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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2410 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I think, in general, the report takes a sensible approach to what is a difficult issue. But the one concern that I must raise is the concern where I disagree with my colleagues in the report, and that is that we should not be going down the same path as the Government has gone down in imposing an arbitrary fare structure on school bus students, based on inadequate information, which is exactly what ACTION did and exactly what the Government did. Instead, the Government must go back and get some better information before it starts imposing these arbitrary cost structures on students who use school bus services.

MR OSBORNE (10.51): Mr Speaker, I will speak briefly about this report. Obviously, I am very interested in the outcome, given the motion moved a couple of months ago in relation to school bus fares. I have to say that I am disappointed - confused, perhaps - Mr Speaker, with the contradictions in this report. I see there that, even though the majority of members in this Assembly voted for a single fare for schoolchildren - they would pay only one fare over the three zones - both Mr Hird and the other member of the committee, who shall remain nameless, seem to have ignored that. They have been swayed by the Minister and have set up a regime where the price goes from 45c to $1.20, albeit over a period of three years.

That was one recommendation. I was very disappointed with that. Then I read the next point which seems to contradict that recommendation. It is about those children and families who can show that they are suffering financial hardship. I would question how the Government or ACTION proposes that people would do that. Are they going to walk in with their tax returns each year and say, "I'm in trouble and I can't afford it."? I question that. I think that is stupid, Mr Speaker.

They say that children who are currently at a school and who intend staying at that school will only have to pay the one-zone fare. One fare for the three zones was, I think, the main thrust of that motion I referred to. I thought, "That is pleasing". But then I started to think about families whose children are in fifth class or sixth class, who are faced with moving schools, if not next year, the year after, and who would be faced with a hike. Families with children in Year 9 and Year 10, when travelling to a college, would more than likely need to jump over two zones. I have to say, Mr Speaker, having only briefly read through the report since it was tabled, that I think it is a poor attempt at addressing the situation.

Mr Corbell's recommendation is probably the most sensible one of the lot in relation to the fare structures for students. I am disappointed that, given that the majority of members of the Assembly have a certain view on fares for students, it was not adopted by the committee. Mr Speaker, I will spend some more time reading the report, but some of the recommendations that follow strike me as strange. I just thought I should make that point.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (10.54): Mr Speaker, I thank the committee for the report. These are serious issues that affect the way children travel to school. The Government will consider what has been suggested here and will respond to it in an appropriate manner at some stage.

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