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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5252 ..

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms MacDonald for her question. I am very pleased to confirm to the Assembly today that the government will more than double the ACTION accessible bus fleet by June next year, Mr Speaker, with a $23.4 million investment in 62-read it-new buses. Mr Speaker, the acquisition of 62 new accessible buses, totalling $23.4 million, confirms the government's commitment to improving access to our passenger transport system. ACTION has recently completed the signing of two new contracts for the purchase of new buses for its bus fleet. This means that our accessible fleet will more than double by June next year, Mr Speaker.

This means that ACTION will meet the Disability Discrimination Act accessibility targets of 25 per cent-

Mrs Dunne: I would like them to be able to travel safely. They can't be restrained.

MR CORBELL: Negative, negative, negative, Mr Speaker, that is all we hear from Mrs Dunne.

Mr Speaker, this means of course that ACTION will meet its target of 25 per cent of its fleet being accessible well ahead of the target date of 2007. In fact, we will achieve it, Mr Speaker, by the middle of next year. We will have to, of course, make our fleet fully accessible by the year 2022, consistent with the DDA target.

Mr Speaker, I am happy to confirm for members that ACTION has finalised contract negotiations for 42 new Scania ultra-low-floor, air-conditioned, compressed natural gas buses, with these new buses being progressively delivered into Canberra from January next year. We have already set aside, as members would be aware, $17.2 million in capital funds for this purchase.

In addition, Mr Speaker, it is worth making the point that ACTION has also signed a contract for an additional 20 new Irisbus diesel-powered, ultra-low-floor, air-conditioned, accessible buses to accelerate the replacement of older, less accessible buses in its fleet. The government has provided an additional $6.17 million in capital funds for this purchase.

Mr Speaker, ACTION made this purchase because these 20 buses were built to an order placed by a private bus company in New South Wales, which subsequently decided it could not accept delivery of the buses because of its own financial problems. Mr Speaker, for that reason, the buses were available at cost price to ACTION, and ACTION took the prudent step of acquiring these buses at a very competitive price.

It now means that ACTION has an additional 20 low-floor, air-conditioned, accessible buses to add to its fleet. This brings to over 60 the total additional accessible buses that ACTION will now have in its fleet, Mr Speaker. We are doubling the amount of wheelchair-accessible buses in our fleet and we are meeting that three years ahead of the target, Mr Speaker, and are far outstripping the measly amount of money put in place by the previous government when it came to their so-called bus fleet upgrade.

Mr Stanhope: I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper, Mr Speaker.

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