Minister’s ‘stupid’ comment on Gong Shuttle

Transport Minister Andrew Constance claimed in parliament that more people use the Gong Shuttle than the rest of the Illawarra bus network put together. Picture: Mick Tsikas
Transport Minister Andrew Constance claimed in parliament that more people use the Gong Shuttle than the rest of the Illawarra bus network put together. Picture: Mick Tsikas

Transport Minister Andrew Constance has criticised the “stupid” way the Gong Shuttle affects the Illawarra’s bus network.

In parliament on Thursday  Mr Constance attacked Labor’s efforts to save the Gong Shuttle.

“How stupid is this?” Mr Constance said.

“We have a situation where the Gong Shuttle, in one month of this year, had 275,000 passengers. The rest of the bus region in total had 268,000 passengers.

“We have empty buses and a bus service that people cannot get on.”

Mr Constance then reiterated his message to the people of the Illawarra.

“This government has said that they can make a contribution to running that shuttle, just like every other community in the state is paying for their public transport,” Mr Constance said.

Despite planning to cut the shuttle, the Transport Minister showed he did not know when it was introduced.

Mr Constance listed the free shuttles in other regions that Labor brought in just before it lost the 2011 election

He incorrectly stated the Gong Shuttle was one of these – the free service was brought in two years earlier in 2009.

The minister also used his response to attack Labor’s Treasury spokesman and Keira MP Ryan Park.

Mr Constance said the only free shuttle Labor was fighting to retain was “in the shadow Treasurer's patch”.

“I am pretty sure that every other member in this place would like free transport, would they not, Ryan?”

“Look after yourself, mate, while you are shadow Treasurer.​”

Mr Park said he was just doing the job the electorate wanted him to do.

“I make no apologies for fighting as hard as I can to ensure that the community that I represent as the shadow minister and the member for Keira gets a fair deal,” Mr Park said.

“The minister’s completely right if he thinks that I am going to make sure that I prioritise my region. Absolutely I will – that’s what every good local member and every good regional shadow minister or minister should do.”

He also said the high usage figures Mr Constance quoted actually supported the argument to keep the shuttle.

“It shows that people want to use this service,” he said.

“This is a service that is working and this is why we want to keep it the way it is. I wouldn’t be arguing if no one was using this service.”