METRO TASMANIA AMENDMENT BILL 2018 (No. 14)
Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I too thank the Leader for the briefing. It was very good and we found out quite a lot about Metro we did not know.
I support this bill in principle and accept that opening up the options for Metro to other services, including ferries and perhaps trains, in the future is sensible because long-term planning is critical. I note the bill removes the restriction on the type of passenger service Metro can provide.
I also accept Metro will establish a demand analysis. However, it is important we have a fair playing field for all operators. While I accept the plan is for Metro to operate a ferry from Bellerive to Hobart, I would be concerned if it then started to compete with private operators on existing routes, given its government assistance. I note that in 2016-17, the Metro loss after tax was $2.12 million.
Mr Valentine - Not loss, cost. Sorry, that is one of my pet hates.
Ms ARMITAGE - That is quite all right. I have many pet hates and many of them are to do with Metro. Many of them come from my local council days and I have had many discussions with Metro about lack of routes and lack of services.
Ms Rattray - And the bus shelters and where they locate them. That was a big one.
Ms ARMITAGE - I have not heard that one.
Ms Rattray - Okay, you were not on the St John Street one.
Ms ARMITAGE - There is more to that, so I will not delve there. While I appreciate it is nothing to do with this bill and this is purely about allowing Metro to operate ferries, I would also like to see a tender process for a service such as Bellerive to Hobart or other services that might be proposed in the future. It is all about a fair playing field, particularly for private enterprise.
There are areas of the state where it is more about the need for transport rather than profitability. I have concerns when private enterprise is seriously disadvantaged by government or council organisations, and we have all seen such situations.
We accept traffic is getting to be a greater problem on our roads and good public transport can certainly assist with that. I have had many issues with Metro over a long time, particularly about the lack of services in some area of Launceston. It is hard to use something that does not exist.
I have been told on many occasions that the service would be increased if people used it more. As I pointed out, if the service is not there, people cannot use it. It is very hard to use a service more if it actually does not exist and that is the case in some areas.
Mr Valentine - Chicken and egg.
Ms ARMITAGE - Yes, it is a chicken and egg problem, and I am not sure how we go about fixing that.
As other members mentioned - and it might have been the member for Windermere from the sidelines - with regard to parking, it needs to be provided at a free or nominal cost. If people are going to use the ferry, they need to be able to park. They do not want a large parking fee and then their ferry cost and then something else. It makes it difficult. I certainly support this Metro Tasmania 'and miscellaneous' amendment bill. Perhaps the -
Mr Valentine - Move an amendment to change the title.
Ms ARMITAGE - I think the title of the bill is misleading because it is about more than Metro. We have had much discussion about this legislation and many issues have been covered. I certainly will support the bill. I am concerned that there will be a fair playing field and I certainly expect the Government will ensure that will be the case.
Having said that, one member mentioned that a ferry on the Tamar might be a cheaper option.
Mr Dean - A ferry on the Tamar could have legs; it could walk.
Ms ARMITAGE - Depending upon the time of the tide.
Mr Valentine - There are ferries on the Tamar now.
Ms ARMITAGE - There are, but not for transporting people. It might be a cheaper option for the Government, rather than proposing the bridge in a 10-year time frame, just to have a ferry going across to the other side of the Tamar. Maybe that is something they can think about.
I support the bill.