Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 15 August 2018) . . Page.. 2978 ..
amplifying the concerns of the community in relation to what appear to me, from what I have heard, deeply unpopular proposed changes to the bus network.
MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (3.48): I welcome the opportunity to speak again about the bus network and this government’s long-term commitment to provide better public transport for Canberra. I thank Miss C Burch for the opportunity to discuss this. I want to point to a couple of key themes which have come up, not only in the consultation but also in debate in this place.
Mr Assistant Speaker, you will be well aware that the opposition often accuse the government of not listening. If the opposition were to listen to anything that most members on this side of the chamber say, and actually take the time to think about it and reflect on it in their comments, they may have some credibility when they say they are listening. They simply did not listen to speeches given in this place yesterday on the bus network and about the consultation; they simply did not listen. As I said yesterday, this consultation is part of two stages of consultation. But this has been built on the back of over a decade of public conversations on public transport.
What has come about over the last decade is the very clear preference from the Canberra Liberals to not invest in public transport. The one great benefit of the last election was that it finally put to bed the argument that the Canberra Liberals had been running, for a decade at least, that this city could not support public transport. They simply could not run that argument in 2016. They ran it in 2012—that Canberra was always going to be a city for the car, and why should we invest in public transport? I certainly welcome their turnaround in discussing public transport and wanting to see more investment in it.
I am also deeply concerned by their somewhat outrageous scaremongering that has come about in some of the debate today. Quite frankly, it is utterly lacking in responsibility. We are all members of this place and we will all take the views of our community on board. But what about some of the comments about the safety of our city, and about the people that currently use public transport? While a small number of people use public transport in Canberra—only eight per cent—and our commitment is to increase that, those opposite are suggesting that people that use public transport are dangerous, that people who interchange in our public transport interchanges are dangerous. This is one of the safest cities in the world, and those opposite are suggesting that people who use public transport are dangerous and people who hang out in public transport interchanges are dangerous.
Ms Lee referred to the outrage of forcing kids to walk through school car parks. Children walk through school car parks every day. Children catch public buses every day—but not enough of them. Not enough people in our city catch public transport. Only eight per cent do.
I will go to the point about consultation. This has been an extensive consultation period. It is on the back of significant consultation done in 2016, significant consultation done late last year and early this year. In regard to the latest consultation,