Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2010) . . Page.. 2450 ..
Why is this dispute happening? Quite simply, it is happening because, despite, or perhaps even in spite of, being the party of the union—indeed, the party which, like ACTION, is run by the unions—Mr Stanhope is unable to communicate or negotiate with the Transport Workers Union over this industrial dispute.
Who will be affected by this strike? It will be some of Canberra’s most needy and vulnerable people. It is Canberra’s elderly who can no longer drive. It is Canberra’s disabled who are unable to drive. It is Canberra’s school kids who are unable to drive. It is Canberra’s underprivileged who are unable to drive because they cannot afford a car. It is the thousands of commuter workers who choose to travel to work by bus, often even when it is inconvenient, because they do not want to run a second car. But all of those people will be seriously inconvenienced tomorrow because the Stanhope government will not do anything about this proposed bus strike.
These are the people who Stanhope’s bus strike will affect. It is Mr Stanhope’s lack of communication and negotiation skills that will cause these people to be inconvenienced tomorrow. It is Mr Stanhope whom these people can thank for this inconvenience. The inconvenience that we experience in the ACTION bus service is not just about tomorrow. It goes on every day. It is the delays. It is the failure to turn up when buses are supposed to turn up. It is the failure to deliver people to places on time. Just in my own family, both of my children who are still at school use the ACTION bus service every day. Both of them go to different schools and essentially they have a standard late pass because the ACTION bus service cannot deliver them to school on time. Dedicated going-to-school buses cannot deliver children to school on time.
Route buses that are supposed to deliver people at particular times cannot do it. So, if my children catch the bus from the end of the street, they cannot reliably get to school according to the timetable. That is being replicated over and over and over again. The people of Belconnen are constantly inconvenienced by poor service; buses that fail to arrive; buses that are slow; buses that are in many cases overcrowded. On top of that, we have the problems at the elongated bus interchange across the Belconnen town centre, which is very poor indeed. The representations that have been made to Mr Stanhope by me, Mr Coe and others from a range of people, including the Senior Citizens Club in Belconnen, show that this government is not interested in serving the people of the ACT who rely upon buses.
It has been pointed out to me, and it has certainly been my experience when I have used the buses, that, especially in Chandler Street opposite the tax office, the 31 buses—the most commonly used buses—are allocated the furthest-away bus stop. It has been reported to me by people who have disabilities and people who are elderly that negotiating yourself almost down from Eastern Valley Way, back up to Chandler Street and to the library and places like that is quite difficult from that bus stop. There is no seating. There is poor lighting. There was a long time when the pavement was being ripped up at the same time as bus stops were being put in there and buses were stopped there. It was hugely dangerous when people had to actually walk on the road and mix it with the buses.