Page 851 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 6 April 2022

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of her that would want to support it in the way that it appeared. I do not know whether you have heard this from Ms Clay, but she will tell you that there is a climate emergency, and Ms Clay continues to bring that to the chamber. Ms Clay knows that, whatever difficulties may be in place regarding this proposal, it will get people out of cars and onto buses. Despite the difficulties that may need to be overcome, I know that there is a big part of Ms Clay that would love to support this motion in its original form. I would say to Ms Clay: there is still time.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (3.44): The ACT government have been clear and consistent in our efforts to encourage and promote the uptake of public transport. The ACT Transport Strategy 2020 emphasises the importance of shifting away from private vehicle use to address harmful climate change; improve community health and wellbeing; reduce congestion on our roads; and support a more compact and efficient city.

We strongly agree that getting more people onto public transport is a good thing, and we recognise that Canberra families are facing real cost of living challenges at the moment because of rising petrol prices and other inflationary pressures as our economy recovers from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic; and the impact of the Ukrainian conflict and the response of the Reserve Bank in quantitative easing, which of course pushed up many asset prices.

It is worth acknowledging that, in this context, petrol prices were back below $2 a litre this week. That follows the federal government’s decision to temporarily reduce fuel excise in the budget last week and also shifts in global oil prices. Members may be aware that Canberra’s public transport pricing is already more equitable and affordable than many other jurisdictions. One of the reasons for that is that we do not impose zone-based pricing like other jurisdictions do. We have a flat fee, regardless of how far you want to travel on public transport, and that means our pricing is highly equitable.

Someone leaving Tuggeranong or Casey pays the same price as someone travelling from the inner south. We provide free off-peak travel for concession card holders travelling between off-peak hours. Also we provide concession rates for those who are travelling at peak times. An adult who takes public transport to and from work five days a week will pay a total of $32.20, which is significantly less than the price of a tank of fuel and parking. Public transport is already a really great alternative to help reduce the costs of travelling around our city.

Thanks to weekday caps on pricing, the most a non-concession card holder would pay for five days, taking multiple trips by public transport, is $48. Our pricing is even more affordable for school students, with five days of travel to and from school costing just $12.20. So public transport is already very affordable; the prices have been frozen for several years already. It is a great alternative to driving and parking, paying parking fees, particularly in the city, and that is just one of the reasons that we do not agree with Mr Parton and the Liberals that free public transport for extended periods of time is the right answer to cost of living pressures or the need to incentivise more people onto public transport.

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