entitlement to select schools, after widespread cuts to the funding last year, Shadow Minister for Education, James Merlino said today.

As a result of direct Ministerial intervention, new students starting at a school in Mornington have been exempt from changes to the conveyance allowance, and are being allowed to travel without charge on the bus with their older siblings who are under the grandfather clause.

Mr Merlino today joined Member for Narre Warren South, Judith Graley, parents and students at St Francis Xavier College in Berwick to highlight the impacts of the Napthine Government’s cuts to the conveyance allowance on local families and students.

“Students at St Francis Xavier College no longer receive subsided public transport, whilst a school in Education Minister Martin Dixon’s own electorate of Nepean has been exempted,” Mr Merlino said.

“Minister Dixon can obviously see that changes to the allowance are harsh and impacting on families that go to school in his electorate, but what about students and families that are struggling in other parts of the state?

“Minister Dixon has had to resort to cutting back the conveyance allowance so that his Government can pay for its $8 billion tunnel that won’t relieve any congestion in the suburbs around Narre Warren South,” Mr Merlino said.

Ms Graley said that the conveyance allowance had been used by local schools to subsidise school buses to ensure there were transport options available to all students.

“Local parents have been forced to make difficult decisions about where to send their children to school in light of there no longer being an affordable transport option,” Ms Graley said.

Mr Merlino said that last year the Napthine Government outlined that the allowance would be stripped away from tens of thousands of Victorian students, in a move that was met with outrage in the community.

“Communities in newly established areas like Berwick and in regional and remote communities have been hit the hardest by these cuts,” Mr Merlino said.

“The Napthine Government’s decision to play favouritism in Liberal Party held seats are a slap in the face to families paying extra for transport costs for their children across the state.

“The changes to the conveyance allowance were always going to make it harder for hundreds of families across Victoria to simply get their children to school.

“Families and schools across Victoria are worse off and out of pocket as a result of the Napthine Government’s cruel cuts in education to pay for the $8 billion dud tunnel.”

Published on September 25, 2013