Jenny Leong speaks in Parliament on the Privatisation of Inner West Buses, on 3 August 2023:
Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (15:09): By leave: It was hard to find the words to seek leave to speak in this debate because of the hypocrisy that I just heard from Opposition members—former Government members—who said, "Please, we want our buses back. Our communities want our buses back." Who destroyed the bus network in New South Wales? They did.
Ms Yasmin Catley: And who was the Parliamentary Secretary for transport?
Ms JENNY LEONG: Indeed. The member for Oatley was then Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure. I cannot believe it. I find it unfathomable to even comprehend the idea that we are now seeing members of the former 12-year Liberal-Nationals Government crying, "Oh my goodness. I have this problem with my local school. The community just wants to be able to catch a bus." Seriously. They caused this disaster by pursuing their privatisation agenda.
The Greens thank the member for Swansea for bringing the motion to the Chamber and acknowledge that the new Minns Labor Government has brought into play a task force to examine the issues. Let us be clear: The task force is necessary to consider the massive challenges ahead. But we must acknowledge absolutely that privatisation has failed and anything other than a commitment from the new Minns Labor Government to bring the buses back into public hands is unacceptable. It is not enough just to critique privatisation. It is important to renationalise and bring services back into public hands. That is absolutely critical. The privatisation agenda delivered ongoing cancellations, constant delays, fewer services, longer travel times and terrible outcomes for workers. Privatising inner west buses was completely disastrous and created dangerous conditions.
After the buses were privatised, my electorate office started receiving phone calls from local people. The back streets between Enmore Road and King Street are very narrow—members might be familiar with them. People were ringing in a panic, thinking someone had stolen a bus because bus drivers were driving down their quiet back streets. The drivers were not adequately trained and did not know the routes so were turning down side streets in the back of Newtown and Enmore. In addition, bus stops were closed. I look forward to the details of when the task force will consult the community about inner west and inner-city bus services. I thank the Minister for Transport and the Parliamentary Secretary for Transport for their commitment to inform us so we ensure our communities engage with that process.
Let us be clear: While it is welcome that the bus task force's remit will include engaging directly with communities and hearing about the impacts of privatisation, it is not enough for this Government simply to talk about the disastrous impacts and deflect the blame and responsibility onto the dudes behind me. We need a commitment to bring our bus network back into public hands, because any public transport system that is run by private operators will be driven by profit motive over and above the interests of passengers—families, communities and young people who use the bus services. The private operators' priorities will always be different. Privatising our bus network means running it for profit instead of providing a quality public transport system that meets the needs of and delivers for our communities.
If we are committed to the idea of creating jobs and having a world-class public transport system in this State, we must recognise the importance of keeping the system public. I cannot stress that enough. I remember many years ago standing with the unions and the Labor Party, which made a commitment to oppose the privatisation of inner west buses. We promise to make sure that the new Labor Government keeps future bus services in public hands.