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Mr Speaker, we are told that time is money. When asked about the cost of a car, most people would immediately think about financial costs associated with its maintenance, insurance, et cetera. However, I recently read that the typical American male devotes more than 1,600 hours a year to his car. This time not only includes the time actually driving but also includes the time used to earn money to cover the expenses associated with it, parking it, finding it again, and maintaining it. As for the space used by cars, an interesting fact I picked up recently is that, between parking space at home, at work and at the shopping centre, and road use, each car needs approximately three times the space of a small home.

I have just touched on some of the social, economic and environmental costs of motor vehicle use. Yet almost all of these costs of motor car use are excluded from the economic cost of owning and running a car. If these external costs were accounted for, Mr Speaker, we would not consider the contribution made by taxpayers and ratepayers to public transport as subsidies but as compensation for the damage caused by excessive motor car use. Because such subsidies contribute to a healthy, socially equitable society, externalities must be considered in planning Canberra's public transport options. The costs to the community of not having an effective public transport system are far greater than the subsidy the ACT Government currently is providing to underwrite ACTION. That is not to say that our public transport system cannot be run more efficiently. However, improvements should not be driven from the perspective of saving money. They should be primarily focused on providing the type of service which will maximise use.

Mr Speaker, the Government is planning to call tenders for ACTION routes. Any plan for ACTION that results in all the profitable services being picked out, and leads to a downward spiral in services and the profitability of ACTION, will not have the support of the Greens. We must not undercut the ability of ACTION to provide services on routes which do not have a high use rate. Providing access for the private sector does not necessarily provide greater efficiency. Experience with private sector involvement in the provision of public transport services in Great Britain indicates that there are serious risks of duplication of services and degradation of the ability of the public service to provide services on less profitable routes.

Mr Speaker, I believe that the problems I have outlined above can be addressed through a range of measures, including a responsive and extensive public transport system, traffic calming measures, more effective car pooling strategies and increased car parking charges. Traffic calming has been done quite successfully in many cities overseas which are smaller than Canberra. It is not just a solution for large cities. There are many other ways we can offer incentives and disincentives to change our transport patterns. It is imperative for the survival of our cities and suburbs that the use of cars be discouraged.

It is quite clear that these necessary changes are very challenging to some in our community. There is obviously a connection, effectively manipulated through advertising by car manufacturers, between a sense of self-esteem and status and the car that is owned. A good example of this was when Princess Margaret once said, “If you are still catching a bus at the age of 35, you know that you have not made it”. Another line I have heard is, “Yes, we do need a public transport system for those poor people who need it”. Mr Speaker, we all need public transport if we are to have a city which does not develop into a health hazard; if we are to have a city in which everyone can move around easily, which has clean air and livable streets. We all need public transport if we are to be responsible global citizens.

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