Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (17 April) . . Page.. 1027 ..
MR WHITECROSS (Leader of the Opposition) (4.05): Mr Speaker, I feel compelled to rise to talk about cuts to ACTION bus services, which is a matter of great concern to me and, I am sure, to a lot of other residents of Tuggeranong. Mr De Domenico tried valiantly to deflect criticism from himself yesterday in response to a question from Dorothy Dix, masquerading on this occasion as Mr Hird, in one of his lame defences - paralleled by the lame defence that he gave today of his decision to offer a benefit to rural lessees but not to other small business people. In both cases his defence consisted of much blathering and not much actual rebuttal.
Mr De Domenico claimed that these changes were made after consultation. Mr Speaker, I must say that, if you had blinked, you might have missed the consultation, because it was not very inspiring. Months of consultation it was, according to Mr De Domenico. He also claimed that the drivers involved were all positive about the new timetable and were brimming with enthusiasm. Mr Speaker, my understanding is that the transport workers agreed to implement the new timetable but were far from positive, and they have a number of unresolved issues which they are continuing to negotiate with ACTION. That does not sound like an enthusiastic and positive response. I would suggest that, far from me being out of touch with what the drivers think, perhaps Mr De Domenico is.
Mr De Domenico claimed that I misquoted figures and statistics which he supplied. It is an interesting claim, because, in fact, in all of his defence he has not cited one figure or statistic which I have misquoted. Mr De Domenico has not rejected my claim that 20 per cent of services in Tuggeranong have been cut; he has not rejected my claim that 360 services will be cut in the new timetable; he has not rejected my conclusion, from a representative week, supplied by Mr De Domenico's department, that 20,000 passenger journeys will be affected each week by the reduction of services. He has not; and why? The reason why Mr De Domenico has not rejected any of these things is that they are all true. So, Mr De Domenico is on fairly loose ground in trying to actually refute these allegations, because he knows that they are all true. Mr De Domenico has cut services, and has most significantly cut them in his own electorate of Tuggeranong.
You can always tell when Mr De Domenico is out of his depth. Either the Chief Minister takes the issue off him and does it herself or Mr De Domenico sends his public servants out to answer the criticisms on his behalf. And so it is, Mr Speaker, on this occasion. Mr Flutter was left with the unenviable task of trying to explain the indefensible to the community about how Mr De Domenico had cut the services. Mr De Domenico did not want to hand over the information about how many people used the services. The reason he did not want to hand over the information is that he knew that it would reveal that a significant number of people were going to be inconvenienced by these changes. The information demonstrates that, far from cutting and rationalising services that no-one used, which is Mr De Domenico's consistent claim - "All these buses were empty", he says - far from that being the case, 20,000 passenger journeys a week will be affected.