17 July 2006

Pat Watch

The Sunday Mail reports that Transport Minister Patrick Conlon, having undertaken to sample the public transport system for which he is responsible, has been spotted riding on a suburban train. He has drawn some criticism for doing so in the school holidays, when patronage is lower, but, as the paper states, has shrugged this off:

A spokesman for Mr Conlon said he saw "no issue" with the Minister taking the train during the school holidays. He said he had travelled to Salisbury with two advisers from his office, one of whom lives in the northern suburbs. He said Mr Conlon would be catching more services over the eight-week parliamentary break, including during the school term. Mr Conlon also caught a bus on Tuesday morning from within his electorate of Elder to the city, he said, but could not specify which service it was.

The Minister is to be commended for sampling some of the services overseen by his department. Yet, if he doesn't know which bus he caught or if, as the Sunday Mail report suggests, he was reluctant to talk to commuters on the train, these are not good signs, especially as he is presiding over a "review" of public transport services, which follows hard on the heels of an almost 10% average fare increase. The review appears to be being carried out without any public consultation, in contrast to the situation in Perth.

The Sunday Mail has set up "Pat Watch", inviting anyone who sees the Minister on a bus, train or tram to email the details to castellor@adv.newsltd.com.au. A good idea, but as well as playing Spot the Minister why doesn't it invite specific comments about the proposed changes (or the rumours thereof) and try to persuade him to set up a consultation process like the Perth one?

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