Keolis Downer Bus Services
I congratulate the member for Wallsend on moving this motion. I know only too well what her community is suffering. The member for Newcastle, the member for Charlestown and the member for Lake Macquarie also have constituents who are suffering as a result of this Government's actions. The notion that Opposition members are exaggerating the difficulties that our constituents are experiencing with the new network is shocking. Government members are burying their heads in the sand. Hundreds of letters have been sent to both Keolis Downer and the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure about the new public transport network, and not acknowledging their concerns is shameful. It is a slur on them personally, not on members of the Opposition. We will cop it; we put up our hands to represent our constituents; we came here to make their lives better. In fact, I think all members do that. However, members opposite are disregarding the concerns of individuals who have taken the time to write to Keolis Downer and to the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, and for the Opposition to say—
Mr Adam Crouch: No, we are the Government.
Ms YASMIN CATLEY: No, the member for Terrigal is a fraud. Members opposite have admitted that they know changes must be made. At least the member for Terrigal had the guts to say that the Government has got it wrong and that it will fix it. However, the member for Oatley said, "What we have done changes the way Newcastle travels." That could not be more accurate. We have longer travel times, connectivity does not exist, and passengers are facing the inconvenience of multiple journeys and shorter operating hours.
I can provide members opposite with examples of the difficulties being experienced. Children living at Swansea Heads who go to the selective school at Broadmeadow must now travel for one hour and 50 minutes, whereas in the past the trip took less than an hour. In respect of connectivity, passengers can no longer catch a bus from Swansea or Swansea Heads anywhere past Belmont, which is the next major town centre. Passengers must transfer to travel to Charlestown. Every second bus leaving Charlestown goes into Newcastle, but passengers on the alternate bus must transfer to get to Newcastle.
Passengers do not go to the wonderful interchange the Government built because the buses do not go there. They travel to the other end of town and have to transfer to another bus at Perkins Street to get to the interchange. That trip involves travelling on four buses. One of the most dangerous aspects of this issue is the reduction in operating hours. I will share with the House an example of the impact of these changes. The police were called to attend an incident involving a drug-affected man on a bus heading north. The police removed him from the bus, but a woman and her two young children were waiting at a bus stop opposite. Bus services in the area ceased for the day at 6.23 p.m. and the police officers were so concerned about the woman and her children that they offered to drive her home. I think that is called cost-shifting. The police are now escorting citizens around our electorates.