Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2409 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
Government's fault - this has continued to remain a problem. We are asking the Government to look again at those particular schools where there are real problems with the pick-up and drop-off points for their students outside their schools, because they are congested and, in some cases, they are accidents waiting to happen.
Mr Speaker, the final point - again, it is a point on which I and my colleagues on the committee agree - is in relation to the issue of school bus services for college students, particularly those living in the Gungahlin area. We are aware already of the problems with the zonal system and what this means for people living in the Gungahlin area generally in terms of commuter services; but there is also an impact on students attending colleges. As I am sure members are aware, Gungahlin does not have its own secondary college. It is serviced by three colleges, each of which has a priority enrolment area for Gungahlin. They are Dickson College, Copland College and Lake Ginninderra College. Those three colleges are designed to service the Gungahlin area.
There was a very clear and evident problem presented to us by Dickson College, which in many respects is the closest college for secondary college age students in Gungahlin, in that Dickson is outside the bus zone which Gungahlin is in. Gungahlin is in the northern zone. Dickson College itself is in the central zone, yet Dickson has a priority enrolment area for Gungahlin, and a lot of students from Gungahlin come to Dickson. They pointed out that it would create some real inequities if their students, simply because they lived in Gungahlin, had to pay additional fares to get to Dickson, even though they lived within the priority enrolment area for the college.
We have asked the Government to rectify that situation, because that is simply a nonsensical situation. Obviously, the most appropriate way to deal with it is to have Gungahlin with its own college. But, if that is not possible for cost and other reasons, then there are some cheaper solutions. One would be to not impose that zonal system constraint on students in Gungahlin who go to Dickson College.
On a final point, Mr Speaker, I think the issues raised with us by Copland College deserve mention in this debate. Copland College, as we are aware, is a college which is struggling to maintain its viability. They are also a priority enrolment college for secondary age students in the Gungahlin area, but they have been seeking from ACTION for some time a direct bus route service from Gungahlin, servicing their college. That has not been forthcoming. It was trialled, we understand, for a short period of time, but then discontinued. Copland expressed their frustration that this was a real chicken-and-egg problem. ACTION tells the college, "We will not provide the service because there are not enough students who use it. Not enough students travel from Gungahlin to Copland". Copland says, "Well, until you have the service in place, not enough students are going to go to the college".
We certainly are sympathetic with the college's point of view, and we would ask the Government to reconsider the provision of a direct bus service from the Gungahlin area to Copland College. Not only would it allow the college to maintain its viability; but it would also, potentially, allow the Government to not necessarily have to address the issue of a secondary college in Gungahlin itself, for budget reasons, for perhaps a little while longer. But, importantly, it would also allow students in Gungahlin the choice which they are entitled to, with three colleges having priority enrolment over the Gungahlin area.