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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2741 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

Mr Speaker, it has been funny because we have had a number of phone calls to my office today from ACTION bus drivers who have said, "Well, we were not quite aware that that is what has been proposed. If we had known that we would have voted the other way."

I really fear for the future of ACTION, Mr Speaker. I really fear for those services that are utilised by the most needy, the most vulnerable in our community, because, take my word for it, they will be the first ones that are targeted. It will not be next year; it will be further down the track, Mr Speaker. They are the services which will go. They are the jobs which will go. I hope I am proven incorrect, Mr Speaker, but I only need look at the history of this place and the history of the bodies that have been corporatised, or turned into authorities, whatever cute little term you want to give them. I understand the Labor Party have decided to change some of the terms to appease their consciences somewhat, but the fact remains that this is the first step towards the end of ACTION. This will be a day that the unions and the Labor Party will regret.

I look forward to entering the debate later on some of the amendments that have been negotiated between the two major parties. I understand that there has been some agreement. I just want to make the point, Mr Speaker, that the union and their workers in particular have been conned. They have accepted the bribe. They have been placed in a position of fear. They have been forced to make this decision, and it is a regrettable one.

MR KAINE (8.19): It is interesting that Mr Osborne challenges me to put forward the government's arguments as to why this is a good deal or why it is not. I do not propose to do that, Mr Speaker. However, I do begin from the premise that I agree in principle with what the government is proposing to do here.

The reason why I do that is that after long experience in this place, and for some years of that as a minister, one of the things that concern me about ACTION is that there is nobody at the moment who is charged with strategic thinking in connection with this operation. You have a very effective chief executive officer down there who is responsible for the operations of ACTION and he does that very well. I think I have a bit of an echo in the background, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Order! I will not tolerate interjections from the gallery. Interjectors will be removed. Think about it, gentlemen.

MR KAINE: The fact is that it is the government that should be providing the strategic thinking and the strategic plan for the public transport network in Canberra, and at the moment it is not doing that. It seems to me that if you corporatise this body and put a good board in to run it, you then have the capacity not only to run the operation but also to do that strategic thinking and develop a strategic plan for the future, perhaps thinking even 10 years or more ahead. Some people might say that that is not terribly important, but I believe it is.

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