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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 7 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 1944..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Australia Bank's bills. That is the sort of understanding, and they are the sorts of guarantees, that I have sought in my negotiations and my arrangements. I want to know the terms and conditions the commonwealth is applying, and the terms and conditions are that the commonwealth will pay $1 million a month between now and Christmas to ensure that the company continues to trade so it can be sold. What then? The commonwealth's interest ends. What if it is not sold? It will cease to operate, it will cease to trade at all. The position those workers face now—namely, redundancy— will become a reality.

The commonwealth's commitment to this rescue does not extend beyond the federal election. It is four months of $1 million, then it runs out. Of course, we are all hoping and praying that in that time there will be a sale and that whoever purchases this company will not move across the border—most particularly to Bombala—and the business will be retained here. One does not have much confidence in relation to that. This company has not run at a profit in any of the past six years. In the first six months of this year it lost $4 million. That is where the $4 million of commonwealth funding comes from. The commonwealth has committed to ensure that the company continues to operate on the basis that is has over the previous six months. That is one of the conditions. It must be maintained at no greater than a $4 million loss, which is consistent with the loss of the first six months of this year.

The company lost $7 million last year. It has lost $4 million in the first six months of this year. The commonwealth expects it to lose $4 million in the second half of this year. That is food for thought in the context of the future of this company within the ACT. This is information that I have asked the receiver to provide to me so that the workers at this mill know the gravity of their situation. This company is running at a loss of $6 million to $7 million to $8 million a year and the workers need to know that. They need to be told that this is a company in dire straits. (Time expired.)

ACTION bus service—safety

MR PRATT: My question is to the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services. Minister, there continue to be incidents in which rocks are thrown at buses at various places across the ACT. This practice has been unrelenting for six months or more. Indeed, in the past fortnight there have been a number of rock-throwing attacks against buses, including one in Tuggeranong on Tuesday this week. Bus drivers and ACTION staff are increasingly concerned about these attacks as there is the potential for serious injury to be caused to ACTION staff and passengers as a result of these attacks. Minister, as you are responsible for ACTION you have a duty of care for bus drivers and for passengers. Minister, what strategies have you put in place to safeguard ACTION staff and passengers from these unrelenting attacks?

MR HARGREAVES: Firstly, the government regards these incidents particularly seriously. Before I give an outline of the incident that occurred let me say that each year ACTION encounters a number of rock missile-throwing incidents. Following a spate of incidents in 2005, as a safety measure ACTION undertook a program of fitting shatterproof film to drivers' side windows to protect drivers and passengers. As members would know, some years ago a spate of objects were being dropped from bridges. That action changed to missiles being thrown at buses from the roadside.

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