Consideration of Urgent Motions
Foot and Mouth Disease
Mr AMERY (Mount Druitt—Minister for Agriculture, and Minister for Land and Water Conservation) [3.33 p.m.]: The best reason why this motion should proceed is that the honourable member for Lachlan asked a question about it today in question time. It is a good opportunity for all honourable members to consider the preparedness of this State for disease. We are also calling on the Federal Government to take part in the exercise to make sure that we are well prepared, should an outbreak of foot and mouth disease ever occur in this country. I ask the House to give this matter priority.
Manly Ferry Services
Mr O'FARRELL (Ku-ring-gai—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [3.34 p.m.]: My motion is urgent because if you are currently a Manly commuter, or if you are a tourist trying to get to Manly, there is less certainty of getting there by ferry than previously. My motion is urgent because, as the honourable member for Manly knows, ferry services between Manly and Circular Quay are an important way by which people in this city get to and from work. My motion is urgent because at present the Minister for Transport cannot guarantee anyone that ferry services between Circular Quay and Manly will be reliable. More importantly, my motion is urgent because the Minister cannot guarantee the users of Manly ferry services that the service is safe.
This Government is spending $100 million on introducing 12 new SuperCats to the Manly-Circular Quay service. My motion is urgent because the Minister for Transport has to stand in this House and explain whether those craft are safe. This matter is urgent because it is already apparent that the so-called SuperCats, that are quickly becoming known as "superduds" across the Manly and northern beaches peninsula, cannot operate in seas of more than two metres. The licence for the SuperCats says to pull into shelter when seas are above two metres. My motion is urgent because yesterday the 8.25 a.m. SuperCat service from Manly wharf hit two waves. The first wave drenched commuters on the outside of the vessel and the second wave broke a perspex windshield and shattered shards of the perspex across the deck.
My motion is urgent because the Minister for Transport has to come into this House and explain where, if that circumstance occurs again, the people who moved from the other decks inward are to go. As the honourable member for Manly knows, the new SuperCats have nowhere for people to hang on. The people who had to move from the outer deck inside had to have pretty good sea legs to continue their journey to Circular Quay. This motion is urgent because not only did those people have to suffer that inconvenience, but when the SuperCat finally arrived at Circular Quay it collided with the wharf. My motion is urgent because this morning more SuperCats, JetCats and Collaroy-type ferries were taken out of service.
Two days ago seven of 17 peak-hour services from Manly to the city were cancelled because of concerns about their operational capacity. On that day, as the honourable member for Manly knows, thousands of people waited for up to one hour for buses to provide replacement services between Manly wharf and the city. My motion is urgent because the Minister for Transport must come into this House to tell commuters and potential users of the service how long that will last. It is difficult enough to make a living in these times without having your job and a livelihood threatened by an unreliable and unsafe transport service. My motion is urgent because the Government has to do three things. Firstly, it has to verify as a matter of urgency and independently of government that SuperCats are suitable to operate between Manly and Circular Quay.
Secondly, the Government has to commit to keeping JetCats in service until such time as SuperCats can be verified as reliable, or a replacement vessel is made available. The Government plans to sell the JetCats. The boss of the ferry division has already said that they are not maintained to the usual standard. If these vessels are not maintained, then the reliability of the Manly to Circular Quay route will go through the floor. Thirdly, the Government must put in place contingency plans to ensure that if Manly ferry services continue to be disrupted, alternative arrangements can be put in place. Manly ferry commuters and tourists using the ferries deserve reliability. People who use the service between Circular Quay and Manly pay premium fares.
This motion is urgent because on 6 April, the honourable member for Bathurst should note, this Government will try to slug those commuters with an 11 per cent fare increase. The single cash fare of the so-called SuperCats will rise to $7. The Minister must come into this Chamber to explain whether that increase will proceed, given that he cannot provide assurances about safety and reliability. Fares on these premium services have increased by 34 per cent under this Government. As the honourable member for Manly knows, FerryTen tickets have increased in cost by 54 per cent under this Government. People are paying through the nose, but they are getting less than premium service. It is about time the Minister for Transport came into this House and explained why that is fair.
Question—That the motion for urgent consideration of the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai be proceeded with—negatived.
Question—That the motion for urgent consideration of the honourable member for Mount Druitt be proceeded with—agreed to.