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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 2052 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

expressions of interest from the private sector. We have agreed that the two motions can be debated cognately as they are, obviously, closely related. The industrial process is not just something that should be followed. It is a legislative requirement - a framework that was developed by the current Federal Liberal Government no less. It is appalling that we are forced to call on the Government to abide by legislation.

I am sure that there are many improvements that can be made to the ACTION network, and I understand that ACTION and the Government may have differing views from drivers and the Transport Workers Union. But what concerns me is the willingness of Mr Smyth to give up, citing privatisation as the only option. I believe that the Transport Workers Union were willing to sign an agreement but were not willing to endorse different, and reduced, conditions for new staff. This would create a de facto work force. ACTION members found it unfair that they were voting for conditions for workers to be employed in the future, which conditions currently did not exist. Any reading of the literature on industrial relations within workplaces proves that the relationships between workers in a particular facility or organisation are very adversely affected if people are doing the same work for different rates of pay. It is a pretty obvious problem in a workplace. I do understand that the union is interested in continuing negotiations and I definitely support this motion of Mr Hargreaves that the Government should work with the union in good faith.

The community of Canberra needs a strong, well-serviced bus service. This, I believe, would result in increased patronage by people who currently use their cars for their full journey or part of it. As I have stated in this Assembly on a number of occasions, public transport is not about profit; it is an investment in our future as well as in our society now. I find it interesting that this Government still believes that privatising public assets such as ACTION and ACTEW is going to increase the efficiency and at the same time maintain and even improve the level of service to the community.

It would be far more productive for the Government to develop an integrated transport strategy to increase patronage rather than to look to the private sector as a panacea. We are still waiting for the land use and transport study. Once again we see initiatives made in a policy vacuum. Restructuring the current network so that it is appealing to consumers and results in greater patronage will not happen overnight. It will require careful planning and, very importantly, community consultation. It will also require courage and vision from government, which I am afraid is not there.

Transport is a major cause of greenhouse emissions in the ACT. Transport is also a critical factor for government if it is interested in equity of access for all its citizens. That is why we believe that any major decisions in this area must come through the Assembly.

MR HARGREAVES (11.10): Mr Speaker, I would like to speak initially in support of Ms Tucker's motion. Some of the things in it actually struck a very big chord with me, and I would just like to see the Government pick up the same chord. What Ms Tucker said was that our public bus system is not an asset for sale; it is an investment in our community, and we should be attacking our deliberations from that perspective.

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