Page 3216 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 13 November 2007

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The bill provides $227,000 in recurrent and $100,000 in capital funds in 2007-08 for the introduction of a special Nightlink taxi scheme on Friday and Saturday nights to improve public transport options and enhance late-night public safety in Civic. The flat-fare Nightlink service will allow ride-sharing between taxi patrons heading in the same direction and will operate from specially designed and designated taxi ranks. The total commitment to this initiative is more than $1 million over the budget and forward estimates.

The bill I have introduced today contains funding for a suite of other modest but vitally important transport initiatives: awareness campaigns relating to road safety, cycling and pedestrian safety—activities that will support the ACT road safety action plan. Let us remind ourselves that road safety is in our own hands, the hands holding the wheel or the handlebars. Together, these campaigns will cost a quarter of a million dollars in 2007-08 and $1.038 million over the next four years.

As part of this comprehensive transport package, the government has committed to a bus replacement strategy that will ensure that our fleet remains modern and that it meets the needs of those in our community who have physical disabilities. This is a significant commitment to the upgrade of the fleet, with around 100 buses being replaced over the budget cycle. Financing and procurement details for the bus replacement program are currently being finalised and the appropriation for these vehicles, which it is anticipated will be in excess of $50 million, will be part of the 2008-09 budget.

This transport package, spanning improvements to network services, new buses, improved interchanges and greater safety, totals $75 million over the forward estimates—an unparalleled signal of the government’s commitment to ensuring that Canberrans think twice before reaching for the car keys.

We Canberrans are fortunate to live in a city where, by and large, we can go about our business and live our lives feeling safe and secure. That is not to say that we ought not strive to do more. It is not to claim that each of us is equally confident and comfortable in every situation. The creation of a safe and secure environment that can be enjoyed by all is high on the agenda of the government, and this bill allows us to continue to meet community expectations. It contains funding for closed circuit television cameras, not just at bus interchanges, but also at venues where large numbers of Canberrans congregate—the Canberra Stadium and Manuka Oval, and at selected other points across the city.

Today, the government also commits nearly $4 million in new money to a major interagency sexual assault reform initiative. There will be new positions to improve victim support and coordination, and we will establish off-site remote witness facilities, expand prosecution resources and accelerate law reform. This is a major initiative, designed in consultation with victims themselves. My hope is that it will not only lessen the trauma that many victims of sexual assault report they experience, as they navigate the criminal justice system, but also improve outcomes. Still in the area of public safety and crime prevention, the government will inject an extra $965,000 into the vehicle immobilisers scheme, targeting less well-off Canberrans and those who drive older cars.

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