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the question of pollutants and the problems of present car exhausts, there is simply an imperative to reduce the enormous costs that, as other speakers such as the Greens have indicated, arise from the use of the private car in our present system. I hope that we can all develop an approach that works towards reducing that very high cost.
The Liberal Party obviously sees the structure by which certain services are provided as being critically important to the way in which those services occur and the cost they entail to the public purse. We have proposed the corporatisation of the ACTION network not as a way of reducing the number of buses available on the roads or cutting back on the number of bus drivers or in some way producing devastation in the area of public transport, but as a way of meeting our legitimate and entirely necessary need as a community to provide public transport at the lowest possible cost. That commitment is not peculiar to any particular Liberal government; it is a commitment that surely any government worth its salt would have to be pursuing. Nobody wants to spend more than they need to, and I think this is a case where we have to work very hard to reduce that colossal subsidy to a public transport system that is presently used by only 5 per cent of the population.
Mr Connolly: It has been massively reduced, as Mr Hird told you.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Connolly notes that it has been massively reduced, and he deserves credit for that; but I think he also has to acknowledge that there are a number of structural problems with the way in which ACTION currently operates that necessitate further attention to how we might go further. The Nightrider service was raised in particular. Nightrider is a service set up with the social aim in mind of enabling people to get home in the evenings rather than hanging around Civic, where things like vandalism and assaults might occur.
The service was provided on an experimental basis to see how many people would use it and whether it would produce the kind of service that would alleviate other social problems. That is a very laudable aim, and I think it had the support of this party when it was initiated. However, it has been quite clear since that time that, whatever test you want to apply, the Nightrider experiment could be said to have failed. Obviously, the social objectives were being met to some extent but the costs certainly were not. The service operated to Belconnen, Woden, Weston Creek and Tuggeranong, and if it had continued it would have cost something in the order of $250,000 a year to provide. However, on average, approximately 240 people used the service each weekend during those summer months when it was operating.
Mr Connolly: But is that a fair average? Was it not very heavily patronised in the peak summer periods?