Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (20 May) . . Page.. 384 ..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
from it. Also, I am unconvinced that the communication between that committee and the schools that it represents is as good as it could be. The conversations I have had with people from various smaller schools indicate that that communication mechanism has broken down somewhere. Again, I do not suggest that it is the people on the committee that are not good enough, but rather those methodological links.
Mr Speaker, in her election manifesto for the 1995 election campaign, the Chief Minister promised free bus fares for students travelling to and from their schools. This promise was broken, presumably because the Government could not, or would not, find the $6m to fund it. I am calling on the Government to honour that promise.
The school bus service is in dire need of review. The Government has agreed with this comment. The Government has indicated that it is on the drawing board. I am calling on the Government to get on with the review immediately, to widen the terms of reference, and to do so with the extensive community consultation it employed in the recent trunk route review; in other words, to widen the parameters of an initiative it claims to be on its own drawing board. Mr Speaker, I commend the motion to the Assembly.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (12.08): Mr Speaker, when the Leader of the Opposition said in the first sitting weeks this year that the ALP regretted its past arrogance and was going to put on the new face of Labor, I had absolutely no idea that the Opposition was planning to go this far or that Mr Hargreaves had even signed up to the new face of Labor. Mr Speaker, with his motion today, not only has Mr Hargreaves shown that he has signed up to the new face of Labor; but I am delighted to see that he now wants to work cooperatively with the Government. I have to confess, however, Mr Speaker, that I had no idea he would go this far. Indeed, Mr Hargreaves seems to want to sign up with the Government, not just urge the Government to do something. What we have from Mr Hargreaves here is exactly the Government's policy on the review of school buses that was given to him in a briefing - which he failed to mention in his speech - on 9 April this year, approximately three weeks before he gave notice of this motion. He had a briefing by senior public servants six weeks ago - three weeks before his motion made the notice paper.
Mr Speaker, he says that we should have a review. Had Mr Hargreaves taken the time to ask, he would have found out that, for at least the last three years, the Government has conducted such a review every year. I am not sure who was the spokesman in the previous Labor Government, but the previous Labor Government may well have had such a review as well. This review takes in ACTION. It takes in representatives from DUS and from the education sector. They have sat down, examined enrolments and reviewed the school bus routes. Within the knowledge that was available to them at that point in time, they have - - -
Mr Hargreaves: It is a secret review.
MR SMYTH: It is not a secret review. There is a well-established annual process for the review of bus services. For the past few years, the Department of Urban Services, bringing in all the knowledge that it has, including its traffic section, has been and still is the purchaser of bus services in the ACT. They convene what is called the school transport liaison committee. The committee's role is to provide advice on the