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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (20 May) . . Page.. 389 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

I even went so far as to place on the notice paper a motion for such a review, so I am very sympathetic to what Mr Hargreaves is trying to achieve here. Before the motion could be debated, we had a change of Ministers. Mr Kaine, recognising that he had some problems with the whole of ACTION buses, immediately commissioned the Graham review. Subsequently, I withdrew my motion to review school buses, to see what eventuated from that report.

The Graham report highlighted quite a number of concerns brought up by parents concerning the provision of school buses within Canberra. I can speak, from my own experience, Mr Speaker, about a number of problems regarding school buses, especially down in the Lanyon valley. The report proved that the general public is best served by ensuring that separate school bus services are provided, wherever practicable, rather than using route buses, as schoolchildren require special safety arrangements.

The report raises a large number of questions, however, such as the minimum number of children required to make an individual school bus, and the fact that a bus service needs to be viable; the different needs of primary and secondary students; preferential treatment given to various schools and school zones; safety issues, such as requiring children to cross a road, young children especially; young children having to wait at interchanges; the location of bus transfers - it goes on and on.

The role of the school bus liaison committee needs to be reviewed, I feel, as there seem to be difficulties with information flowing back to parents and schools. I do not think there is any consistent set of standards or policy in place regarding who gets a school bus and who does not. It is right and good for the school bus system to be reviewed, as suggested last year by the former Minister, and again this year by the present Minister, and also by Mr Hargreaves. But, Mr Speaker, I feel that that review should be handled by the Assembly's Urban Services Committee. I have spoken with the chair, Mr Hird, and other members, and they are quite interested in that option. That is why I will be moving my amendment after we vote down Mr Smyth's amendments.

Let us not throw insults at one another. The issue of school buses is an important one. I do not doubt that Mr Hargreaves has had an interest in it. I recall, even before he was elected, having discussions with him about school bus services. Rather than having ACTION look at the issue, we need to have a look at it within the Assembly because this very important issue affects many families. As I said, Mr Speaker, I will be voting against congratulating the Minister and ACTION at this stage. I will be moving my amendment to Mr Hargreaves's motion after we have dealt with these amendments. My amendment basically seeks to refer the issue to the Committee on Urban Services and proposes a reporting date of 22 October. If members would like it to be earlier, I am quite happy to amend it.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hird) adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 12.28 to 2.30 pm

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