August 22, 2018

[3.31 p.m.]

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.


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