Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 2 August 2018) . . Page.. 2683 ..
by the Chief Minister that his government would deliver better and more representative consultation.
Earlier today Ms Stephen-Smith claimed that the government is taking consultation on the proposed new bus network very seriously. However, so far this consultation process has been laughable.
My colleagues and I have attended many of these Transport Canberra roadshows, and it is very clear that the government and the Labor MLAs often in attendance are not interested in listening to the overwhelming criticism of the proposed bus changes. Community members who air their frustration are often asked to wait to speak to officials at the end of the meeting, as officials are clearly unwilling to publicly address their concerns. All too often residents’ concerns about Xpresso services and school bus services are being dismissed, with officials running the same line over and over again that there will be more Rapid services.
I really do feel for these Transport Canberra officials, with the difficult sales job that the minister has put on them. I note that Transport Canberra has actively changed its language at these roadshows. Rather than being about receiving feedback from residents, Transport Canberra is now interested in “helping Canberrans adjust to the new network”, a change that many residents have noticed and has led many to believe that this consultation is disingenuous and these changes are largely set in stone.
The other damning part of this consultation process is the fact that the government is yet to release the timetables associated with the proposed new network. How can you call this real consultation when residents are unable to make informed judgments about whether they will be able to get to work on time? How is it real consultation when commuters cannot tell how long their journey will take? How is it real consultation when parents do not know how long their children will be waiting at interchanges after school buses have been cancelled? Bus users cannot possibly inform Transport Canberra and Ms Fitzharris on how these changes really affect them if they do not truly know what the changes are.
The minister, Transport Canberra officials and Ms Stephen-Smith earlier today have all claimed that the proposed new network is based on data showing how residents are currently using bus services. However, how can residents believe this claim when this data has not been released? The fact is, this government slaps the label “consultation” on anything and everything but does not understand what it means.
Let me tell members what real consultation looks like. Over the past month Canberra Liberals MLAs have been out in the community canvassing real opinions about the new bus network. Far from what those opposite would have you believe, Canberrans are not happy. As I mentioned earlier today, we have heard from countless parents, grandparents, teachers and principals across Canberra about the significant impact that cuts to dedicated school buses will have on their schools and families. Last week Ms Lee and I heard from elderly residents in Braddon about how changes to the number 7 bus will severely impact their community as well as homeless shelters in the local area.