Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 2050 ..
MS TUCKER (11.01): I move:
That the Government receive the support of the Assembly before taking any measures towards privatisation of ACTION, the tendering of any part of ACTION services, or before giving approval to any other operators for the provision of regular scheduled public transport services in the ACT.
This motion of the Greens is very similar to a motion that my colleague, Lucy Horodny, moved in the last Assembly in 1995. We were concerned then that the Liberal Government wanted to corporatise, or privatise, ACTION and that they actually had little understanding of the benefits of having a well-patronised public transport system. They complain about the subsidisation of public transport but are always happy to talk about investment in roads. The rhetoric is always fine, but the practice is an unimaginative and conservative approach to transport planning and it is without any integrated strategic context.
While I acknowledge the work of Mr Thurston in implementing the new network and responding to the Graham report, the reforms to ACTION have been hampered by the Government's approach and lack of long-term vision and planning. The introduction of the unsuitable zone system is a symptom of that narrow approach. The Greens believe that the existence of a strong, efficient and affordable public transport system is a basic and fundamental community service which the Government has an obligation to provide. We know, of course, that this Government believes that the private sector can provide this service equally well. That is the debate we need to have in this Assembly before the Government takes any steps to privatise, or corporatise, or outsource the public transport of the ACT.
I would like to remind members that when we moved a similar motion in the Assembly in May 1995 it was supported. Mr Humphries said:
We know that we cannot proceed to make these changes without extensive consultation with staff, with unions and with management in these areas, and we must work towards building a consensus about where we go with this kind of service.
I assume that Mr Humphries does not think industrial negotiation is a process of consultation on the issue of privatisation of services, and I also assume that he thinks the community might be interested in the issue. Mr Moore said:
What we want to do is understand what those benefits will be and ensure that that is explained in this Assembly before the process is taken up by the Government. That is why I will be supporting this motion.
And Mrs Carnell, talking about corporatisation, said:
The Assembly will be able to see it every step of the way.