Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 3734 ..
MS HORODNY: My question is directed to the Minister for Urban Services, Mr De Domenico. I understand that ACTION has recently contracted to buy from Dennis Dart a number of midi-buses with diesel engines to fulfil the promise made in the budget that ACTION will expand the range of buses in its fleet to provide greater service flexibility. Could the Minister explain why ACTION did not consider the option of buying these midi-buses with natural gas powered engines, given that Dennis Dart also supplies this type of factory-fitted engine with full warranty and that natural gas is 40 per cent cheaper to buy and produces significantly lower exhaust emissions than diesel?
MR DE DOMENICO: I thank Ms Horodny for her question. Yes, ACTION's contract for the supply of Dennis Dart SLF 9.0 midi-buses refers to a Cummins diesel-fuelled engine, and I will tell you why. As you have said quite frequently, ACTION has been trialling natural gas as an alternative fuel by dedicating two natural gas fuelled PR100s rigid buses. Unfortunately, though, Ms Horodny, following over two years of trialling, these buses have completed only 10,000 kilometres per year compared with 80,000 kilometres per year for a diesel bus. There is a great deal of difference. ACTION has had to provide two additional spare diesel buses to operationally support the two unreliable natural gas buses. As a result, this alternative fuel is not yet considered sufficiently reliable for ACTION to make any further commitments, given their primary role of providing a reliable public transport system. The two natural gas trial buses ran 10,000 kilometres per year compared with 80,000 kilometres per year for a diesel bus. As I said, that is why we will buy the diesel-fuelled engine and not the gas engine.
MS HORODNY: I ask a supplementary question. You read that very well, Mr De Domenico. I have that answer from the Estimates Committee. Is it true that the ACTION trial of those two natural gas powered buses used only prototype natural gas powered Mack-Renault buses and not production models which were available from a number of other bus companies, and that therefore the trial did not give a true representation of the benefits of natural gas powered buses?
MR DE DOMENICO: I will take that question on notice, Mr Speaker. I will consult the numerous expert engineers and others we have employed at ACTION and other places. If Ms Horodny's expertise goes beyond theirs, I would be interested in her reasoning.
MR OSBORNE: My question is to the Minister for Sport, Mr Stefaniak. Minister, I have been advised that there has recently been a written instruction from the ACT Government's Bureau of Sport, Recreation and Racing to cut the amount of water supply to all sportsfields on district playing fields and neighbourhood ovals by 30 per cent as a cost-cutting measure. Minister, I draw your attention to the fact that the present levels of watering were developed by the turfs, soils and irrigation area of the then City Parks Technical Services Unit in the mid-1980s. The unit's research was conducted