Road Management Amendment (Bus Stop Delivery Powers) Bill 2016
Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — It is a pleasure to rise today to speak on the Road Management Amendment (Bus Stop Delivery Powers) Bill 2016 and follow the shadow Minister for Public Transport, who actually spent most of his contribution outlining a long list of things that the opposition did not do in government and has left us to fix and fund now that we are in government so that all of Melbourne will have a world-class transport system.
I am a little bit excited to be talking about this. I will not be doing the Bus Stop, but I can assure members that I have a level of excitability about this bill because in the 20 years I have been in public life, either as an elected representative or as a community activist, one of the running sores I have had to deal with is bus stops. Constituents have come into my electorate office about this issue. When I was on council there was an ongoing dispute around who was responsible for establishing bus stops and who would fund them. I know the Municipal Association of Victoria has been working on this issue for a great deal of time and it has caused a great deal of angst between different levels of government and with community members as well.
If most community members could get a bus to come into their area, they would want to have some kind of shelter in which to wait for it, so it is good to see that we are getting on with the job of making sure that those shelters — those bus stops — will be delivered.
I have also had to deal with issues of bus stops being designated outside people’s homes and them not liking it. I am told by Public Transport Victoria (PTV) that this is not a regular complaint and that most people are happy. Indeed most people are happy to get a bus service in their area, but I do understand on occasions that people do not like the fact that they are going to have a bus stop either outside of their business or outside of their home.
I even had a situation where a bus stop was developed and put in an area that was very hard to access for people in wheelchairs or with a physical disability. We actually had to get the bus stop moved so that Julie, a lovely lady, could access this bus stop, so we need to ensure that everybody can access a bus stop before we put it somewhere.
I have also had the ongoing issue with Mr Bell in my electorate of a bus idling out the front of his house rather than in the designated bus stop. I am very pleased to report to the house that after a long period of advocacy from my office I am now working with a government that actually listens to constituents about their concerns and that that problem has gone away. I thank the minister’s office, PTV and Ventura bus lines for making sure that these concerns have finally been dealt with. As you can tell, this has been a long-running sore for me and my constituents, so I am very pleased that we have this bill in the house because it is going to provide some clarity and transparency around this ongoing thorny issue.
I notice in the minister’s second-reading speech that she talks about this being a small bill. Its primary purpose is to give power to Public Transport Victoria to install and maintain bus shelters — and that is another issue that I have had to deal with — making sure that these bus shelters are looked after well and are graffiti free and not leaking on a rainy day, and to conduct related activities.
As the shadow spokesman has already highlighted, an important purpose of this bill is to validate the past actions undertaken by PTV without sufficient authority. I notice that the minister has also addressed this in her second-reading speech.
She goes on to say, and this might be some assurance for the shadow minister, that:
The government regrets the need to introduce this bill. It demonstrates the need to take great care when establishing new entities.
The circumstances that have led to the development of this bill provide a timely reminder —
indeed it is a timely reminder to us all on both sides of the house —
that statutory agencies can only act if statute provides them with sufficient power. Accordingly, agencies need to be vigilant and must ensure they have power at all times to support their activities.
Yes, this bill does highlight the fact that PTV has been pretty busy, but it has been pretty busy doing a few things without the authority that it requires. The bill is a timely and much-needed response. I hope the shadow Minister for Public Transport takes some reassurance from the fact that the minister has put it on the record that this is not an ideal situation but it is a problem that we are, as I provided the words for him, fixing. I think it is fair to point out that most MPs are not comfortable with dealing with the notion of backdating or retrospectivity in legislation. We are all a little bit tentative about those issues, and so we should be. This bill sets it out very clearly and deliberately so there can be no more ambivalence, no more buck-passing and no more turf wars on this issue.
I want to finish my contribution by commenting on the fact that the 2015–16 budget includes a $100 million bus package. As someone who represents a growth area electorate, one of the things I get lobbied on by the interface outer suburban council group is the fact that it wants to see an expansion of bus services. I have a fairly vocal group of whingers on Casey City Council about most issues, but I have to say they are fully supportive of the fact that in this case we are delivering on bus services to the growth areas and making them a priority, because they have been asking for this for some time. The fact is they got nought, zero, nothing from the previous government, so there will be a little bit of catch-up. I also notice that budget paper 3 says:
The government will bring forward new services to be provided by the $100 million bus package election commitment … This will improve bus networks across the state, with new and expanded routes provided two years earlier than previously committed.
That is great news for councils in the outer suburbs, which have been screaming out for bus services to be delivered or expanded, but it really cannot happen soon enough. Hopefully the councils out there will have no reason to complain about this terrific package that the Minister for Public Transport has put together as a result of all the consultations that we have undertaken around the need for an expanded, more responsive and more timely bus service.
That goes to my final point — that is, one of the things that PTV will be emboldened to do with this legislation is actually undertake community consultation. Many MPs have already been involved in this. They have undertaken consultations with the local community about just where buses are needed and exactly where the bus stops should be. Hopefully with this legislation and with the expanded and more comprehensive community consultations that are occurring we will get a better bus service for the community and we will not have to go back and make sure that bus stops are in the right places or that bus services go to the right destinations and stop at the right places.
This is a bill that, as I said, is much needed. It fixes some problems that we have become aware of, problems that needed to be fixed as quickly as possible once we became aware of them. I commend the Minister for Public Transport for taking very quick and appropriate action in bringing what she refers to as a ‘small bill’ to the house. It also, as I said, complements the government’s agenda in providing an expanded, more responsive bus network to all of Melbourne.
There is no doubt that this government’s agenda in the transport area is in response to the community’s growing patronage of bus and train services. We want to encourage people to get on trains and buses. As the Premier is fond of saying, we are building a world-class public transport system for the world’s most livable city. With the commitment to new bus services this government is making sure that that world-class public transport is not just for those who live in the inner city or even the middle suburbs but also for the people of the outer suburbs, who will as a result of these new bus services be able to get off the train, catch a bus and get home earlier so that they can spend time with their families. I commend the bill to the house.