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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2475 ..

MR WHITECROSS (continuing):

commended for. Their survey says that customers do not actually mind longer journey times provided that they get more frequent journeys. What has the Government done? The Government has given them the longer journey times, the reduction in service, but without the offsetting improvements through more frequent services.

What we see is not an improvement in services, which might have been able to be achieved in a cost-neutral way, but a simple effort to save money. What really drives Mr De Domenico is a desire to save money and a desire to reduce the size of public transport. If Mr De Domenico were serious about public transport and understood the benefits of public transport to a city like Canberra, he would be thinking laterally, not about cutting the costs of the services necessarily but about all the ways we can improve services. The Labor Government managed to make significant efficiencies in the ACTION budget, and we did it not by cutting services but by introducing an automatic ticketing system, which will save a significant amount of money in future years because of greater compliance with the fare system.

Mrs Carnell: We did that.

MR WHITECROSS: No, you did not do it, Mrs Carnell.

Mrs Carnell: We introduced it.

MR WHITECROSS: Mrs Carnell, you cut the ribbon. Mrs Carnell has once again engaged in that famous propaganda technique we are all familiar with, the one of making a statement we all know is not true. She is claiming that it was her idea to introduce automatic ticketing, and it was not. Not only do we have that but we also have savings we made in the ACTION budget through negotiations with the unions about changes to work practices that allow the use of part-time drivers and that we were working towards in the integration of the mechanics with the other services, which Mr De Domenico has taken forward.

These are ways of getting savings in the ACTION system, not by cutting the services, but that is what Mr De Domenico likes to do. Why does he not, in order to reduce the costs of ACTION, look at ways of making the off-peak services more attractive to people, instead of making them less attractive to people, which is what he has done? The logic of Mr De Domenico is all the time to reduce. He does not really relate to government services; he does not like government services. He would rather see his friends in the private bus companies running around. He is not interested in running a public transport system, and his whole approach is informed by that idea.

More evidence of the way Mr De Domenico just cannot relate to public transport is that he too, once again encouraged by Mrs Carnell, who is the master of that well-known propaganda technique, has been running around town for the past year or more telling everybody who would listen that only 5 per cent of Canberrans have ever been near an ACTION bus; that only 5 per cent of Canberrans use ACTION buses. The facts are different. ACTION's own customer survey shows that 50 per cent of the respondents to the survey claimed that they usually used ACTION at least once a week.

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