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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3292 ..

ACTION Bus Services

MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Urban Services, who is responsible for transport. Just before lunch I noticed a small bus outside the public entrance of the parliament.

Mr Wood: Twenty years old. How old is it?

MR HIRD: This bus was in the ACTION colours, Mr Speaker, and it was on display for all to see. Can the Minister inform the house as to whether it represents an initiative which this Government is undertaking in giving better bus services to Canberra commuters?

Mr Berry: It is new all over - about that big.

Ms Follett: And is the bus old enough to vote?

MR DE DOMENICO: I thank Mr Hird for his question. I note that there were some interjections from some opposite about the fact that it is only - - -

MR SPEAKER: Which you will ignore.

MR DE DOMENICO: They are very good ones, Mr Speaker. They suggest that it is an old bus with new paint. That is correct, Mr Speaker. However, unlike previous governments, we are going to utilise them to the fullest. Let me begin by saying that ACTION continues to provide the best bus service in Australia. I will say that again; it continues to provide the best bus service in Australia - a fact that some members opposite and some on the crossbenches should realise and appreciate, instead of running it down all the time.

Mr Speaker, the small bus that Mr Hird referred to in his question is one of the series of small buses currently run by Totalcare which are about to be transferred across to the ACTION fleet. The Government firmly believes that by transferring the Totalcare fleet across to ACTION the bus commuters of Canberra will directly benefit. Presently, Mr Speaker, the Totalcare fleet is underutilised, and has been for a great number of years, and ACTION's expertise in bus operations, we believe, should allow for dramatic improvement in management of the Totalcare fleet. Furthermore, ACTION will investigate ways of more fully utilising the Totalcare fleet of smaller buses, including using them for off-peak services and in multiskilling the respective work forces.

This move is one of a number of initiatives that the Government will undertake to further benefit ACTION commuters. We have all heard the ranting and raving of the Opposition - certain members still rant and rave - in this place in recent weeks over the Government's alleged reduction of services and general downgrading of ACTION. What a load of rubbish, Mr Speaker! This Government is doing the exact opposite to what Mr Whitecross claimed we were doing. We are improving the overall quality of ACTION services through new services to suit our changing community needs and by making ACTION a more economically efficient and flexible public transport system.

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