Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 216..
DR FOSKEY (continuing):
Let us reflect on the stressful conditions that bus drivers work under, having to deal with a barrage of complaints, to meet impossible timetables, with full buses. Some face a decrease in their shifts and their conditions. All the while they are being told they are not allowed to speak out. There do not appear to be any winners from the December cuts.
I am greatly concerned that the changes to ACTION bus timetables, which were a result of the 2006-07 budget slashes, were made without any consultation with the community or experts. Prior to ACTION being absorbed into TAMS, it was run by people who knew about buses and had an independent board with community expertise. But what expertise advised them on the December cuts in services? Perhaps it was just the money-crunchers at treasury. It appears from the minister's statement during question time that even the Council on the Ageing was not consulted until after the cuts were made. This government has failed to take a whole-of-government approach to the policy decisions which impact so closely on people's lives.
A decrease in city parking spaces is a sensible part of a sustainable transport strategy, but only if it is accompanied by investment in alternatives to driving your car, and that is public transport. The erosion of our public transport system comes at exactly the wrong time for a community that is trying to do something, its little bit, about climate change. Canberra needs to provide more reasons for people to catch a bus, not fewer, as part of its long-term climate change strategy. I wonder whether all the momentum of last year's growth in ACTION passenger numbers has been lost.
While the community is not downright depressed about these changes, it is cynical. I am pleased to note from the weekend's Canberra Times that the ACT government is looking to reinstate some services in the inner north, although I note that this is to be achieved without an increase in budget. So I wonder which services will suffer so that others can be reinstated. I would appreciate the minister's insight on this matter. Perhaps I will hear it tomorrow.
I also note from the article that the ACT government will overhaul the network in October. Many members in the community would be interested to know how the ACT government is going to determine which bus routes will change and whom they will talk to. There used to be an ACTION board that advised the government, but this was also abandoned in the 2006-07 budget. The current debacle shows that the board did its job and, until it was disbanded, probably saved the government's bacon.
Discussion of matter of public importance
MR SPEAKER: I have received letters from Mrs Burke, Dr Foskey, Mr Gentleman, Ms MacDonald, Mr Mulcahy, Ms Porter, Mr Pratt, Mr Seselja and Mr Smyth proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, I have determined that the matter proposed by Mrs Burke be submitted to the Assembly, namely:
Housing affordability in the ACT.