On the BUSES … NSW Parliament Legislative Assembly Hansard 5 March 2020

IF you watch Question Time with the Scomo Guvmnt, and you think that’s bad … and run with such bias … go and sit in the gallery of the NSW Legislative Assembly …

Yesterday, 5 March 2020, we in the gallery audience were appalled by the bullying and obvious bias displayed by the Deputy Speaker … she’s no fairy woman … shrieking … squawking and cutting Government and Opposition Members speech as with a knife … of course the government members were not subject to anywhere near the same extent. The Deputy Speaker continually squawked to Order!

ARE you aware that the vast majority of our bus and ferry services are already operated by the private sector?

11 out of the 14 metropolitan bus service contracts are operated by the private sector

-since privatisation Newcastle has seen a 19 per cent reduction in services

removal of 53 bus stops in Sydney’s inner west since privatisation and the private service has never once met on‑time running targets *

the Government plan is to cut 16 bus routes: 302, 314, 317, 373, 376, 377, 393 394, 395, 397, 399, L98, M10, M50, 891 and 893 to force commuters onto the light rail

80% of the bus services already provided by the private sector; 100% of the bus services outside of Sydney are provided by the private sector

-Constance response with exponential growth in the transport sector, therefore we need to privatise it

every other industrialised city in the world is going the exact opposite route

Following the pathetic response from Constance we all stood up and turned our back on Transport Minister, Andrew Constance.

Just as he has turned his back on commuters and bus drivers with bus privatisation!

The Deputy Speaker is the​​ Honourable Leslie Williams MP.

Legislative Assembly Hansard – 05 March 2020 – Proof

SYDNEY BUS SERVICES

The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: Private members’ statements are now interrupted for the consideration of a petition signed by 10,000 persons listed on theBusiness Paper regarding bus privatisation lodged by the member for Kogarah. I welcome all visitors to the public gallery. Thank you for joining us for the debate this afternoon. Before we commence the debate, and for the benefit of those in the public gallery, I take this opportunity to explain the process and the rationale behind this unique debate. It is unique because it enables the public to bring their concerns directly to the attention of the House.

The procedure is that the petition debate will start with a speech from the member who lodged the petition, who will be followed by up to four other members. A Minister will then respond and, to conclude the debate, the first speaker will speak in reply. After all members have spoken, the House will vote on the question that the House take note of the petition.

This question will, in most cases, be determined on the voices and be passed. However, if this is challenged by a member it may proceed to a division, where the bells are rung and members vote on the motion to take note of the petition by sitting on the appropriate sides of the House.

*Before I call the member for Kogarah, I remind members that a number of them are on three calls to order.

*The member for Londonderry, the member for Gosford and Canterbury are on three calls, and the member for Shellharbour, the member for Swansea and the member for Keira are on two calls.

*I will not hesitate to remove members from the Chamber if they do not abide by the standing order that states members with the call will be heard in silence.

The question is that the House take note of the petition.

Mr CHRIS MINNS (Kogarah) (15:59:22): There are scores of bus drivers in the gallery today who are angry. They are blamed for late services that they are not responsible for, scapegoated for a transport system that is comprehensively letting down the people of this State, and lied to by a government that no doubt many of them trusted and some of them even voted for.

*As we approached the last election they saw the Premier solemnly tell the people of New South Wales that she would cease all future privatisations. When asked about privatisation, she said “No, we are not, and if we were we would have told you upfront.”

Every other industrialised country in the world is investing in publicly owned transport. This Government is selling ours off. It will not say the word “privatisation”—the Liberals refuse to say it. They call it the “golden key”. They call it “franchising”. They call it “asset recycling”. They call it “outbound private involvement”. They call it “public-private horizontal investment”. They call it anything but what it is: selling off our assets.

We know what it means: fewer services, higher prices and more delays. I draw the House’s attention to the new owners of region 6, which was formerly owned by the taxpayer and privatised by the Berejiklian Government in February 2018.

Transit Systems, the winning bidder, sold the company after securing the contract in January 2020. Transit Systems’ Sydney bus routes generated about 27 per cent of the company’s revenue—nearly one third. After selling its stake in January, the original owner made $151 million in market value terms. The second founder made $107 million and the third founder made $41 million, according to filings submitted to the Australian Stock Exchange. I am not knocking them. No flies on those guys: If they were smart enough to buy it, that was up to them. But who was dumb enough to sell it? It was the Liberal Party of New South Wales. That is the situation.

Our transport system has been in chaos over the past few months but I report to the House that the Minister for Transport and Roads has developed an ingenious way of ensuring on-time running: He is stopping, cancelling and closing bus stops in Croydon, Arncliffe, the Princes Highway, Belrose, Canterbury, Dulwich Hill and many more.

Here is the evidence. The Government says, through its own paraphernalia, that the bus stops are going to “contribute to the New South Wales Government’s target of 95 per cent on-time running of bus services.”

It could apply this wonderful rationale to all sorts of government departments. NAPLAN results are down so close the schools; emergency departments are full, close the hospitals.

We can see the transport Minister getting up one day and saying, “We’ve got a great way of making the trains run on time; they’re not going to stop at any stations.” It is an ingenious idea. If you were on the train you could get a seat.

Why are we in this situation? We are in this situation because of chaos and mismanagement of the Transport portfolio. That is the situation. The Government is disastrously trying to claw back some cash from the assets that it owns.

Listen to this litany. Two weeks ago we found out that the Sydney Metro project had blown out by $4 billion.

The Sydney Metro West project has been effectively cancelled. Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 has been scrapped. The North South Aerotropolis Metro is soon to be cancelled and the Sydney Light Rail is $1 billion over budget, one year late and moves slower than a horse and cart.

a person riding a horse drawn carriage on a city street: A carriage is only slightly slower than the new Sydney trams, if the horses are walking

 Provided by Daily Mail A carriage is only slightly slower than the new Sydney trams, if the horses are walking

Source: https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/its-like-a-horse-drawn-carriage-sydneys-light-rail-is-the-slowest-system-in-the-world-taking-five-times-as-long-as-san-franciscos-trams/ar-BBYb9Fe

Ghost train on the light rail from Surry Hills, through to Randwick at 5pm. Many seats were empty and the trip was extremely slow. Picture: Tim Pascoe

Ghost train on the light rail from Surry Hills, through to Randwick at 5pm. Many seats were empty and the trip was extremely slow. Picture: Tim Pascoe

Source: https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/sydneys-light-rail-a-slow-train-to-nowhere/news-story/ef6afde499d820bdcced0fb8efcaf901?utm_content=SocialFlow&utm_source=DailyTelegraph&utm_campaign=EditorialSF&utm_medium=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR1CBYLA5TyxmHx_bGVSnBwxmVqp36IRr5xjDXD2PFwhjk2kU5cLO2U6AFU

That is the record of the transport Minister. When asked by journalists about the suggestion that there had been a $4 billion blowout on the Sydney Metro, the Minister said, “Yes, the metro is over budget’. One journalist asked by how much and the Minister said, “Well, between $2 and $3 billion”.

This is the party of fiscal responsibility!

The Minister lost $1 billion in one sentence. It is no wonder net debt in this State is the highest of any jurisdiction in the Commonwealth—$42 billion by the end of this term.

So what have we got? We have got chaos, mismanagement, poor oversight, bungled projects, blown-out time lines, the biggest debt in the State’s history and deceitful reporting practices. That has all led us to this point.

And what is the transport Minister’s response to this appalling record? It is the fault of the bus drivers—not a senior manager, not a politician, no-one else. We will not stand for bus drivers being blamed for the chaos and ineptitude of this Liberal Government. We will hold the Government to account on their behalf.

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: Order! I am aware that there are strongly held views on the matter to be debated today. Parliamentary debate allows those with opposing views to freely express themselves without interference. I therefore ask that people in the gallery to refrain from clapping or distracting debate in any way, including verbally or visually.

Ms GABRIELLE UPTON (Vaucluse) (16:05:09): I want to acknowledge our visitors in the gallery. For those of them who are bus drivers in our public transport system, I genuinely thank you for your efforts. You make a difference to the people who are my constituents in my electorate. I thank you and respect you for the job that you do. We all want the best public transport system for our communities. As a local member, I want that. I think even members of the Opposition would agree with that statement. The question is: How do we get there? How do we achieve that? That is where this Government disagrees with the Labor Opposition. This Government takes very seriously our responsibility to find better transport models so that we have a world-class transport system. We all want that.

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: I call the Leader of the Opposition to order for the first time.

Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: The Government says, “Let us have a look at new opportunities. Let us have a look at ways to improve our transport that you can share in with us”, and that includes being smart and at times getting out of the way and letting in other people who are part of delivering our transport services.

CAAN: ‘Getting out of the way’ … where have we heard that before? Cough … cough …

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*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: Order! I call the member for Mount Druitt to order for the first time. I call the member for Prospect to order for the first time.

Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: I say to you that the Government has a responsibility to do that. We will not apologise for it. It is our duty.

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*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: Order! I call the member for Blue Mountains to order.

Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: Can I just say that the vast majority of our bus and ferry services already are operated by the private sector with oversight, which is the franchise model run by Transport for NSW.

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER:  Order! I call the member for Blue Mountains to order for the first time. I call the Leader of the Opposition to order for the second time.

Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: In fact, 11 out of the 14 metropolitan bus service contracts are operated by the private sector. What has happened as a result of that? There is a stronger record of safe, reliable and efficient services meeting and exceeding transport and performance targets.

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: Order! I call the member for Mount Druitt to order for the second time.

Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: I say this: Shame on you, Labor, for standing in the way of better bus services for our community. Let me tell you why.

*The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member for Vaucluse will direct her comments through the Chair.

Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: Order! I call the member for Rockdale to order for the second time. I call the member for Blue Mountains to order for the third time.

Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: I say: Just have a look at the Sydney ferry network. It was franchised in 2012. It has been a romping success in my electorate. My community loves it. They are the most efficient, scenic and relaxing way to get across our harbour and into the city. It is my electorate’s transport mode of choice. I have 126 new ferry services on Sydney Harbour and six new ferries on those routes. As the local member I have $6.3 million invested into a new ferry wharf upgrade.

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: I call the member for Bankstown to order for the first time.

Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: Service performance has improved. There is on-time running. My constituents have a high level of satisfaction with those services and that did not come by accident: The franchising contracts have performance metrics in them.

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKERER: I call the member for Bankstown to order for the second time.

Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: Reliability averaged 99.8 per cent and I say, “Let’s go higher with those ferry services.” As a local member, I say that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. With my experience of franchising of the Sydney ferry network, I am optimistic based on good evidence about the franchising of our buses.

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: Order! I remind the member for Blue Mountains that she is on three calls to order. Under Standing Order 249A I direct that the member for Blue Mountains remove herself from the Chamber until the conclusion of the debate on the petition signed by 10,000 or more persons.

[Pursuant to sessional order the member for Blue Mountains left the Chamber at 16:13.]

Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: Madam Deputy Speaker, I am really disappointed. I am trying to get my point across and have my five minutes, but I have to say a lot of what I wanted to say has been interrupted by the appalling performance of Labor members. I say that we will have Transport for NSW running the services. On OpalCard People’s Day there will be on-demand services and more turn-up-and-go buses.

CAAN: Any comment from the Opposition Members was barely audible … if at all …

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: I call the member for Cessnock to order for the first time.

Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: We will have innovation in our transport sector.

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: I call the member for Swansea to order for the third time.

Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: Our drivers can share in a part of that. They are the benefits I want for my community and I believe we will get to them through the franchising of our bus services.

The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The question is that the House take note of the petition. I call the member for Coffs Harbour.

Mr Tim Crakanthorp: Madam Deputy Speaker—

Mr GURMESH SINGH (Coffs Harbour) (16:10:16): Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Ms Jodi McKay: Why would you call the member for Coffs Harbour?

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The Clerk will stop the clock. The member for Newcastle will resume his seat. I took the call from the first member who sought the call, as that is what happens.

CAAN: The Gallery saw Mr Tim Crakanthorp was already up and standing before the member for Coffs Harbour!!

Ms Sophie Cotsis: He did.

Mr Tim Crakanthorp: I did.

Ms Sophie Cotsis: He jumped before.

Mr Tim Crakanthorp: I jumped before him.

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: Order! Are Opposition members questioning my ruling? The member for Newcastle will resume his seat. I took the call from the first member who sought the call. It was clearly the member for Coffs Harbour. Under Standing Order 249A I direct that the member for Mount Druitt remove himself from the Chamber until the conclusion of the debate on the petition signed by 10,000 or more persons.

[Pursuant to sessional order the member for Mount Druitt left the Chamber at 16:14.]

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: I call the member for Canterbury to order. I direct the Serjeant-at-Arms to remove the member for Canterbury from the Chamber under Standing Order 249 for the remainder of this sitting day.

[The member for Canterbury left the Chamber at 16.14 accompanied by the Serjeant-at-Arms.]

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The member for Coffs Harbour has the call. He will be heard in silence. I do not want to remove the Leader of the Opposition from the Chamber, but I will not hesitate to do so if she continues to interject. The member for Coffs Harbour has the right to be heard in silence.

Mr GURMESH SINGH: I begin by acknowledging the attendance of people in the gallery today, especially in this weather. I note that the petition is about bus services. Typically people in the regions do not enjoy the same standards of public transport as exists in Sydney.

CAAN: Whose fault is that?

THE DRIVERLESS BUS!

Mr GURMESH SINGH: I do note that this petition calls for better bus services so this gives me a perfect opportunity to update the House and people in the gallery on an exciting development that is being trialled in Coffs Harbour.

The eight-week trial of a driverless bus called the BusBot began a year ago. It is a six-seat bus about the size of the table in the centre of the Chamber and it ran along the north wall of the Coffs Harbour Jetty for about half a kilometre. The purpose of the trial was for the driverless bus to learn how to handle obstacles. During the eight weeks over the Christmas holidays the BusBot had thousands of passengers, most of whom were very satisfied with it.

Phase two of the BusBot trial was in the Marian Grove Retirement Village. This phase was trialling an automated on-demand service whereby people in the retirement village could ask for a bus to arrive on demand and it would take them to various places around the village.

Phase three of the BusBot was launched at the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden, which I attended in the company of my parliamentary colleague the member for Myall Lakes and Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Transport. Phase three will explore different challenges for this driverless bus. The botanic garden has poor global positioning system reception and, due to the shadows and the narrow nature of the path, will require the BusBot to have much more programming and much more software to improve its automation.

You might ask what this has to do with buses in Sydney. I think this BusBot trial that is happening in Coffs Harbour and a few other places in New South Wales is—

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: I call the member for Maitland to order for the second time.

Mr GURMESH SINGH: —showcasing the automation that is happening right now. These days most new cars that you drive out of a dealer will come with some level of automation. Some cars, especially at the top end, can drive themselves but are held back by *regulation in this country.

Automation is definitely the future, especially in regional New South Wales.

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The member for Cessnock will come to order.

Mr GURMESH SINGH: I think that within this decade, and certainly within the next two decades, we will see automated transport as the norm in New South Wales. Automation will bring better bus services, especially in places such as Coffs Harbour.

With regards to the other topics in the petition, franchising has become the standard approach for delivery of contracted transport services across New South Wales. This is because the New South Wales Government recognises the benefits that experienced world-class private sector operators can bring to our transport networks to improve services for customers.

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The private sector has been operating buses in metropolitan Sydney and across New South Wales for decades in places such as Coffs Harbour, with a strong track record of safe, reliable and efficient services meeting or exceeding contracted performance targets. Some 11 out of 14 Sydney metropolitan bus service contracts are already operated by the private sector.

All regional, rural and outer metropolitan bus services in New South Wales are privately operated, with 600 individual bus contracts in place across New South Wales. Tendering of Sydney metropolitan bus services has delivered improved service, on-time running and a 9 per cent improvement in customer satisfaction as per annual surveys.

The New South Wales Government announced public transport reforms in October 2019 that will see the remaining three State Transit Authority bus service contracts franchised as part of the broader retendering of bus contracts across Greater Sydney over the coming three years. The aim of this process is to transform the current one-size-fits-all model of service delivery to one that gives our customers more choice and more services. We want to provide additional bus services across the city, deliver innovative new service options for customers and a fleet of new electric buses that will reduce air and noise pollution for our communities. Under this approach the New South Wales Government retains ownership of all assets as part of the franchising process and continues to control service levels and fares.

Mr TIM CRAKANTHORP (Newcastle) (16:17:10): You know, I am not too happy that I have to stand up here for another petition debate—

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: Order! The Clerk will stop the clock. I warn the member for Swansea for the last time. If she continues to interject I will remove her from the Chamber. That apllies to other members who are on three calls to order, including the member for Gosford. The member for Newcastle has the call.

Mr TIM CRAKANTHORP: As I was saying, I am not too happy that I have to stand up here for another petition debate to tell those members opposite what an abject failure the privatisation of buses in this State is. I should not have to.

As the member for Newcastle I have contributed to two previous debates with other members from Hunter electorates, representing over 20,000 people in the Hunter who signed a petition against the privatisation of buses in this State.

The member for Vaucluse stated that members on both sides of the Chamber have very different views on privatisation—yes, that is true! The view of members on this side of the House is that privatisation of the public bus network is an absolute dud.

The former Premier stood in Civic Park in Newcastle and guaranteed the people of Newcastle and the Hunter that we would have a world-class public transport system. What have we got? We have schoolchildren being left by the side of the road.*

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The member for Newcastle will direct his comments through the Chair. The member will be heard in silence.

CAAN: No direction from the Speaker or order for government members …

Now for the truth about the Newcastle disservice!

Mr TIM CRAKANTHORP: We have teenagers who have had to leave home at the crack of dawn so they could get to school on time. We have bus stops closed, blowouts in journey times and multiple transfers placed into what used to be a single bus trip.

We have people with illnesses such as cancer missing vital appointments, workers being forced back into their cars and elderly people abandoned and isolated. We even had people with impaired vision buy houses on bus routes so they could maintain their independence, only to have their bus stop and transport taken away.

Can members imagine for one moment how that would feel and what that would do to them? We are two years down the road and have things improved? No!

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: Order! I direct the Serjeant-at-Arms to remove the member for Swansea from the Chamber under Standing Order 249 for the remainder of the day.

[The member for Swansea left the Chamber at 16:22 accompanied by the Serjeant-at-Arms.]

Mr TIM CRAKANTHORP: I am still hearing about problems with this network.

On 27 January Richard wrote to me about the number 21 bus, the only service that travels from the east to the former train terminus. Some 20 per cent of Newcastle East’s population is over 65 years old. It is their only bus service and does not take them near a shopping centre or to the health services hub of Newcastle West.

On 17 February 2020 Tobias had a problem with the frequency of his service, the number 47. It starts too late in the day and finishes too early in the night.

On 18 February 2020 Amanda stated that, well, she had given up altogether. She wrote, “Since Keolis Downer took over I have abandoned the use of public transport to get from Belmont North to Honeysuckle. Since then I have been driving, because even with a 10 to 15 minute walk it is still half the time of the bus”.

Since coming to Parliament I have fought for the basic tenets of social justice and equity. I can tell you that Newcastle’s decimated bus network fails to achieve those values. It is an attack on some of our community’s most vulnerable people, people who rely on it the most.

A government that cannot care for its vulnerable is not just letting itself down but is letting down our whole society. I thank everyone in the public gallery for coming here to the Chamber and showing your commitment to keeping these buses in public hands. I thank the union movement, especially the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, for its strong support.

The bus privatisation failure in Newcastle is just another arrogant act from a Government that is grossly out of touch. It sold off our buses and the service got worse.

It sold off our electricity network and the reliability got worse. It sold off the Northern Beaches Hospital and the committee has recommended you never privatise a hospital ever again.

These are just some of the items on the list of dodgy, dodgy deals undertaken by this Government as it carries on its privatisation blitz.

Members should not forget the sale of Vales Point Power Station in November 2015 for $1 million; it was later revalued by the new owner at $730 million. Great deal, guys! Privatisation does not work and yet the Government does it over and over and over again. When will it learn? When will it learn that it is here to make things better for the people of New South Wales, not worse? When will it listen?

Dr MARJORIE O’NEILL (Coogee) (16:22:42): I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate. I note that more than five Liberal members of Parliament have not even bothered to turn up to the Chamber and stand here and defend what is happening to their community—

The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The member for Coogee will direct her comments through the Chair.

Dr MARJORIE O’NEILL: Those members are not able to stand here and defend what their Government is doing to the people in their communities who signed this petition.

I stand here and support the thousands and thousands of community members who have turned up and signed our petition. They oppose the privatisation of our great public buses in Sydney.

On 24 October the transport Minister announced the privatisation of regions 7, 8 and 9, which includes the Eastern Suburbs bus services in my electorate. This is despite the fact that the Premier herself said on 20 March 2019 that there would be no further privatisation.

We know this is a lie. She has outright lied to people of New South Wales. When asked about this in question time on 24 October 2019 her response was, “Wakey-wakey, New South Wales—we have been doing it for eight years!” *

What disdain the Premier has for the people of New South Wales. What arrogance.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladys_Berejiklian

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The member for Coogee will direct her comments through the Chair. The member for Newcastle will come to order.

Dr MARJORIE O’NEILL: Since that announcement more than 20,000 people have signed our petition to reverse that decision, many of whom are from my community. The signatures continue to come in. My office has received thousands of emails, letters and phone calls from local residents, small business owners and disability advocacy groups—all furious about losing their buses.

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The member for North Shore will come to order.

Dr MARJORIE O’NEILL: I thank the thousands of community members who have signed this petition and are out there advocating for these public services. They include the Rail, Tram and Bus Union and Unions NSW. I thank them for the great work they have been doing in fighting to save these vital bus services. Many of the members are here today. 

The reason why Labor and the community oppose this decision is because we know when public assets are privatised it always ends up worse for the community—and privatisation of the last remaining public buses will be no different. We know the moment public assets are privatised profits come before peopleshareholders trump passengers. 

*We know this because it is embedded into the Corporations Act. We on this side of the Chamber believe that public services are for the public good and that not all public services exist to make money.*

That is why we have things like cross-subsidisation. I ask that the Treasurer become familiar with that. We know that when services are privatised it always ends up worse for the community. As the member for Newcastle said, Newcastle has seen a 19 per cent reduction in services. *

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The member for Newcastle has had an opportunity to speak.

Dr MARJORIE O’NEILL: In the inner west there has been the removal of 53 bus stops since privatisation and the private service has never once met on‑time running targets. *

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: I call the member for Oatley to order for the first time.

Dr MARJORIE O’NEILL: If the public want further proof about the implications of privatisation they should look to the other side of the House at the members representing the electorates of Drummoyne, Wakehurst and Pittwater. 

I note that the member for Drummoyne in a private member’s statement last week clearly voiced his concerns and articulated all of the problems he and his community are experiencing as a result of the privatisation of ferries.

The Minister for Health and Medical Research, the member for Wakehurst, and the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, the member for Pittwater, are well known for their advocacy of public buses. The member for Wakehurst was quoted in a local newspaper as saying “generally the local bus system and drivers were doing a good job” and that he was “completely opposed to tossing the baby out with the bath water”.

What those Government members and all the Opposition members know is that it will be the local routes, taken by everyday people, that will be really under threat. These are the bus services that take people to the doctors, supermarkets, libraries and hospitals

Privatisation puts at risk these essential, much‑loved and important services. One of the greatest tragedies for us in the east is that, in addition to the implications of privatisation, the Liberals are committed to further cuts to services when the final part of its light rail opens. Documents from Transport for NSW leaked earlier this week show the proposed changes to bus services as a result of the light rail.

The Government plan is to cut 16 bus routes: 302, 314, 317, 373, 376, 377, 393 394, 395, 397, 399, L98, M10, M50, 891 and 893. There is not a person in my electorate who is not impacted by these cuts. Why is the Government doing this? It is doing it to force people onto the light rail—another privatised public transport operator that is failing to meet community expectation and needs—and to streamline region 9 before it sells it off to the highest bidder. 

The eastern suburbs once had the best bus services in New South Wales but the services have been slowly decimated by those ideologues on the other side. I said it when I was made the candidate for Coogee and I will reaffirm it now: I am committed to fight to ensure my community and all communities have access to the public services they need. [Time expired.]

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: I call the member for North Shore to order for the first time. The member for Londonderry has already been called to order for the third time. I warn visitors in the gallery that if they interrupt the debate I will have them removed from the gallery.

The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The Minister for Transport and Roads has the call. He will be heard in silence.

Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE (BegaMinister for Transport and Roads) (16:28:36): I am going to do something unusual as a Liberal Minister and actually thank the Rail, Tram and Bus Union [RTBU] for negotiating some important outcomes for its members.

CAAN: Constance was barely audible. Was the microphone turned off? Was this deliberate? There was no other sound!

Ms Anna Watson: We can’t hear you.

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER:  If members remain quiet they may hear the Minister.

Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: I said I was going to do something unusual and—

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER:  Order! Reset the clock to three minutes.

Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: I just indicated that I am going to do something unusual and actually thank the RTBU for what it has been doing to secure a number of key benefits for drivers including—

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The visitors in the gallery will remain seated. Stop the clock. If the visitors do not wish to sit down they can leave the gallery. The member for Drummoyne will be quiet. If the members of the public do not wish to listen to the debate they can leave the gallery. That is my last warning. Reset the clock to three minutes. The Minister will be heard in silence.

Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: It is fine; I have spoken for 20 seconds. It is all very well to say that this is some sort of ideological debate. With due respect to the member for Kogarah, his buses are served by the Punchbowl Bus Company.

Mr Chris Minns: No, they are not. *

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The member for Kogarah will come to order.

Mr Chris Minns: He is addressing me directly, Madam Speaker.

Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: Through you, Madam Speaker, the member for Kogarah—

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The member for Kogarah is being disorderly.

Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: The point I am making in relation to the union is that it sought a two‑year job guarantee, the protection of travel passes and entitlements and the provision of more drivers.

I point to region 6 where the Government has provided an additional 156 staff and has grown services by 270. Sydney’s transport system is highly taxpayer subsidised. It is not paid for through fares and the money has to come from somewhere.

CAAN: Libs appear to have an inability to understand the concept of ‘public services’ …

CONSTANCE: When you want to electrify the State’s bus fleet and grow services, when you want to grow union membership and increase the number of bus drivers, some calls have to be made. The reality is out of this it is not just three contract regions going out, it is all 13.

If those opposite believe in nationalising the bus network I ask that they say so. In this city 80 per cent of the bus services are already provided by the private sector and 100 per cent of the bus services outside of Sydney are provided by the private sector.

I ask all members to try to work out how we can grow services when in the past six years there has been a 40 per cent increase in the number of people catching buses in this city. No‑one has ever seen that growth before. Even in Newcastle—

Mr Tim Crakanthorp: It has been a failure.

Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: I know your view—

Mr Tim Crakanthorp: It is a fact.

Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: —but if it has been such a failure, why has there been an 18 per cent increase in patronage. For the five years beforehand—

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The member for Port Stephens will come to order.

Mr Clayton Barr: You broke a single trip into four trips and you count it as—

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: I call the member for Cessnock to order for the second time.

Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: For the five years beforehand the bus patronage actually dropped away by 11 per cent.

Ms Kate Washington: You ran it down.

Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: That is interesting because a lot of that patronage drop was under the last government. The union has secured a lot of guarantees. We are going to get world‑class operators. We expect more on‑demand, more services, more drivers. We are not selling the buses or the depots and we will reinvest in bus services in the way that we should.

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The member for Shellharbour will be quiet. Members will be silent.

Mr CHRIS MINNS: In reply: What a bizarre response from the Minister. It needs to be called out for what it is.

His suggestion to the House is that there is exponential growth in the transport sector, therefore we need to privatise it.

Why is every other industrialised city in the world going the exact opposite route? If this were the situation for transport, why are the rail lines not all being privatised? Why is the Government not going through them route by route and getting rid of them?

This is an argument that the transport Minister is making to squeeze into a very narrow argument, that is, he blames bus drivers for his own chaos, ineptitude and mismanagement. This is what he said in the Parliament about bus drivers: “They have not been doing that because the on-time running is lousy, the reliability of the services is poor and, quite frankly, they have been sloppy.”

Sydney Traffic

The RMS has gone public with commute times to help people plan their trips. Image: Getty Images.

Sydney Traffic

Average travel times are getting worse. Image: Getty Images. Source: https://10daily.com.au/news/australia/a190430ivlfg/new-figures-prove-sydneys-roads-are-slower-than-ever-20190430

That is the Minister for Transport and Roads blaming the guys at the end of the line, the people at the coalface. He is not blaming senior public managers—

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The member for Newcastle will come to order.

Mr CHRIS MINNS: —not senior bureaucrats, not Treasury officials and certainly not politicians. He is blaming bus drivers on $57,000 a year. The Minister earns $350,000 a year and the Premier earns $450,000 a year. I think, this is my view, that she is a snob. I will say it. She runs around in a chauffeur‑driven car—

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The member for Terrigal, the member for Goulburn and the member for Holsworthy will come to order. I cannot hear the member for Kogarah.

Mr CHRIS MINNS: —and she blames the poor buggers who are battling Sydney’s traffic day in and day out

The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: I call the member for North Shore to order for the second time.

Mr CHRIS MINNS: —as if it is their fault that they do not have magic buses that jump over crowded intersections. Who is responsible for the chaos and congestion on the roads? The New South Wales Government. Who do they blame? The bus drivers and then they privatise all their jobs. I know those opposite do not care about it. If anyone touched a hair on any of their entitlements they would jump up at a moment’s notice and defend their rights. But when the bus drivers attempt to do it they are called bludgers.

Ms Melanie Gibbons: Point of order—

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: Order! The Clerk will stop the clock.

Ms Melanie Gibbons: The member is addressing those on this side of the House directly and not through you, Madame Deputy Speaker.

Mr CHRIS MINNS: What a devastating point of order!

The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: The member for Kogarah will continue.

Mr CHRIS MINNS: The bottom line is bus drivers deserve better than this Government. They have been sold down the river on a busted ideology and we are fighting and standing up against it. [Time expired.]

[Interruption from gallery]

*The DEPUTY SQUAWKER: I have asked the gallery on a number of occasions to remain silent. The visitors in the public gallery will be removed.

Petition noted.

Image may contain: one or more people and indoor

Photo: Unions NSW … we all stood up and turned our back on Transport Minister, Andrew Constance. He turned his back on commuters and bus drivers with bus privatisation.

SOURCE: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Hansard/Pages/HansardResult.aspx#/docid/HANSARD-1323879322-110231/link/2246

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