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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (15 June) . . Page.. 1855 ..

Mr Kaine: Sixteen thousand.

MR SMYTH: Approximately 16,000 applications have been received-Mr Kaine pays attention-under the free school student travel scheme, and we are receiving more applications every day. The curious thing is that currently there are only approximately 15,000 students who travel to school by bus. That means the scheme has encouraged more parents to consider using a bus as a means of transport for their children to travel to school. We hope to see that leading to a reduction in the number of parents using private motor vehicles to take their children to school. That would be much better for the environment through there being fewer greenhouse gas emissions, for instance.

Mr Berry: Seventy-five per cent miss out.

MR SPEAKER: And you will be 100 per cent out of here very shortly if you keep that up, Mr Berry.

MR SMYTH: Concerns were raised on WIN news last night about parking outside the Gold Creek Primary Schools at Nicholls and I think that the Chief Minister had a call this morning about parking at the Red Hill Primary School. Hopefully, the provision of free school transport will see a reduction in traffic congestion, and therefore parking congestion, around our primary schools.

Mr Berry's recent press release said that no-one has called for the introduction of free school buses. I think the 16,000 applications we have had are a very strong answer from the community that it is actually interested in the school transport scheme. ACTION expects that, by the start of this system in September, it will have about 20,000 applications processed.

MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question; I could not let the opportunity go by. Mr Berry, in his media release, claimed that 75 per cent of the students will not receive any benefit. Will the students who will not be eligible under the free school student travel scheme receive any benefit under the new school bus travel arrangements?

MR SMYTH: For those students who will not get a free travel pass there will be a benefit as well. Clearly, members opposite have not read the budget papers or listened to or read the media reports as the government has said that it will also introduce a new flat fare, a one-zone fare, effective from 23 July, the first day of the third term. Clearly, that means everyone has the potential to benefit.

Mr Berry is wrong in his claim that 75 per cent have been left out. When the free school student travel scheme starts in September, those students who are not eligible for a free pass will be able to use the one-zone fare, the flat fare, to travel to school anywhere across the territory.

What will that do, Mr Speaker? That will put hundreds of dollars, potentially, back into the pockets of families for spending on education, uniforms, text books or anything else they choose. That is what this government is about. Through sound financial management, having made up for Labor's $344 million debt, we are now able

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