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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2199 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

a longstanding convention. Should they be elected in October, God forbid, it is something they will regret.

They may throw out the 1,300 disadvantaged children who already benefit from free school travel. We have rolled both schemes into one and are working towards the delivery of one scheme. If they stop this, they may also take out the free travel benefits that 1,300 Canberra students already receive. In that, they would do those people an immediate disservice, because they do not understand what they are doing.

More than 16,000 students have said that they will be expecting to receive free bus travel. They have applied for it. They are entitled to it. It is a commitment the government has made.

Labor will also deny the people of the ACT the benefit of 19 CNG buses for ACTION. Not only are those buses more environmentally friendly and not only do they create less greenhouse gas but they give us the opportunity to increase CNG refuelling facilities in the ACT. We are investigating making our refuelling facility open to the general public so they can go to the site-more sites if we build more-and fill CNG cars. That would increase access to CNG, increasing the benefit. But those opposite would put that on hold as well, as they always do.

We need to get into the contract so that we can start the production of those 19 buses. They will have a low floor that will dramatically increase accessibility for those with a disability in the ACT to access the bus fleet-something that those on this side of the house are dedicated to, something that those on that side of the house constantly ignore.

There are also environmental benefits. It is curious that Ms Tucker will vote against the government's introduction of new CNG buses. She has obviously not consulted those people she holds dear, groups like the conservation council, which saw this as a very worthwhile step in improving public transport in the ACT because it would encourage children to get on buses and learn about using buses and what a good way of travel they are and because it would reduce the impact on peak hours at schools in the morning and in the afternoon. We are getting a large amount of clutter with parents making single-destination trips to and from school to drop off or pick up students. The 19 CNG buses will be slowed down by those opposite.

What we have from those opposite is simply an attempt to stop the government from honouring a promise. It is an attempt to deny more than 16,000 school students in the ACT free transport. It is an attempt to stop the environment from benefiting from CNG buses and extra refuelling sites. It is obviously an endorsement of traffic at schools early in the morning and late in the afternoon, because they will not allow us to improve the bus services to schools.

Ms Tucker called for the government to buy CNG buses after we had made our announcement. It is curious that she happened to miss that one. It was fairly prominent in what we offered. The other thing that was missed in the reading of the budget was our promise of a one-zone flat fare for all school students. Oddly, after the budget, the Labor Party said, "What about a flat fare?" If you want to be idle, just read the press releases. It was all highlighted there. It is just a shame.

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