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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2738 ..

ACTION Corporation Bill 1999

[Cognate bill:

Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Bill 2000]

Debate resumed from 7 August 2001, on motion by Mr Smyth:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SPEAKER: Is it the wish of the Assembly to debate this order of the day concurrently with order of the day No 3, Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Bill 2000? There being no objection, that course will be followed. I remind members that in debating order of the day No 2 they may also address their remarks to order of the day No 3.

MR OSBORNE (8.07): Mr Speaker, this is a black day for public transport in Canberra. This is a move that I fully expected from the Liberal Party who are entrenched in their belief that government is a business. So, on that score, I am not all that disappointed in them. However, I still cannot believe that the Labor Party are going to vote this stupid proposal through.

Mr Speaker, I will be voting against this legislation. I have appealed to ACTION staff to reconsider their support for this bill. I reminded them of their mates who used to work for Totalcare. I reminded them of the lack of ministerial accountability over the bungled hospital implosion. I reminded them that from now on the decisions affecting them would not be made in the open forum of parliament but behind closed door by a faceless board of directors, and I asked them if this was what they thought they were voting for.

Mr Speaker, I have said several times in past debates, and with the election almost upon us it is timely to say it again to the two major parties, that government is not a business; it's about providing services. While it is one thing to strive to be businesslike, it is quite another to force legitimate service-oriented agencies like ACTION into becoming a business in their own right.

This move does nothing to enhance public transport services to the public, nothing to improve accountability, and nothing to improve the lot of workers. Instead, Mr Speaker, it has the potential to make the whole community greatly worse off.

I have yet to hear one valid reason why this bill should be passed. I do understand that operating ACTION as a statutory authority will lead to more industrial disputes, reduced services, less staff, lower wages and, one day eventually, privatisation.

Despite their protests, at times like these both the Liberal and Labor parties are really no different from each other, except for some, Mr Speaker, I am sure.

Mr Berry: I don't need your help. I'll be right.

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