Greens Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong MP has spoken out against the Liberal governments plan to privatise more public bus services.
Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (16:26:17): By leave: I briefly contribute to this debate on behalf of The Greens and my colleague Jamie Parker, who is in the Chamber. We feel particularly passionate about the issue of bus privatisation because as members who represent the communities of the inner west, we know the impact that bus privatisation has had on our communities. It is important to put on record that while we cannot have our gallery packed, right now we can hear noises outside the Chamber. It is important to acknowledge when people are taking direct action outside the Chamber in support of the actions happening in this place. Car horns are blaring and people are shouting and yelling in support of what is happening in this Chamber.
They cannot be in the gallery today because of social distancing rules, but it is important to acknowledge the workers who are outside, who are part of our public transport system and who have been on the front line of taking people where they need to go in the middle of this crisis. Yet once again what we see from the Liberal‑Nationals Government is the most outrageously cruel approach to rewarding those people that have been at the front line of our public service system during the pandemic. What we are seeing is not just an attempt to freeze pay, but also an attempt to completely privatise whole levels of our public service system. Why is that important? It is important because of one simple fact: The people who live in this State want the buses and the trains to get them where they are going on time. They want the number one priority of the bus service that runs in their community to be providing the bus service.
The problem with privatising the system is that the number one priority of any private company running any service is to make profit for those who own the company. The primary purpose is not to run an efficient and effective bus service that is in the best interests of the community members. We saw endless examples in the transition in the inner west. Bus stops were missed because the new drivers were given targets about how they had to run on time, so people just stood at the bus stop as their bus drove past them. Members would well know the small backstreets and lanes of Newtown. In the backstreets others saw buses taking the wrong turn and cruising down the back of Station Street as though it was Enmore Road or King Street.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Blue Mountains to order for the second time.
Ms JENNY LEONG: It is a disaster to see the impact in that community. I know the people driving those buses are trying as hard as they can, but I also know that there are questions about whether there were enough staff to be able to handle the transition and take it over. If we are committed to the idea of creating jobs and having a world-class public transport system in this State, we need to recognise the importance of keeping the system public. We must recognise that if we want to deal with the challenges that face us ahead, we need to do everything we can to create more public jobs and more jobs that are in the interests of serving our community members during this time. That is the best way that we can do that. That is what we should be doing at this time.
I acknowledge the member for Coogee for bringing the petition to the House. I acknowledge many thousands of people who have signed the petition, and many petitions before it, opposing bus privatisation in this State. Once we see an end to this Liberal-Nationals Government, I hope to see the same level of commitment of current members on the Opposition benches to returning our buses into public hands and hope that we do not hide behind the fact that there are existing outsourcing arrangements. I hope that is a future that we have for this State, because public transport is what we need and making sure that we maintain public jobs is crucial.