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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 May 2016) . . Page.. 1446 ..

Many of the Burkitt Street residents enjoy quite reasonable mobility and like to go shopping, visit friends and relatives, attend entertainment events as well as go to medical appointments and attend to other health-related needs associated with the process of ageing. But some are unable to use their own transport and they need to rely on others. One of the means has been ACTION buses.

But in its wisdom this government has decided that the bus routes that run along Burkitt Street and provide an important service to local residents, are no longer required. This government cancelled the Burkitt Street services and then even removed the bus shelters, which were often used by residents as resting points when they simply wanted to go for a walk.

I have made a number of representations to the government, including letters and questions on notice, on behalf of Burkitt Street residents. In answers to my questions on notice, the then minister for transport, Mr Rattenbury, described the removal of the bus services and shelters, which were replaced with the so-called flexible bus service—putting the onus back on the villages for the provision of other transport options—as “improvements”. Mr Rattenbury said that the government consulted on the so-called improvements. But we all know what the government’s consultation process is like in most cases. It is little more than lip-service when it comes to matters of this kind. Clearly, the views of the Burkitt Street residents were not considered.

I would like to contrast the sort of consultation that was provided for the Burkitt Street residents with the sort of consultation that is outlined in the government’s MOU with the unions, where it describes “consultation” as follows:

Consultation means providing relevant information to UnionsACT and/or the relevant unions as identified … It means more than a mere exchange of information. For consultation to be effective, the participants must be contributing to the decision-making process, not only in appearance but in fact.

Burkitt Street residents did not get to make any contribution to the decision-making about their bus services. Mr Rattenbury said that the government did not consult on the removal of the bus shelters. Had he done so, he might have become aware of the multipurpose uses of these shelters by local residents.

It is true that the retirement villages have community transport available for residents. But those services are generally for group travel. They cannot be expected to meet the day-to-day needs of individual residents. They certainly cannot meet the needs of residents who might decide during breakfast that they would like to go to the shops, the movies or a restaurant.

As for ACTION’s flexible service, it is one of the great misnomers of this government. Madam Assistant Speaker, it is abjectly inflexible. Anyone who wants to use the service must book fully two days prior to travel. How is that a flexible service for a resident who might suddenly receive notice of a visitor coming to town, who might decide over breakfast, as we all do, to make a particular visit that day or who might suddenly be asked to meet a doctor’s appointment because there is a cancellation?

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