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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 September 2010) . . Page.. 4304 ..

MR CORBELL: The Chief Minister, as always, is keen to identify opportunities for the placement of public art in our community, and he is to be commended for that. The decision about that will be one for ACTEW and the Bulk Water Alliance. This is a project that they are responsible for the financing of. I am sure they will have regard to the Chief Minister’s suggestion, but whether or not it proceeds will be a matter for the ACTEW board and the Bulk Water Alliance.

ACTION bus service—online trip planner

MS BRESNAN: My question is to the minister for transport and is with regard to the government’s development of an online trip planner for the ACTION network. Minister, given that journey planners have existed for some time for the public transport systems of Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane, which have more complicated systems than Canberra, as well as for smaller jurisdictions such as Newcastle, what has prevented the government from implementing this basic user service until now?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Bresnan for the question. I think, Ms Bresnan, all I can say in response to that is that in an ideal world, of course, we would do everything at once, without regard to either the financial or people resources necessarily required to achieve or implement everything that we would like to do. The ACTION network is a business. It is a fairly large business. It is a business with an operating cost to capital of in excess of $100 million—$80 million of which is provided straight from the budget. We could say, “It would not take much; it is fairly simple,” but you could say that about everything. You could say it about implementing a new ticketing system, something that we have been grappling with for a number of years now and something that comes at a very significant cost—$8 million. You could say it about the installation of real time information across the network: “Other networks have it; why haven’t you got it?”

It is a reflection, Ms Bresnan, of the size of our budget and of our capacity in terms of the size of our workforce. Really there is a whole range of things about which you could say, “That’s fairly simple, just do that. That is fairly simple and not very expensive, just do that.” This is a question and a debate, of course, that the budget cabinet involves itself in every year. We get, I would say, from our departments every year, in a context where we might be able to find $40 million or $50 million of additional operational expenditure, bids from departments worth a billion dollars. And we reduce them from a billion dollars down to $50 million.

In that particular context, let me assure you, Ms Bresnan, that there are myriad projects that cost, say, just $300,000 or $400,000 or $500,000 and that do not see the light of day. They do not see the light of day from year to year. Really, in a fairly confined budget context, I can assure you it is not a case of “that is only $200,000”. It is a bit like the Nightrider service: “it’s only $250,000 or $300,000”. I now have ACTION going through the entire sustainable transport plan and last year’s $97 million to identify which part of the announced public transport infrastructure we will not proceed with. And I look forward to your support in that process. That is the nature of budgeting and decision making around budgets.

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