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The Importance of a Well-connected and Practical Bus Network for Canberra’s Outer Suburban Areas

Madam Speaker, I thank Mr Parton for raising this matter of public importance in the Assembly today. I suspect those opposite may be growing tired of hearing from the Canberra Liberals about the importance of a well-connected and practical bus network for Canberra’s outer suburbs, but I stand to assure them that those who live in these suburbs haven’t grown tired of this topic yet.

Whenever I hold a mobile office anywhere in Belconnen, meet with residents in their homes, or even just bump into them at the local shops, I can be quite certain I will hear about the woeful state of this government’s transport network. You see, Madam Speaker, ordinary Canberrans who have been left high and dry by Network 19 aren’t going to stop talking about it until they have a public transport system that genuinely gets them where they need to go in a reasonable amount of time.

We who live in my electorate of Ginninderra tend to be quite practical people, Madam Speaker. We can be told that we have ‘more buses, more often’ or that we’re ‘better connected’, but we tend to see right through flimsy slogans that don’t reflect our day-to-day lived experience. Belconnen residents know firsthand that they have fewer transport options that take longer than the previous network, and no Minister for False Assurances is going to convince them otherwise.

I remind this Assembly that I tabled a petition in May that was signed by 1,180 ACT residents. Signatories included:

  • former Xpresso riders, upset that their commutes have increased by 30-to-40 minutes each way, who want their old buses back;

  • parents whose children used to be able to get to school quickly and easily who want their school buses back; and

  • residents in Macquarie, Cook and Aranda who would love to get their old service back despite earlier complains because it was at least better than being left on the side of the street.

I feel confident, Madam Speaker, that many Belconnen residents who work hard in non-office-based employment would happily sign a petition this month expressing disgust that promised weekend bus services have been randomly cut, leaving them unable to get to their jobs with no warning.

In all cases, the residents who speak with me just want simple answers: why did this government feel compelled to stuff the bus network up so badly? Was it because they don’t care about the hardworking families who live in places like West Belconnen? Or was it just sheer incompetence? Can we actually build trams without destroying reliable bus networks in our outer suburbs?

As I have said before in this chamber, people are not stupid. They know what a trip to work or school, to visit family or the local shops, looked like just six months ago, and they know what it looks like now. Maybe those opposite think that, with just a bit more time, people will forget. But they won’t. Five, six, seven days each week they are reminded that this government is stealing an hour or more of their precious time that should be spent with their families instead.

Madam Speaker, on behalf of these people, I again congratulate Mr Parton for raising this matter of public importance today. Thank you.

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