21 August 2019
Dr MARJORIE O'NEILL (Coogee) (11:12): I make a brief contribution to the second reading debate on the Transport Administration Amendment (RMS Dissolution) Bill 2019. As the member for Kogarah has indicated, the Opposition will not oppose the bill. I hope the bill will ensure a holistic approach to transport and ensure that transport silos do not develop, whether we are talking about buses or trains, or all forms of active transport. I note, though, that the legislation was introduced suddenly—and perhaps quite unexpectedly—while the Government was in the midst of negotiations with unions and key workers in the sector. I am aware that several of the issues presented to the Government have been agreed to, but they remain absent from the legislation at this time. I also note the contributions of members, such as the member for North Shore, who outlined how the services in her area have improved.
Given her contribution, it would be remiss of me if I did not take this opportunity to not talk about the unfortunate cuts to transportation in the Coogee electorate—cuts that continue without community consultation. Cuts like those to the well‑used 378 and 361 bus services, which have run for decades and took community members where they needed to go—hospitals, libraries, their friends and their families. Public transport is such an important part of our communities to ensure that people remain connected to their communities and are not isolated. Changes to the 361 service mean that people who live on Tamarama Marine Drive must now walk up the Tamarama stairs to catch the 360 to get to work. Commuters can catch the new 381, but it takes 20 minutes longer than the previous 361 service. Mr Temporary Speaker Evans, have you ever climbed the Tamarama stairs? It is not easy, let alone in a suit, with an ailment, with small children or in high heels. During the election the Government made a commitment to reinstate the 378 bus service. It has been six months since that announcement, yet we have not heard a whimper from the Government about when it will be reinstated. When we asked, we were told:
A number of service improvements are planned for Sydney as part of the Government's commitment to introduce 14,000 additional weekly services across Sydney, the Illawarra, Hunter and Central Coast over the next four years.
Sometime over the next four years the Government will make good on its commitment. That is great news for the people of Bronte. In addition to bus services in the electorate that have already been cut, we now know that there are many more cuts to come. The proposed changes to bus services as a result of the light rail are yet to be fully released in their entirety; however, reading the close to 700‑page environmental impact statement regarding the light rail, we know that the following buses are potentially on the chopping block: the 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 377, 395, 396, 343, 397, M10, M50, 391, 392, 393, 394, 399 and the L94. Buses aside, let me be clear: I want the light rail to work more than anyone. Because if the Government is spending $3 billion on it, it had better work. Let us also make clear that the Government had to pay out Acciona $576 million because it botched the contract. Again, $3 billion for infrastructure—it had better work. The Government is willing to find $576 million to pay out Acciona because it messed up a contract, but it cannot find $6 million to keep paediatric cardiac services at Sydney Children's Hospital. Again, I really hope the light rail works: I hope that those sacrifices pay off for the Government.
Talking about the coordination of public transport in the electorate of Coogee, it is incredibly important that buses remain as a part of how transportation works within the Eastern Suburbs. The first reason is that buses are currently quicker than the light rail. The current estimated travel time for light rail from Randwick to Circular Quay is 38 minutes on average, while the X73 bus is under 20 minutes on average. The second reason is seating capacity. Bus capacity is 80 per cent sitting and 20 per cent standing, while light rail has 20 per cent sitting and 80 per cent standing. With an ageing population, it is important that we have transportation that is integrated and works for the diverse needs of our community. After attending a number of roundtables with the department, I have been told that the community will be given only four weeks' notice about how its bus services will change. When asked why such a limited time would be given, I have been given the same answer time and time again: People get confused. Silly little people in the Sydney suburbs, aren't they? How little faith this Government has in the people of Sydney.
While the Opposition supports this bill in principle, I reiterate the concern and fear articulated so clearly yesterday by the member for Maroubra that this bill may have a hidden agenda, which is the Government's systematic dumbing down of the public service and the shedding of 20,000 to 30,000 public sector jobs. The fact is that the people of New South Wales are now paying through the nose for the sort of work that skilled and capable public servants once did. These skilled and capable public servants are out there to give frank and fearless advice to the government of the day—advice like not building pet projects.