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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1573..


MR CORBELL (continuing):

amount of money to upgrade the communications system for ACTION bus drivers. One of the reasons behind that was the occupation health and safety issues faced by bus drivers. The new communications system is currently being progressed through the tender process. I anticipate that the new communications system will have an improved level of security, including potentially a GPS system, so that drivers will simply have to push a button, their location will automatically be known and there will be able to be a response to that bus.

The level of instances of assault physically is quite low. Verbally, it happens more often, but certainly not at a significant level. ACTION also has the appropriate range of counselling and support for drivers following any such incident. The government and ACTION management are conscious of this issue and the new communications system is designed to improve the situation for ACTION bus drivers. I have to say that the communications system project was repeatedly stalled by the previous government. I am very pleased that this government was able in its first budget to respond to that very important occupational health and safety issue.

MRS CROSS: I have a supplementary question. Minister, given that you have acknowledged that this problem does occur at a small level, are the staff that are subjected to this abuse encouraged to come forward or are they gagged as to the transparency of the complaint?

MR CORBELL: The government's view is that all staff should come forward and report incidents. From time to time, I am made aware of incidents being reported by staff. The government in no way condones any behaviour that seeks to hide or dismiss these incidents, regrettable as they are and as infrequent as they are.

Superannuation investments

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Treasurer. In the Canberra Times of 3 May this year you flagged that the ACT government would look at having its superannuation fund invest in properties that the ACT government rents. Treasurer, this seems to have the obvious appearance of conflict of interest between the interests of the government to pay low rents and the interests of superannuants to have high returns. In order to prevent private superannuation funds having such conflicts of interest, APRA circulated superannuation circular No II.D,5 in 1998 requiring all investment transactions to be made and maintained at arm's length. Why are you putting forward an investment strategy that does not meet the requirements of "arms length"?

MR QUINLAN: I thank the member for his question. I truly thank him for the opportunity to reply. This was an example I gave when I was talking about superannuation. I said that we intended to examine more conservative investment. Bearing in mind the history of the portfolio that we took over a year and a half ago and found it difficult to dismount from, we are going through a process of insuring that our superannuation investments contain a lower risk profile than one that is designed to try to make consistently a 5 per cent real return. So I said that we could invest in other investments and maybe property, particularly property that we occupy ourselves. I actually said that. So it was only an example and it was confined to property.


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