Page 856 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 6 April 2022

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(b) continue monitoring the delivery of public transport services in line with health advice and driver availability, and return to the full timetable as soon as is practicable.”.

MS CLAY (Ginninderra) (3.58): I rise in support of the amendments circulated by Minister Steel and to speak about Mr Parton’s original motion. I am really pleased to see Mr Parton bring on this motion. He is genuinely committed to making our buses better. I know he is. I have heard him ask questions in the Assembly and committee hearings the whole time I have been here, and I know he was doing that long before I got here. I am really, really glad to see him bring this issue forward again because it is so important to the Greens, to Canberrans and to the climate, and we are in a climate emergency. But I am not sure that this motion, while it raises the right problems, is bringing forward the right solutions at the right time.

I want to start with some general observations about the cost of transport and about our public transport here in Canberra. The cost of transport is such a big issue for so many Canberra households right now. It is significant and it is growing—even before our recent petrol and diesel price increases. When we design the city and our transport network for the private motor vehicle, we all pay more. Households pay, governments pay, and the environment pays. Even those who do not drive pay more because they have to subsidise those who do. But, of course, it is the cost of buying and owning and running a car that is the main cause of these transport pressures on the household budget.

Unfortunately, Canberra is still a pretty car-centric city. We are always going to have some cars here. My family owns a car, and I think every member in here has at least one car in their household. Unfortunately, cities choke on cars. Canberra’s congestion is growing at a rate three times faster than that of any other mainland city. Our city will not work if every adult drives everywhere they go. If everyone drives everywhere, we will all be stuck in traffic and will drive up our climate emissions further and faster than we are now.

We know that we need the fewest cars on the road possible, and that means we need really good active and public transport. This is a great time to have that conversation, because right now a lot of people are wondering whether they can afford to keep driving at all. The original motion highlights all of those problems and it does it really well, but it just has not brought forward the right solutions.

If we want more Canberrans using public transport, we need better buses. We need our buses to be frequent and reliable. We need them to take you where you need to go. On Saturdays and Sundays, we need a useful network that provides at least hourly services. We need buses to be a genuine alternative to the car.

We know the broader problems and we also know the specific barriers. We know it from surveys and data. I also know it from personal experience and from feedback from my constituents. Some of the reasons people do not use the bus are structural. These issues will not be addressed by this motion or probably by any motion on the bus network.

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