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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 218 ..

School Bus Fares

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, through you, I direct a question to the Minister for Urban Services. At the Tuggeranong Community Council meeting last Thursday you will recall - because you were there, as were Mr Wood and Mr Kaine - a group of women anxious about school bus fares. One of the women, with tears brimming in her eyes, said that once food, power and water bills were the major items of her budget. Now she finds that school bus fares are the largest item. Minister, why is it necessary for your Government to impose so much hardship on these people? Why is it necessary that you remove the educational choice of families?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, it is an interesting question that is posed about the new network. It is curious that perhaps Mr Hargreaves does not then make reference to the article that appeared in the Valley View quite accurately recording the meeting that took place. Yes, there is some angst in the community over the new system and its impact on some families and their ability to get their kids to school. The Valley View says:

Mr Kaine, the former ACT Urban Services Minister, said the new system had gone 99 per cent of the way to improving the bus service for Canberra residents and needed only to be tweaked to make it a more equitable system for all school children.

Mr Hargreaves then jumped up, and the Valley View has accurately recorded what he said as well:

Mr Hargreaves also applauded ACTION's new bus system before focusing on the new zone system.

"To be fair, ACTION has done a superb job given that we've had such a monumental change," he said.

The point is that everybody is happy with the new network in terms of service levels - - -

Mr Hargreaves: No, they are not.

MR SMYTH: Please listen, if you are interested. Everybody is happy with the 20 per cent increase in services, the new through routing and the ability to get to their destination without necessarily having to go through an interchange.

How are we able to deliver that? We are able to deliver that because the new network as a whole has many components, some of which are the zone structure, the new fare structure and the new route structure. They are inextricably intertwined and you cannot undo one without losing something in the others. This is what those opposite choose to ignore.

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