A Foley-Labor Government has committed to keeping the Wollongong Shuttle free for passengers.

NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley visited Wollongong on Saturday and made the pledge following a fortnight of anger in the Wollongong and Illawarra community, in reaction to the Berejiklian Government’s decision to impose Opal fares from 29 January 2018.

Thousands of people have signed online and hard copy petitions launched by Illawarra MPs Ryan Park and Paul Scully- supported by the Illawarra Mercury- to keep the Gong Shuttle free.

Illawarra stakeholders ranging from the University of Wollongong, Illawarra Business Chamber, Wollongong City Council, Destination Wollongong, South Coast Labour Council and Transport Workers Union have all condemned the NSW Government’s decision to impose Opal fares on the free service.

Labor’s pledge also follows a fiery week in the NSW Parliament where the Berejiklian Government was sprayed with Notices of Motion, Questions on Notice and questions to the Premier and Minister for Transport to justify why this decision was made with no consultation.

The Premier, in endorsing comments by Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward, during Question Time on Tuesday stated “the Illawarra has never had it so good.”

In June 2013, she said “Can I assure you that the Wollongong service will continue forever more.”

The existing free Gong Shuttle was introduced by the former Rees-Labor Government in March 2009.

The shuttle service runs every 10-20 minutes and loops Wollongong Hospital, University of Wollongong, Wollongong TAFE, and Wollongong CBD.

Comments attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“This was a free service set up by Labor and we commit to keeping it free for the 3.3 million passengers who use it every year.

“Charging passengers for a free service reveals just how greedy the Berejiklian Government is. They’re trying to capitalise on a popular service and make you pay for the privilege.

“I commend the tireless work of Illawarra MPs Ryan Park, Paul Scully and Anna Watson in campaigning to keep the Gong Shuttle free.

“It’s also great to see The Mercury fighting so strongly on behalf of the community for the service.”

Comments attributable to Shadow Treasurer and Member for Keira Ryan Park

“This is a great announcement by Luke Foley and means that under a Foley Labor Government we will keep the Gong Shuttle free.

“This announcement also confirms why we need a Minister for the Illawarra to be at the Cabinet table when decisions are made.

“There is now a very clear point of difference between the Liberals and Labor – Gladys will charge an Opal fare for you to use the Gong Shuttle from 29 January 2018, and Labor will keep the service, as it has been, free of charge.

“This out-of-touch Government must reverse the decision to impose Opal charges.”

Comments attributable to Member for Wollongong Paul Scully

“Well, 3.3 million passengers can’t be wrong, but their needs have been ignored by the Berejikilan Government, which will stick its hand in their wallets and purses by charging Opal fares for using the Gong Shuttle service from 29 January 2018.

“The Premier is just so out-of-touch that she can’t even defend this decision instead arrogantly proclaiming that “the Illawarra has never had it so good.

“I’m very pleased that Luke Foley is back in Wollongong, on another of his many visits, to announce that a Labor Foley Government will keep the free Gong Shuttle service free!”

Quotes attributable to Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson

“You can’t trust this government. The Premier has broken her promise of 2013 to keep the Gong Shuttle free. “If they are re-elected in 2019, you can be sure they will break their commitment not to privatise Shellharbour Hospital.”