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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1882 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I think that after a long reform process we do need to say well done to the staff at ACTION. It has not been easy and they are to be congratulated. To the union that has participated, to management, to the former Minister - to all those that have got us to this point, and where the new network and the new fare structure will complete the journey - I say thank you. To those that would stop the journey from finishing, for reasons unknown and unclear, I say that you should reconsider what you are doing because this is an excellent opportunity for ACTION to become the bus service that it can become. This is the opportunity for ACTION to become the bus service that the people of Canberra deserve.

MS TUCKER (12.17): I am amazed that Mr Smyth thinks the arguments against his proposals are unclear. Obviously he has not listened to the community or the debate in this place. They are very clear. They have been articulated over and again. I refer particularly to Mr Smyth's comment that they get "beaten up" when they talk about economics. I am happy to talk about economics. Let us do that right now, about ACTION.

First of all, it is interesting to me that, when Mr Smyth talks about the costs of ACTION, he insists on saying that if we have a time-based system, it will cost $4m and that is it. That just shows how incredibly negative the view of government is on the possibilities of supporting a public transport system and getting it so that it is well supported - so that, in fact, the amount of money that goes into it is reduced. I have said this many times, but obviously I need to repeat it.

We have said there will be a short-term cost to government in changing the fares in the way that we have suggested, but what we argue and what is supported, as I said, by the experience of many cities around the world, is that that money will be made up and you will not need to continue to support the system in the same way.

Mr Smyth does not talk about the cost of roads. Building John Dedman and upgrading Majura, with the overflow onto other roads that will be necessary in the long term, will impose a totally impossible cost on the ACT Government. I heard Mr Humphries say that in the last Assembly and he has put it off for 10 years. He may be able to do that because he is counting on not being here in 10 years' time, no doubt moving on to greater things. What is really worrying about that is that, if we do not get in now, there will be an enormous cost to this society, this community, in the ACT in having to build major freeways.

It will not be just one. The figures and the modelling have been done. It will be John Dedman, it will be Majura upgraded, it will be other roads expanded or made larger and there will still be a great overflow. When you look at the figures, the modelling that has been done, that is quite clear. We are going to have to pay millions and millions of dollars. The community will be demanding that we do that because everyone is going to be so upset by the lack of any transport planning in this town, any coordinated approach to how we move people from A to B. Constantly we are seeing from government a short-term approach to this. If we want to talk economics, the Government has to acknowledge those costs and the long-term costs of building roads.

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