Page 3735 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 28 October 2015

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Investment in Canberra’s transport system provides opportunities for increasing and supporting social inclusion right across our community—from Belconnen to Tuggeranong, from Gungahlin to Woden and here into the city. Inadequate transport can sometimes contribute to social exclusion—which seems to be the path that the Canberra Liberals want to take our Canberra community down—particularly for people who live in a car dependent community, as we do here in the ACT. A good transport system that provides choice can make a massive difference to the lives of people who have a disability, who are on low incomes or who are unable to own or drive a car, and it increases their opportunities to access goods, services and activities, just like the rest of us do every day of our lives.

Quality public transport systems can increase people’s ability to participate adequately in society, including through education choices, employment, public services, social and recreational activities. Quality public transport connections can stimulate and renew suburban areas and provide basic mobility to many disadvantaged groups across our city. In many cities, a convenient and well-integrated transport system has successfully integrated with the fabric of the city to create a more livable space for all sections of the community. It helps to shape more compact, walkable and livable cities, with vibrant community places and spaces for people to enjoy, and it enhances accessibility for the community to travel to events and attractions that they might otherwise avoid.

There is a great social dividend in shared, public transport, which brings people together from all walks of life and fosters a strong sense of inclusion and equality. I see it often myself. From my own personal experiences and those of the people I talk to, the social benefits are enormous, such as the ability to catch up with people you have not seen for a long time or would not stay in touch with unless you did not see them on the bus. On occasion I am able to catch the bus into work. Recently I bumped into a friend of mine whom I went to school with at Ginninderra high. I had not seen her for about 20 years. We talked about the school, of course, and our memories from that time, but also about what our children were doing and how they were growing up and the work we were doing, finding out more about each other. Of course, we made a commitment to catch up again, and I am sure we will on the next ACTION bus that we catch together into the city.

There is also a great willingness for people who travel on public transport to help each other out. During the school holidays I took my children to Melbourne and we stayed in the BIG4 caravan park just out of the city. We used the local bus network to get to the tram station to get into the city and get on the light rail. I tell you what: the helpfulness of the Melbourne community was a really great feeling.

It is the sort of help we experience here in the ACT as well when we catch public transport. I hear stories from people and my friends about their experiences of people looking out for each other. They know the people who catch the same bus every day and make sure that the bus driver stops and waits till they are picked up so that they can catch their bus into the city or whatever event they are going to. It makes inclusion and community participation possible for some of the poorest people in our community to access support services, appointments, social events and other

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