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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Friday, 27 June 2008) . . Page.. 2200 ..

100 new buses. However, a significant number of our buses are now over 20 years of age, a first in the ACT’s history. We also want to see how well this rear-engined program goes and how well that goes to plugging the gap. It could be a good policy but we have some reservations about that, too.

ACTION has failed either to retain or successfully recruit the numbers of drivers required for our bus service. In some cases, buses simply do not operate as scheduled because of the driver shortage, literally leaving people out in the cold whilst waiting for a bus that is never going to come. The government has got some big challenges with its drivers.

I still have not got a satisfactory answer, in terms of ACTION staffing, on whether they have finally got around to staffing the bus interchanges properly. We are deeply concerned still, although we now welcome the announcements by government that the CCTV program will roll out in the interchanges, but it remains to be seen whether they are adequately staffed to ensure passenger safety.

We support the budget but we have some deep concerns and wonder whether the government will spend the money wisely to bring up to scratch the services which have been neglected.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (10.55): In my opinion, this is one of the most important line items in the budget. We are unique in the ACT in our role in this place of combining state and municipal-type services. I fear there are probably many who are not overly bothered with these municipal-type services. Put up against heady, philosophical debates about social issues, I suppose some people might find this a rather boring and mundane subject. However, of all of the thousands of issues that have been raised with me over the past few years, urban service issues are by far the most common.

I believe that municipal services should be one of the highest priorities of the ACT government. Sadly, the appearance of the territory has declined, and to arrest this decline, it is necessary to be more proactive in regularly maintaining municipal infrastructure. I agree with what Mr Pratt said about having a longer term plan. As I have said, municipal issues are raised with me time and time again by constituents. Concerns range from matters as straightforward as cracked footpaths, potholes, poor street lighting and overgrown trees or hedges, through to the need for the expansion of roads like the GDE. Similarly, other parts of this portfolio, notably ACTION buses, are primary concerns for many of our constituents. I will talk in more detail about ACTION shortly.

I do acknowledge at this point, as I did with the health minister, that I am grateful for the diligent approach of the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services to responding to representations that I make on behalf of my constituents. I am sure that my letters on behalf of constituents drive him and his staff mad and the officials that have to draft them.

Mr Hargreaves: I think it is just the volume of them.

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