Page 270 - Week 01 - Thursday, 15 December 2016

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minister, Dr Marty Natalegawa. Just this week my office received an email from the ANU, which I will—(Time expired.)

MR STEEL: Minister, can you elaborate on the government’s recent announcement to trial free off-peak travel on buses for seniors and concession cardholders as well as the free city loop?

MS FITZHARRIS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am getting used to two minutes to reply rather than four. Certainly during the election campaign Labor committed to a number of measures designed to encourage Canberrans to make greater use of public transport. A centrepiece commitment was to trial free off-peak travel on buses for seniors and concession cardholders. This morning I was very pleased to announce that this one-year trial will commence on 14 January next year.

We are delivering on this commitment within the first 100 days of the new Barr Labor government. Free travel will be available in all off-peak periods, including all day Saturday and Sunday and on all public holidays. Free travel will also be available during the working week between 9 am and 4.30 pm and after 6 pm.

In order to ensure that only passengers with a valid senior or concession entitlement are able to take advantage of this trial, free travel will only be available to customers who use a MyWay card. This will enable the directorate to more accurately attract patronage and assist with the review of the trial.

I am not sure that having an honorary doctorate at the ANU would give Marty Natalegawa a concession card. But to comment further on this email from the ANU, it states, “I had Dr Marty Natalegawa, former Indonesian foreign minister on campus for his honorary doctorate and he told me how much he and his wife enjoyed using the city loop bus service around Canberra yesterday.” I am sure that the opposition will be very pleased to hear that and also to hear that the city loop service has just carried its 40,000th passenger.

MS ORR: Minister, can you advise what progress the government is making to ensure that seniors who live in the ACT are able to benefit from public transport concessions in New South Wales?

MS FITZHARRIS: I certainly can, and I am pleased to confirm that last month my directorate, in partnership with Transport for NSW, has developed a new process that automatically validates ACT seniors’ eligibility for concession travel in New South Wales. This new process will enable ACT seniors to obtain a gold senior or pensioner Opal card that does not expire as long as they remain eligible. Transport for NSW is removing the 60-day expiry period on around 880 existing eligible ACT seniors gold Opal cards. If you are over 60, a permanent resident of the ACT and working 20 hours or fewer each week, you are eligible for an ACT seniors card.

Let me take this opportunity to remind existing ACT seniors who already have a gold or pensioner Opal card of the benefits of registering their card. These benefits include that the balance can be protected if the card is lost, stolen or damaged; customers can request a replacement Opal card for free and transfer the balance to the replacement card; and customers can check their travel history.

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