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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 15 August 2018) . . Page.. 2991 ..


concerns for parents. I was at the Belconnen bus interchange a few days ago and I witnessed a pre-teen boy punching another pre-teen boy in the face, and then he ran away. You tell that 12-year-old boy or a 13 or 14-year-old that Canberra is a safe place for him. To him it is not. The bus interchange is not a safe place for him. And this is why so many Canberra parents are concerned about the safety of their kids.

I thank Miss Candice Burch for bringing this very important motion before the Assembly today. I wish to say a few words in support. A good public transport system is crucial to the livability of any city. A well-connected, convenient, accessible transport network binds a city together. It means that people can shop, visit friends and family, engage in recreational opportunities, visit attractions and so forth. It takes people out of their homes and neighbourhoods. It is a necessary part of fostering a sense of community.

Certain segments of society are often especially dependent on public transport options: the elderly, those with disabilities, children and young people, uni students, casual and shift workers and those on low incomes. For many of these people, such as the elderly and those whose mobility is impaired, lack of access to a reliable, convenient bus network increases the very real risk of social isolation, leading to more loneliness and depression.

Low income earners and casual shift workers need a bus network that they can rely on. The alternative is to force them to use private vehicles or other expensive forms of transportation. Considering that this government just raised, once again, the cost of registering and parking a car in this city, this is a losing proposition for these workers. They cannot get to work using public transport but they cannot afford to get there on their own. One of my constituents in Holt, a student, works a late shift in Barton. With no viable public transport options available to him, he spends about one-quarter of his earnings just getting home from work each night by taxi.

These are important points. Public transportation options are not just about getting people from point A to point B. In a well-run city, a well-integrated bus network plays an important role in fostering healthy social outcomes in the lives of many people, including the most vulnerable. Changes to bus routes that unfairly target the elderly, those who struggle with mobility issues and low income earners strongly suggest a government that has lost its sense of social responsibility. What sort of government seeks to increase efficiency for some by robbing the lifeline from others?

A number of constituents have made it very clear to me that the proposed changes to the bus network will burden their families. St Francis Xavier College in Florey is the only Catholic high school in west Belconnen and consequently draws students from across the area. Under this government’s proposed changes to the bus network the only areas south of Southern Cross Drive that will have routes directly connected to the school are small corners of Holt and Higgins. This means that students from Page, Hawker, Weetangera, Cook, Macquarie, Aranda and most of Higgins and Holt will need to start catching multiple buses just to get to their neighbourhood school.

To emphasise how ridiculous this situation looks to many Canberrans, St Francis Xavier students who live in Scullin, which is literally just across the street from


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