Dawesville MP and opposition spokesman Zak Kirkup has raised fears half of all Mandurah WA Seniors Card holders might lose their entitlements under a plan yet to be announced by the state government.
Premier Mark McGowan has refused to rule out means testing access to the popular cards, which are currently available to all people 61 years of age or older and who work less than 25 hours a week.
According to Mr Kirkup, a means test would restrict access to the cards to seniors on a Commonwealth pension.
Of the 20,903 seniors card holders who live in the City of Mandurah, only about 10,000 have a pension.
Mr Kirkup said in his district of Dawesville, the number of WA Seniors Card holders would be cut from 11,519 to 5612.
“These changes are up in the air and from the best deduction I’ve made, if [the Premier] wants to means test it, the way he’ll likely do that is to tie it to those who receive a pension,” he said.
“If that’s the case, what we’d see in the district of Dawesville is that nearly one in two people will lose access to the WA Seniors Card.”
Although Mr McGowan confirmed he was “looking at all aspects” of the seniors card because of the precarious nature of the state budget, he said it would continue in some form.
“The issues around budget repair and saving the state’s budget will require everyone across the community to contribute,” he said on 6PR on Tuesday.
“Western Australians, whether you’re eligible for a seniors card or you’re not, or you’re younger or older, you don’t want to burden future generations of children and grandchildren with massive levels of debt they can never pay off.”
But Mr Kirkup said restricting access to the WA Seniors Card wouldn’t save much money.
“The impact to the state government will be minimal at best especially when it comes to public transport usage and things like that,” he said.
“By far, this has very little upside for the state government as they try to scrounge around for money to fund their $5 billion worth of election commitments, but has a significant negative impact on the broader community in Mandurah.”
Mr Kirkup said Mandurah and Dawesville would suffer a double hit because of the reliance by seniors on the train to access medical appointments in Perth and rebates on local government rates.
“We are a regional town, which means we are disconnected from the city and a lot of people rely on the train to get on with the business of their life, so reducing the concession availability to seniors’ use of subsidised or free transport is just outrageous and I think completely unjustified,” he said.
“I recognise there are budgetary constraints for the government of the day, but you can't shift the blame and say that as a result we need to hit what I believe is the most vulnerable or reliant in the community, those who need this card.”
Seniors minister Mick Murray said on Monday it was too early to comment on changes to the seniors card.
“On the seniors card, there’s a budget to be set and the treasurer will be letting us know what we can have and what we can’t have in the next week or so,” he said.
Opposition leader Mike Nahan said the proposed changes would be an attack on self-funded retirees.