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MR HUMPHRIES: I did not hear Mr Connolly's interjection; but certainly 240 people per weekend, for a service raising $50,000 a year, would not have been particularly economic. Why was that so? Why was it not able to recover more of the costs or provide a more efficient service? The answer, in large part, is the work practices that are part of the process of ACTION providing that service. Two operators were required to provide that service. You can argue that there is a case for that: It is happening at night, people need to be protected, and someone needs to be there in case anything happens. That is an argument, certainly. Also, I understand, full-size buses were being used to transport sometimes very small numbers of people home.

The argument we would put is that to corporatise ACTION gives it the capacity to look at those questions of work practices and the way in which it designs its service to meet people's needs, and that can certainly produce significant savings. Mr De Domenico did not announce that the ACT Government was not interested in further offering services of this kind; he announced that the experiment had failed - and it certainly had - and that there would have to be some exploration in the future, and there will be, of ways in which we can offer this kind of service. I am very confident that, as we move towards changing the way in which ACTION services are provided, we can offer this service again on a much cheaper basis.

I understand that the total cost per person using this service was something in the order of $20 for each occasion of service. You do not need to be a genius to work out that for $20 you could probably pay a taxi fare. In fact, if you shared a taxi you certainly could provide for a taxi service all the way to Tuggeranong. The cost of using this service was $4, which means that, if you have $20, five people can ride on the bus or five people can share a taxi and probably go where they want to go much more quickly and directly to their doors rather than just to the town centre.

It is clear that there were problems with this service, and there are ongoing problems with the structure of ACTION that deserve to be critically examined. This Government is prepared to do that; the previous Government, with great respect, was not prepared to go very far down that track. It achieved some savings within the framework; but it got to the point, I suspect, where it could not have gone a great deal further. We are prepared to examine those matters. We have indicated that we want to work with the unions in doing so, and we will certainly attempt to do that. It is up to the unions as to how far they want to come down the track with us. We think there are issues here that simply cannot be overlooked or ignored, and we are putting them on the table. The bottom line is not, “Yes, we want to gut this service. It is not important; we can do without it. Yes, everyone can use their cars”. That is a stupid approach to take and it is certainly not our approach. We must provide public transport; but we believe that we can do it much better than it is currently being done, and that is the object of our exercise.

MR SPEAKER: The discussion is concluded.

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