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The other thing that is said about corporatisation is that it is a way of slashing jobs, and we know that that is not the case either. There are commitments there as well; go and talk to Totalcare. That is why I am saying that the requirements of the motion already happen anyway because the commitment is that before we corporatise anything there needs to be legislation. The Greens and everybody else will have the same input on ACTION buses as they have over the ACTEW proposal.
I am quite happy to support a motion that says that the Government must receive the support of the Assembly before corporatising ACTION. But if we are now saying that, before this Government does anything to reduce the costs of ACTION, it must come to this Assembly, I am sure you will realise that that is not the way executive government operates. If you would consider wording it to require that the Government must receive the support of the Assembly before corporatising ACTION, I would be quite happy to support that motion.
MR WHITECROSS (11.52): Mr Speaker, the motion Ms Horodny has moved is about open and consultative government and about providing a high-quality public transport service in the ACT. The Opposition is happy to support the motion. If I can reiterate the importance of public transport to the community at large, public transport is an essential element of the fabric of our community. It is about getting people to employment, meeting their need to get to social and recreational opportunities - not just poor people, not just people who cannot afford a car, but people in the wider community who choose to use public transport for convenience and for the other benefits it provides.
The need for appropriate and convenient transport is a fundamental social justice issue. Lack of access to affordable and accessible public transport leads to inequalities in access to employment, community services and the other facilities we all enjoy as residents of Canberra. There are all the other benefits of public transport, such as reducing energy consumption, reducing atmospheric pollution and other kinds of environmental degradation. We in the Labor Party regard public transport as a pretty important issue, and we have talked about it before in this place. The ACTION bus system transports about 24 million passengers a year over 21 million kilometres, as I recall. The subsidy to ACTION is quite modest when compared with subsidies to public transport systems across Australia and I think it provides a very important service as a result.
In this motion we are saying, quite simply, that a change to the public transport system, whether it is corporatisation of ACTION, leasing out of ACTION services or letting other private operators come in and run public transport services within the ACT, would be a very significant structural change to our public transport system; and that these kinds of changes should not be proceeded with without a proper debate, and that means without the participation of the Legislative Assembly in those processes. The Government has talked about changes to public transport at various times. Their election platform was not very fulsome on the subject; but they have talked about corporatisation of ACTION, they have talked about tendering out services and forcing ACTION to compete with private operators for bus routes, and they have talked about private operators replacing ACTION on many routes.