In spite of chilly, gusty conditions, about 150 people attended a rally at Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island to protest about recent changes to ferry fares.
Many people including local councillor Craig Ogilvie spoke at the meeting. Cr Ogilvie said “Transport will make or break this island.”
The crowd expressed unanimous opposition to Stradbroke Ferries actions and apparent lack of regard for local residents, businesses and visitors. A number of suggestions were made and loudly applauded, including a boycott of Stradbroke Ferries water taxi, and fostering the possibility of a new ferry company, as competition
Those present at the rally were invited to volunteer to join a community delegation to discuss the issues with Stradbroke Ferries. About a dozen people immediately volunteered. Petitions were also signed.
The meeting was covered in this television news story by Channel 7.
You can also read this report by the Redland City Bulletin.
When the new fares were introduced by Stradbroke Ferries, Chief Executive Dave Thompson said he hoped the new fares would encourage more tourists to the island and help the ferry company minimise costs, as reported by the Redland City Bulletin on 20 April.
Stradbroke Ferries had been invited to attend and address the Dunwich rally but did not attend.
Five Concerns about new fares
Island resident Elinor Drake has identified five key issues:
- Fares for islanders are – apart from more the more limited and uncertain new version ‘shopper return’ – increasingly expensive overall. For the cheaper fares offered [and they are ‘seasonally based’], one must travel at only certain times – regardless of emergencies or life’s demands which do not fit such a timetable.
Clearly in the busy holiday times, ‘shopper returns’ won’t even be possible.
- The old ‘shopper day return’ fare has been replaced with a more limited and uncertain [“standby basis” only] arrangement. You could make the ‘booking’, turn up and then be told there’s no room for you! Moreover, the booking has to be made by phone, so does not attract the old online booking discount.
- Local business operators and tradesmen have to suffer increased rates, which will either be absorbed by them [and diminish their livelihood], or be passed on to island customers. Residents will thus be paying the penalty for others’ increased ferry costs, as well as our own!
- Visitors too will be put off by the price hikes, so we foresee the fare increases having a negative impact on tourism – one of the mainstays of the island economy.
- When Transit Systems Pty Ltd acquired Stradbroke Ferries Pty Ltd in 2011, the ACCC concluded that this would lessen competition. We are now feeling the unfair impacts of a monopoly provider of vehicular ferry services.
Report by Redlands2030 – 23 May 2015