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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 756 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: I do not know because the payments are received not by me but by the Receiver of Public Moneys. The Commissioner for Revenue receives those monies. I have to check with her as to whether the moneys are coming in as expected. I think from recollection the moneys are payable quarterly by the insurance companies and there would have been at least two quarters paid. I imagine that we have therefore $5m in the kitty, but I will check that and find out. That is what the legislation says we receive - $10m over a full financial year.

School Bus Services

MR OSBORNE: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services, Mr Smyth, and it is about school buses. I may have spoken to him about this in the past, but I will still ask it. Minister, it has been brought to my attention that some of the school buses which pull into St Edmund's College, the articulated buses in particular, are so crowded that children are sitting in the stairwells on those buses. I understand that ACTION's safety standard is to allow a maximum 110 children on an articulated bus, that is 69 seated and 41 standing, and 65 on a standard bus, with 40 seated and 25 standing. Are you aware, Minister, that parents and the school have on occasions this year counted in excess of these numbers? Given that some jurisdictions periodically consider the possibility of seatbelts on their buses, do you consider that to have 41 children standing in the aisle with their school bags is a safe standard to be using here in the Territory?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I thank the member for his question and his interest in this matter. For people to stand on buses is quite within the law, and the 110-passenger capacity of the articulated buses is based on a certain number standing. The same is true for the non-articulated buses. There were some dilemmas early in the piece. Because of fluctuations in the first couple of weeks of school, larger numbers and then smaller numbers of students were carried. I am advised by the department that those have all been rectified; that the appropriate numbers are carried; that excesses to the loadings are not carried, and that all buses now arrive on time for the commencement of school.

MR OSBORNE: I did not hear an answer on whether the Minister felt that having 41 children standing in the aisle with their school bags is a safe standard, so I look forward to that in his answer to my supplementary question. Minister, could you inform the Assembly what studies ACTION have undertaken or have looked at which specifically look at the safety on articulated buses, and who decided on the numbers that were safe on the buses? Was that ACTION or the manufacturers?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, as to standing, it is considered safe to have a certain number of passengers per bus standing. That is appropriate. On many buses there is a place where students can place their bags. As to the safety studies, I would have to seek advice from the department as to what studies, if any, have been done. As to actual safety standards, I will find out which ones they comply to and respond to Mr Osborne's question accordingly.

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