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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3174 ..

MRS CROSS: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, would you consider increasing rents for tenants every two years rather than yearly-which these families do not consider fair and reasonable-to help with family finances?

MR WOOD: I am required under the acts that apply to review it every year. It is a legal requirement, so that is what I do. I think it is equitable that I do that-I am not entirely happy about it, I might say. It is equitable because market rents are paid by about 17 per cent of public rent payers. These people, who are above the threshold, pay market rents and are therefore matching what is required in the private market. I do acknowledge that the rents in the private market are very high, and I think there is a very complex problem overall about that. But it is not something that I can easily deal with.

CountryLink train services

MR CORNWELL: My question is to the Chief Minister and concerns the "supposedly"temporary cessation of the CountryLink train service between Canberra and Sydney. Chief Minister, you were talking earlier about rights. Have you, in your responsibilities to this territory, been in communication with your New South Wales Labor counterpart regarding the continuation of this important service to the people of the ACT, particularly our elderly residents and travellers? You would have been aware of that as minister for ageing.

If so, what has been the outcome of your discussions? If not so, will you raise this matter with Mr Bob Carr-a most unfortunate name for a question about trains-when you meet with him at the premiers conference?

MR STANHOPE: I have raised this with my colleague Bob Carr. I wrote to him on the day New South Wales made this regrettable announcement. I have not yet had a response from Mr Carr. I have written to him and raised in strong terms our dissatisfaction with the cessation of the train service. I am more than happy to raise with him at COAG this week the ACT's strongest interest in ensuring the service-as I have in my letter to him.

It is a serious issue. I, along with you, have received a number of representations from Canberrans who have been seriously affected by the cessation of the service. It is a good service, and we believe its cessation to be regrettable. We are advised that it is temporary, and we are concerned to ensure that it is only a temporary break in the service. That is the position I have put. I have asked for it to be restored as soon as possible and am happy to continue to press Mr Carr for the return of the service-irrespective of his rather unfortunate views on bills of rights.

MR CORNWELL: Could you provide the Assembly with a copy of your letter to Mr Carr? In the event that this cessation is permanent, have you any proposed plans to overcome this problem?

MR STANHOPE: I am more than happy to make the letter available, Mr Cornwell. At this stage, I fully expect that New South Wales will restore the service. They have indicated that this is a temporary break in the arrangement, and I have no reason to suspect that they are doing anything other than telling the truth. They have advised

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