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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9260

Mr DREYFUS ( Isaacs Deputy Manager of Opposition Business ) ( 10:48 ): I recently conducted a public transport survey in my electorate focusing on the needs of residents in Keysborough and Dandenong South. I am often told about the need for new bus services linking residents and businesses with trains, schools, work, sporting venues and places of worship. With an increase in residential development in these areas and a growth in the number of businesses located in the new industrial estates in the City of Greater Dandenong, the need for connectivity of our transport infrastructure is becoming increasingly important.

The Eastern Transport Coalition in Melbourne is conducting a survey on the need for better buses. While acknowledging that new rail lines in the east are included in Plan Melbourne, they state that these lines remain unfunded and therefore uncommitted. Adding to the backlog, there has been no increase in local bus services.

The Treasurer has cut all federal public transport funding from the budget and claims that poor people do not drive cars, or do not driver as far, and because of that they would not be as hard hit by a rise in fuel excise. But my constituents are making it quite clear to me that because of the lack of public transport infrastructure they are forced to drive their cars every day. The Abbott government's unfair petrol tax will further stretch their ability to fill their tanks and meet the cost of living.

I want to share with the parliament some of the comments made by my constituents. A local business said, 'Many apprentices cannot get to work without being driven by their parents or getting a taxi.' 'Everywhere we want to go we have to drive.' 'I've got a concession card which gives me a discount on buses but not petrol.' 'I'd rather use buses but there aren't any.' 'After school my child takes a bus to Parkmore and from there he has to walk for 20 minutes with little or no footpath to Somerfield because of the lack of access to bus services.' And lastly, 'My children have to be in after-school care until I or my husband finish work to be picked up. If we had buses they could come home and do their homework and relax after a heavy day's work.'

To date, I have received over 450 responses to my survey, all requesting better public transport links with our rail system. I have been working with the City of Greater Dandenong and the state member for Keysborough, the Hon. Martin Pakula, on this issue, but we need government to act. It is time that the Abbott government and its state Liberal counterpart took the need for improved public transport services seriously. The Abbott government's cuts to public transport funding are an insult to those members of our community who live in areas not well serviced by public transport. Its hike in petrol tax is an insult to those who must run a car and who struggle with the cost of this. I will continue to advocate for my community to obtain improved access to public transport.