School Bus Contracts

October 19 2011

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. D.W. Ridgway:

1. That a select committee of the Legislative Council be established to inquire into and report upon the department of education's open procurement process for school bus contracts, with particular reference to—

(a) the impact on regional communities through the subsequent deterioration of family business operators if contracts are lost;

(b) the ability of South Australian small operators to be sustained by private contract work and the subsequent impact on South Australia's future market competitiveness;

(c) the inclination of new contractors to support small communities in the same way as previous family bus company contractors;

(d) the sustainability of benchmarks used to determine tender applications;

(e) government subsidies and the concession reimbursement scheme provided to some operators;

(f) the failure to provide certainty for school bus operators whose contracts are yet to expire; and

(g) any other relevant matter.

2. That standing order No. 389 be so far suspended as to enable the chairperson of the committee to have a deliberative vote only.

3. That this council permits the select committee to authorise the disclosure or publication, as it sees fit, of any evidence or documents presented to the committee prior to such evidence being presented to the council.

4. That standing order No. 396 be suspended to enable strangers to be admitted when the select committee is examining witnesses unless the committee otherwise resolves, but they shall be excluded when the committee is deliberating.

 

(Continued from 14 September 2011.)

 The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (21:16): I rise on behalf of the Greens to briefly indicate that we will support the motion of the Hon. David Ridgway into the issue of the South Australian bus operators and the bus contracts allocated recently to Australian Transit Enterprises in bulk and the effect that this will have on regional communities and the implications it has for the future running of these services.

There may be questions as to whether or not there have been incentive payments and so on to attract ATE to South Australia. That may turn out to not necessarily be the best outcome of our state and for our education system in terms of the support that these buses and coaches currently provide to ensure that students who are in rural areas of this state have the best access to education possible. The Greens note that there has been great community interest in this issue.

Certainly the 13,000 signatures sent to the Hon. Robert Brokenshire and tabled on this issue are not to be ignored. It is not a small figure, and it is something that this council should pay great attention to. On behalf of the Hon. Mark Parnell and myself, we were pleased to hear from the President of the Bus and Coach Association and also the executive director on this issue. We think that they have some reasonable concerns that deserve due respect and due notice be taken of them. With that, I commend the motion to the council.

 

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