The debate here today was an opportunity for the transport Minister to admit his mistake and to restore faith for-inner west residents and our local bus drivers. Above all, it was an opportunity for him to stop his sell-off of our inner-west buses. Instead, this Minister has doubled down on a policy that will put our bus drivers' jobs at risk, a policy that will threaten our bus stops, our vital bus routes and critical bus maintenance. The Government has doubled down on its contempt for public transport workers in New South Wales and its contempt for public transport users in the inner west. It is a sham.
Since this Minister announced his plans to sell off Region 6 bus services, the opposition from my constituents has been overwhelming. Residents and commuters supported drivers when they chose to go on strike in May and tens of thousands of them signed petitions against the sell-off. Residents and commuters have made countless calls, and written emails and letters to my office and to many of my inner-west colleagues who are here today. In fact, if there is anything positive to come from the Minister's decision, it has been the outpouring of support for our drivers, such as those in the gallery today. It is clear that inner-west residents love their public bus drivers and rely on those critical services. Bus drivers are the front line of providing quality services, particularly for the elderly, parents, mums and dads with prams, kids travelling to school and teenagers getting to their part‑time jobs. On this side of the House we will always fight for them to continue to deliver those critical services as public services.
Inner-west residents have told me that they are appalled by the fact that the Minister has used his claim of higher customer complaints as his rationale for privatising our bus services. This has been exposed as a complete sham. When compared to the number of trips taken, Region 6 is in line with other regions and, in fact, complaints are lower than for many privately run regions. For years bus drivers pleaded with Transport for NSW to fix the timetables and to invest money in improving on-time running, but they were ignored again and again. We know the Minister has reserved his privatisation plans for Labor- and Greens-held electorates—but not, of course, the Drummoyne electorate. We know that the member for Drummoyne is worried. In fact, he has been polling his constituents, ringing and asking them, because he knows it is not a popular policy. That is why blue ribbon Liberal areas in the north and the east have been spared for now. In fact, Cabinet Ministers such as the member for Pittwater and the member for Wakehurst have fought to keep their pet project, the B-line buses, in public hands.
We know that this is not about improving services; it is all about pure ideology. Bus drivers and commuters across the inner west will never give up their fight to save our public buses.