Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Shepparton bus review


Shepparton bus review

Ms SHEED (Shepparton) (14:21): My question is for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety. Minister, I have been asking for a bus review for the Shepparton district for a very long time. It has been 14 years since a review was last carried out, and it is well overdue. Since then Shepparton and its region have grown significantly, with many new housing estates right throughout the region not connected to bus routes. Some services, such as Kialla to Shepparton, have no services at all on the weekend. There is only one bus route that services the railway station, and with the rising cost of petrol in regional areas, public transport is ever more important. If re-elected in November, will the government commit to undertaking an extensive bus review for the Shepparton district?

Mr CARROLL (Niddrie—Minister for Public Transport, Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Minister for Industry Support and Recovery, Minister for Business Precincts) (14:22): I thank the independent member for Shepparton for her question. It is probably really to me in my capacity as the Minister for Public Transport. The independent member is 100 per cent correct that public transport, rising living costs and the importance of bus services are critically important. I know her background in Shepparton as a family lawyer, as a grassroots campaigner, and with the investment we are making in the V/Line services and the Shepparton line upgrade, it is really important that we continue to make sure that the buses meet the trains and, as she alluded to as well, in building the Education State we make sure that the school students in her community get the bus services they need and deserve.

In relation to her specific question about a bus service review, we are the first government in a very long time to release a full-scale bus plan which includes regional Victoria as well as metropolitan Melbourne. We are also very committed, as part of that bus plan, to do as many service reviews as we possibly can. I know the member next to her, the member for Mildura, has one underway at this very significant time right now. But we are very keen to do what we can. We know that a lot of bus timetables have never been looked at since Sunday trading came in, and we know that that is something we need to do. That is why, with the support of the Treasurer, just the last budget had $109 million in it, and we have now got half a million—

Members interjecting.

Mr CARROLL: I thank the member for her question. I am very keen to work with her on how we can make the improvements she needs for buses. We do know that they return $5 for every dollar invested in the local community, and they are a very important measure, particularly when it does come to cost of living, and I will continue to work with her on the matter.

Ms SHEED (Shepparton) (14:24): Minister, with new VLocity trains due to arrive by the end of the year, our tracks upgraded and increased services about to commence early in the new year, will the government commit to not just a bus review but to actually delivering, in a new government, the bus services that our whole region will need so that it also supports our smaller towns throughout the Shepparton district?

Mr CARROLL (Niddrie—Minister for Public Transport, Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Minister for Industry Support and Recovery, Minister for Business Precincts) (14:24): I thank the independent member for her supplementary. Again, she is very, very on point about the importance of inter-regional connectivity and the role of the buses and the upgrade that is happening to the Shepparton line. We have a lot of good experience from our Regional Rail Revival on this side of the house. The Ballarat line is a classic example of a $500 million upgrade. And then as part of that we worked very hard to make sure all the buses connected for the school students and the locals that live in the suburbs and met all of those new stations that were built as part of the Ballarat upgrade.

As part of the Shepperton line upgrade, the new VLocitys that we are very proud to be putting on that line as part of our $8 billion rolling stock agenda—the biggest rolling stock agenda that this state has ever seen—are made here. The buses are also made here in Dandenong, and that is what we will continue to do. I will continue to work with the independent member and make sure that the needs of her community are met from a public transport perspective.