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Premier promises free travel for carers
A grumpy Premier, Colin Barnett, speaking at The Carers Centre yesterday. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

The Liberal Party moved to shore up its credentials in the social service sector with an election pledge yesterday of free public transport for 8500 carers at a cost of $1.2 million over four years.

As Colin Barnett dismissed Labor's claim he had his priorities wrong, he said the Carers SmartRider card would be for free travel on any Transperth bus, train or ferry for carers who looked after a family member or friend with mental illness or disability, or a frail senior.

Making the promise at the Carers WA head office, the Premier said those eligible for the free travel would be carers getting Commonwealth carer's payments. It would be valid for travel from 9am to 3.30pm weekdays and during all weekends and public holidays - the same as for seniors and disability support pensioners.

Mr Barnett said the scheme would begin on May 1, if he was re-elected, with carers able to travel free even by themselves.

Responding to Opposition Leader Mark McGowan's comments that he was focused on big, CBD-centric projects that drove up State debt, Mr Barnett said the Government had the "best priorities".

"Judge this Government on its record, judge it on its economic credentials, judge it on its compassion for those people in need and judge it on its environmental credentials," he said.

Mental Health and Disability Services Minster Helen Morton said public transport was a lifeline to help with employment, shopping and social activities.

Carers WA chief executive Paul Coates said the free public transport was welcome after three years of lobbying and Labor should match the pledge.