Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1795 ..
MR OSBORNE (continuing):
(2) Paragraph (2), omit the paragraph, substitute the following paragraph:
"(2) calls on the Government to develop and introduce a new fare structure for students which removes the arbitrary zoning and applies the current one zone student fare to student travel throughout Canberra until the Standing Committee on Urban Services has reported on the inquiry into school bus services and that report has been considered by the Assembly.".
Ninety-five per cent of complaints that my office has received in relation to the new ACTION zones have been from families in relation to their schoolchildren. The new zonal fares place an unfair burden on families who choose to send their children to an independent school in a different suburb. The most obvious cases are children from St Clare's and St Edmund's. About 600 kids travel from the Tuggeranong Valley to St Clare's. This new scheme places an unfair burden on families for choosing a certain school.
In the 1995 election the Liberals promised free bus fares for schoolkids. These amendments of mine leave in place the zone system but allow ACTION to charge students only one fare for the whole system. I think that is a fair compromise. We have had many meetings with the Minister in relation to this. The issue that has stood out for me is the number of schools that have been placed in dual zones - schools around Phillip and the Belconnen interchange, for example. These amendments are a fair compromise. They do not involve a restructuring of the zonal system. I hope that members will support my amendments to Ms Tucker's motion.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (4.29): Mr Speaker, the entire process that has led to the new system has taken significant time and occurred after significant consultation with the population. I acknowledge that the work was started under Mr Kaine. It is not something that has been arbitrary or considered lightly. It is a serious attempt to deliver to the people of Canberra a bus service that will meet their needs. It is curious to note that even though we have a good bus system about only 5 per cent of the population use it. The bus system currently does not meet the needs of the population. After consultation and analysis by experts in the field, we came up with this system. Firstly, we had the Graham report, then we had the Booz Allen and Hamilton report.
It must be noted that 88 per cent of ACT students live in the same zone as the school they attend. About only 25 per cent of students catch a bus to school. Of those, more that 70 per cent will travel within one zone. Retaining a flat fare across Canberra would retain the current inequity of people making short trips paying the same amount as people making long trips. It is important to understand that there are already inequities in the school system.