Mr David Matters: Thank you Councillor de WIT, thank you LORD MAYOR, thank you Councillors. I am pleased to be here speaking for our union and our bus members about these horrendous changes proposed by TransLink to our city. I think I stand here amongst people, no matter what political party, who care about this city, who want to see these changes brought to a stop, who care about the innocent elderly people being asked to walk uphill, up to 800 metres, to train stations over a kilometre away, to the people of Brisbane who are being asked to change buses more than two to three times, who are being asked to extend their journey time to work.
From TransLink, who openly admit that, instead of demand management for cars, they have introduced demand management for public transport that they have priced public transport out of the reach of poor people, that their policy is what they call an aggressive sphere strategy to reduce our public transport, and to our team of people developing this system, who have developed it with care for this city, have made it work and, despite the efforts of TransLink, have continued the growth in Brisbane City Council.
We have the situation where they are lying to the people of Brisbane about frequent services. They say they are going to increase to Twenty—six, from 19; 32 frequent services already exist if not more. They are attacking the people during the middle of the day where this Council service uses its resources efficiently and effectively by providing services throughout the day and up to 24 hours on some days. They are reducing it back to 11 p.m. They are stopping people from getting to work before 5 o’clock in the morning. They are asking care of elderly people in nursing homes to not be able to have a bus service. They are taking away from the Catholic University, from the sheltered workshops. They are taking away from those people their bus service.
They are taking the word ‘service’ away from buses. We say to you we need to save our services, and we say to you we are going to be with you to stand up for Brisbane. I have always been a patriot of Brisbane. I have always supported our great city. We have a world class public transport system that is under assault. I have some dubiousness about the preparations that are being made to sell that system to some foreign multinational. I hope it is not Stagecoach, because that seems to be a favoured part of the report, that they point to Auckland with their miserable public servants of buses, with their $14 an hour wages to bus drivers, and they call that a community standard. That is not a standard we want in Brisbane.
We need to have the government act and not continue with this TransLink debacle. They have to support the people of Brisbane. When Campbell Newman was elected, he was overwhelmingly elected in Brisbane. The majority of his seats are in Brisbane, and he stood here in this Chamber helping to develop this bus service. Now he stands ahead of a government that proposes to wreck it. He needs to stand up to that government, and he needs to stand with his Liberal National Party colleagues here in the Council who are saying, along with their Labor colleagues, that we all care for Brisbane, no matter what our political differences are. That is important to us. We say again to you: stand up for Brisbane.
This is an assault on the poorest and the most vulnerable in the community. Bus drivers connect with the most poor. When you have recessions, we see the soup kitchens first thing in the morning. We know when people are unemployed. We see the people who are homeless. We see the people who have not enough to eat, and we see the people when they emptied out all the mental institutions that we cared for and provided people to talk to. We talk to the elderly. We are part of the community, and we should be supported.
It is outrageous the way they have victimised Brisbane. They say our population base is 3 million in South-East Queensland, and they run our base for our collection of seats to that level, when we actually have 1 million possible people. That is a false lie in that report. They run our costs against the whole of TransLink costs, when the Brisbane transport system is by far one of the most efficient and effective users of public money. We all know that in here. We know that we have done the job. We know we have had our differences as a union and an employer, but on this issue we don’t have a difference, and we know that we have worked out that we want to continue a bus service in Brisbane.
Some of our members say: ask the Council to take it back off the State Government. We have had enough of what they’re doing. We’ve heard enough of our managers complaining about what TransLink has done to services. I thank you very much. Stand up for Brisbane.
Chairman: Thank you; thank you, Mr Matters. Councillor MATIC, would you like to respond?
Councillor MATIC: Thank you, Madam Chairman. Could I begin by thanking Mr Matters for his attendance today and for addressing the Chamber so eloquently on what is such an important issue for our city. Can I begin, of course, by acknowledging the work that you do on behalf of your members and the way that you work with this Council so well in providing the service that we do to our city as a whole. I would also like to acknowledge the words that you have said today to the Chamber.
As you aware, we had a motion in this Chamber last week on which all sides agreed that what the TransLink review is doing is substantial and will change the nature of bus travel in our city, but will change irrevocably the route system, the way we get around and the ease of the way that people get around this city.
As you are aware, we want to work hand-in-hand moving forward to address this issue, and just like you, the LORD MAYOR and all the Councillors here want to work effectively to convey the message to TransLink and to the minister’s office that the people of Brisbane are not happy, and that we are going to be able to reflect the concerns of all residents back to them and to make sure that they get that message quite clearly.
We are aware that the minister made an announcement this morning on six changes to routes that they had previously altered quite significantly. That is a step in the right direction. But we want to make sure that we continue to sell the message strongly, that there are changes across this city, vital important services just as you mentioned, that affect the elderly, students, people getting to work in their day-to-day activities. They need to know that they are making changes that will completely and utterly change the way those people get around.
So, can I say that this is a vital issue for our city, and we certainly appreciate your efforts in this process. We will continue to make those strong representations to the state until TransLink get it right. As the minister said in an interview earlier this week, TransLink got it wrong.
Well, they got it wrong in a lot of instances across this city, and we want to move forwards making sure that they get it right for the people of Brisbane, so that all the work that you have invested, that we as an Administration have invested over the years, financially and structurally, towards our bus network, building a strong foundation to make it a world—class service, just as you said.
We want to make sure that that is not eroded by those obviously in TransLink who do not understand how our network properly works. We want to make sure that we protect that service for all of Brisbane’s residents now and in the future. Thank you very much for your attendance.