Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2739..
MR OSBORNE: Mr Berry says, "I don't need your help, I'll be right." I thought I would include that in Hansard, Mr Speaker. One of the functions of this new authority, as stated in clause 5 (b), is "to operate on a sound commercial basis". I have been here a relatively short time, 61/2 years, and I have yet to see ACTION operate on what most sensible people would consider a sound commercial basis. It is about providing a service, Mr Speaker.
What is going to happen? I know these wonderful guarantees have been given. In my opinion they amount to nothing more than a bribe to bring the workers along, Mr Speaker, because they have lived in fear for a number of years. They have offered them a guarantee of X number of years. ACTION has been guaranteed five years of services, I think. What is going to happen when that time is up? I add, Mr Speaker, that there are a number of triggers in the act which would cause those guarantees to end.
What will happen, Mr Speaker, is that this faceless board will be making decisions on the less productive runs. They are going to be the first to go. The minister will say, as we have heard in the past about Totalcare and Actew, that it was the board; the board did it. It was the Actew board, or it was the Totalcare board. They will start to look at some of the runs which are used by the poor and by the needy. It is going to be the runs from Calwell to the Hyperdome or Charnwood to Belconnen in the middle of the day when the parent or the older person who has not got a car gets on the bus, and the only means of transport is ACTION. There are only one or two people on the run. They are going to be the services that are targeted. They are going to be the ones that are put out to tender.
You do not need to be a Rhodes scholar, Mr Speaker, to realise that there are probably some of the smaller bus companies that could do it cheaper. In a couple of years time there is going to be a move to bring in Deane's or Transborder or Keirs or somebody like that to run these services. That is what is going to happen. The ACTION board is going to say, "We have to make some savings. We have to cut some services. We are going to tender out these jobs." That will be the first step towards the dismantling of ACTION.
I am greatly disappointed in the Labor Party on this issue, Mr Speaker. I am greatly disappointed that they have fallen for it. But, as I said earlier, I think the reality is that when you scratch beneath the surface on these types of issues the Labor Party and the Liberal Party are no different. I long for the days of the previous Assembly, Mr Speaker. I cannot believe that the Labor Party has moved so much in the last couple of years. I just cannot believe that the transformation has been so complete. Mr Quinlan puts his hands up. What a mistake, Mr Speaker.
Ms Tucker: It is interesting to see who is sitting in the chamber. Is this a coincidence?
MR OSBORNE: Ms Tucker says it's interesting to see-
Mr Hargreaves: You asked for it. You got it.