Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2477 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
I recently attended a round-table discussion on employment, organised by the ACT Business Council and attended briefly by the Minister for Urban Services, Mr De Domenico. One of the major issues raised was the need for access to public transport. This support for public transport at the jobs round table may come as a surprise to the Minister. There appeared to be general agreement that an effective public transport system was essential to generating business and employment in the ACT. Given that the Government is spending plenty of money directly on encouraging private enterprise in the ACT, through CanTrade and tax concessions and giving away parcels of land, it is interesting that it is cutting funding in an area where there is a clear need for improvement in order to assist in the generation of employment, particularly where working hours are becoming more flexible. This was very clearly pointed out at the round table.
Public transport in the ACT is organised around peak hours. After those hours, and in particular on weekends, access to public transport becomes minimal. If the Minister had attended the meeting for a little longer than he did, he would have heard that there is a real need to recognise that a lot of business does not operate between the hours of eight o'clock in the morning and six o'clock in the evening, and we need a better public transport system outside these times. For social, environmental and economic reasons, we need more public transport services, not fewer. We are far too dependent on the private motor vehicle in this Territory.
While the Government has its eyes set on reducing public transport, it has shown no inclination whatsoever to create incentives for people not to use private motor vehicles. "We need more money to do it.", says the Government. Yet that same Government has totally dismissed the introduction of parking charges in Belconnen and Tuggeranong. As we have pointed out to the Government on several occasions, the ACT has twice as many parking spaces per CBD worker as any other capital city in Australia. Only some cities in the United States are in the same league. The Government appears to ignore this fact. The Government could also have been looking at creating incentives for people to use public transport. For example, in urban services, a commitment could have been made to reduce available parking in the ACT to the national average, a national benchmark which the Government is clearly happy to ignore.
Mr Osborne: Do you really want to hand your car back?
MS TUCKER: I did catch a bus to work today, Mr Osborne. The reliance on private motor vehicles in this town cannot be attributed to the Liberal Party alone. It has taken years to get to this point, and it is in part a legacy of the way Canberra was planned. I do not think anyone in this chamber will deny this fact, but political will is necessary to turn this situation around, to make public transport a viable choice for many more people. I do not think the Liberals have demonstrated this political will by cutting more than $12m out of public transport over three years.
Discouraging use of private vehicles and encouraging public transport usage is fundamental to the process of reforming our transport systems. You do not need a committee to tell you that.