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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 2151 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

I think it is reasonable, therefore, that the committee looks at the general operation of transport services for residents with disabilities. This picks up the provision of specific bus services, previously provided by Totalcare and now by ACTION. It talks about taxi transport, and it enables us to canvass the community view on this. Often we try to make these decisions in isolation. Mr Speaker, all too often we make significant mistakes because we do not ask the right people the right question.

I think it is reasonable that the committee considers the Government's community service obligation in this area, because often these things are dollar driven. I know that the changes to the system for the rehabilitation patients do generate some savings, but I would just like somebody to consider whether the savings are going to jeopardise the satisfying of our community service obligation. I suspect, Mr Speaker, that they will not, and I would like someone to have a look at it. Therefore, I come to paragraph (b) of my amendment, which is that we review the cost comparison of the way we currently provide our services - the rehabilitation service, the service to the elderly and the service to the kids - and the proposed changed service, which means putting these people on general ACTION services, supplemented by taxis.

We all know that there are not enough taxis. I suspect that, if we did approve the issuing of another four or five plates, it would not be sufficient either and we might be coming back here in 12 months' time to do it again. So I suggest that perhaps the best thing we can do, rather than running headlong into issuing another couple of plates, is stop and have a look at it. We have a standing committee for the process. Let us invite community consultation on it and then make some valid decisions. I commend the amendment to the Assembly.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (11.18): Mr Speaker, I will speak to both Mr Rugendyke's motion and Mr Hargreaves's amendment. I am very pleased that Mr Rugendyke has raised this issue. It is a very important issue. He says that, if there are problems in the service that should be provided to the community and if they are not being solved, we should look at ways of fixing those problems. I thank Mr Rugendyke for having raised the matter with me and for now bringing it forward to the Assembly. Similarly, Mr Hargreaves says that we should look at all the services offered to those with a disability. I think it is a very wise thing to do. The Government looks forward to seeing the results of the committee's work. It will look at the all-up problem and may offer us solutions and a way forward, so that, if problems are identified, we do meet the needs of those with a disability who require special transportation services. The Government is fully supportive of both Mr Rugendyke's motion and the amendment to refer the matter to the Urban Services Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

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