Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank Ms C. Burch for bringing this motion before the Assembly today. I rise to speak in full support of the idea that the Minister for Transport should apologise to Canberrans for disastrous changes to the transport network.
In doing so, I wish to share the experiences of a Canberra resident who recently contacted me to explain his situation and ask for redress. Nick, as I will call him, is a young man who works as an apprentice in Hume. When he accepted this apprenticeship, he understood that he would be able to travel to the worksite each day by taking the no. 88 bus from Symonston to Hume. This gave him the confidence and sense of independence that allowed him to start this new and important chapter in his life.
And then this tired old government decided they could somehow improve the bus network by axing people’s buses and removing their stops. In Nick’s case, he found himself working in a suburb that no longer has any public transportation at all. Hume is filled with businesses that are engaged in light manufacturing, providing many opportunities for young Canberrans to apprentice in a trade, but now it has been cut off for any who don’t own their own vehicles or are too young to get licences.
Nick has tried to deal with this disastrous change by catching rides to and from Hume with others he knows who also work there. This fix, however, proved unreliable, and consequently Nick struggled to consistently get himself to the worksite on time … and sometimes, despite his best planning, he couldn’t get there at all. End result: Nick faces losing his apprenticeship – along with the hopes and dreams attached to it.
This is the last thing he wants to happen, so Nick has started travelling to Hume via taxi. This costs him $25 each way, he explained to me. If he also needs to take a taxi home afterwards, the total expense is $50 per day. To put this into context, Madam Speaker, that is almost half of Nick’s daily pay rate. The Barr government’s decision to cancel his bus nearly cost Nick his job, and now it is costing him nearly half of his income.
I hope, Madam Speaker, that you understand how Nick feels. I think it should be obvious to every member of this Assembly what Nick thinks of this government’s so-called improvements to the bus network. Nick has done everything right, but this government’s failed transport changes have made his life very hard.
Nick deserves an apology, and forgotten Hume deserves a bus. Nick wants to complete his apprenticeship, and that means the bus needs to come back. Where is the party that’s for the workers? Apparently long gone, drinking sparkling water and being merry whilst others suffer. Shame!
I join with my Liberal colleagues in calling on the Minister for Transport to apologise to Nick and the many thousands of Canberrans like him. I also hope that those opposite will have the good sense to genuinely fix this nightmare and bring Hume’s bus back. Thank you.