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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1805 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

We have to come up with a system that the ACT can afford to pay for and one that is efficient and provides the service that the community want. That was the basis of the Graham report, a report that I believed was good and that this Assembly believed was good. Now, under a tiny bit of pressure those opposite are going to water. So much for good government. We will continue to put in place the things that we need to do to make ACTION more efficient and more responsive to the people of Canberra. It seems to me a great pity that others in this Assembly but again are caving in to vocal minority groups.

MS TUCKER (5.09): I wish to speak to the amendments. While I understand the intentions of Mr Osborne's amendments, I can also understand why government would not support them. If government acknowledges that this is an unfair burden on families who choose to send their kids to particular schools, they are going to have to acknowledge that it is an equally unfair burden on everyone else who has no choice but to use the bus system.

I understand why Mr Osborne has put up these amendments. He has been contacted by a number of people who are affected by the new fare structure. It is a lot more than just this particular group in our community who will suffer. It is the broader community generally who use the buses. I think it would be good if other people in this place used the buses occasionally. As someone who does on a regular basis, I believe I am probably more in touch with who uses buses than are other members of this place. It is really pretty insulting when you hear Ms Carnell describe people as a noisy, vocal minority group. Sure, parents of kids at schools were a vocal and effective lobby group. The main people this is going to affect are not a noisy group. They are a minority but, I am sorry to say, a growing group of people in our community who are socially disadvantaged in that they do not have a choice about whether they use their car or a bus. They have to use the bus. These people are suffering more and more in the ACT as services decline.

There is a real question of equity and social justice in this debate. It is not just about the environment. Those people include young people, not just those going to school but young people who have left school. They include elderly people who no longer drive, people with a disability who cannot drive, people who as a matter of choice do not own a car and people who do not have the money to buy a car. All these people are going to suffer as a result of this system, not just the children of the parents who have contacted members here. I am very sympathetic to that group as well. I know that it is a very costly exercise when you have a number of young children going to school. I do have sympathy with their particular issues. But, as I said, it is a much broader issue than that. I will not be able to support Mr Osborne's amendments and, as I said, I cannot see how government can either.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (5.12): The Government has been considering the various points made by the last few speakers and looking carefully at Mr Osborne's amendments. Whilst they do not bring about an ideal situation, we tend to think that they have a lot more merit than the substantive motion. We are also somewhat swayed by the persuasive logic of Mr Rugendyke. We have listened carefully to what people have said and we think that there is more merit in Mr Osborne's amendments than in the substantive motion. The Government is prepared to support the amendments.

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