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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1646 ..

Mr Smyth: Correct.

MR CORBELL: I am. Minister, you should check the Hansard, because you will see that in the Labor Party's response to the Graham report we did indeed welcome it, but we made one very important qualification. That was that we did not believe that a zonal fare structure was the most appropriate way to go to encourage people onto public transport. Indeed, we argued, and we continue to argue, that the most effective way of encouraging people to get out of their cars and to use public transport, in this city to use the bus system, is a flat fare structure based on time, a system under which you pay for two hours, four hours, six hours and so on and you can travel as often as you like, and as far as you like for that set amount. That includes free transfers, obviously. That sort of system will encourage people to get out of their cars and into buses.

I will give just one example. The residents of Palmerston, the suburb I live in, have a significant distance to travel to work, because not all of them can work in their own town centre. They have to leave their town centre to go to work. We have had the very long and elongated debate about the John Dedman Parkway. We have had the very long and elongated debate about transport strategy in the inner north. Just at the time when we need to get Gungahlin residents out of their cars and onto buses, what do we do? This Government hikes the fare structure for Palmerston residents by 100 per cent, from $2 to $4. That is not an incentive to get people out of their cars and onto buses. In a new town centre, it is quite clear that we need to encourage a culture of bus use from the beginning.

The route service that services Palmerston is one of ACTION's most effective routes, I am told by the executive director of ACTION, Mr Thurston. The service that runs from Palmerston via Belconnen to the city is one of the most well-patronised route services in this city. Why is that? The route is efficient, it is quick and it is reliable. Those are all things that ACTION needs to be commended for. The mere fact that the fare for Palmerston residents will go up by 100 per cent from $2 to $4 is not exactly going to encourage people in that very important new town centre of Gungahlin to get out of their cars. I will be urging the Government to reconsider that sort of problem.

I also note from the draft strategy that the Energy Advisory Service is another measure the Government says it is working on. I understand that the Energy Advisory Service, an independent service, was a commitment by the Liberal Party in the last election. It was certainly a commitment from the Labor Party in the last election. I understand, however, that the Government is proposing this service on a 12-month trial basis only. I have some concerns about that. Would it not be better to make the commitment that this will be an ongoing service that will be available for residents in the long term? It is all very well to have an independent Energy Advisory Service, but if it is only going to be for a 12-month trial what happens after that? Where is the consistency in the provision of the service? Energy advisory services are not new groundbreaking things. They have been around for a long time in a lot of other jurisdictions.

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