Page 1983 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 6 May 2009

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being made by government have been increasing in that time. So part of it is to meet the increasing costs in providing services to the community. I think the Chief Minister said today that 80 per cent of ACTION is funded through the budget and 20 per cent through the fare box. I think it is only reasonable that the government increase fares after a period when they have not been increased at all.

People understand. Most fees and charges across government are indexed every year. I think the fact that we have not done it in the bus fares means that we have needed to respond in this budget. I think it is a pretty modest increase. As to our other investments in public transport, we are hopeful that more people will choose to travel on the bus.

In relation to parking, let’s get real. Our parking charges in the ACT relative to other jurisdictions are extremely low. We have included in this budget a pretty modest increase to a charge that has not been increased for some time, to reflect increases in costs and, over time, to change behaviour to make sure that the community is thinking of other options in relation to transport than bringing their vehicles into work and using the car parks every day.

It is a pretty simple reason. We have not increased costs in either of those areas for some time, and I think it is realistic and fair that we do so. In addition, over the longer term we would like more people to get on buses and fewer people to bring their cars. If increasing costs changes behaviour, then that is a good thing.

MR SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, a supplementary question?

MRS DUNNE: Treasurer, apart from “it seemed like a good idea at the time”, what was the policy imperative of imposing increased parking fees at the same time as increasing bus fares?

MS GALLAGHER: Essentially the government have decided that these fees have not been increased for some time, and we have taken a decision that this is the time to increase fees; that it is reasonable that we do this across a whole range of areas in government. We are investing enormous amounts in our public transport system. We have done that through Network 08, we are doing that with additional funding in this budget, and a reasonable increase of 11 per cent, averaged out, I do not think the Canberra community are going to be too upset about. I think they are prepared to pay for a good quality public transport system. That is what we are building for them and that comes at a cost. It is 80 per cent funded by the budget, 20 per cent funded by the fare box and it is only fair that we increase bus fees by 11 per cent. I do not think that is unreasonable, I do not think the community will think that unreasonable and, as we continue to build our public transport system, I think people will understand that.

But let us face it: we have a few options open to us when we look at increases in revenue to the government. It is fair that in areas such as parking and public transport we try to keep pace with the increases in costs.

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