State Member for Newcastle, Tim Crakanthorp yesterday stood up for the disabled employees of a Newcastle business who are finding themselves late for work and their wages cut as a result.
In Question Time of Parliament yesterday, Mr Crakanthorp asked the Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance: “Given that Access Industries, an employer of people with a disability has been severely impacted by the new timetable, will you now admit that your privatised bus service has failed the people of the Hunter?”
Constance stuck his head in the sand and failed to come up with any sort of response and was only able to offer a meeting with Mr Crakanthorp to find out more.
Access Industries is a non-government organisation that employs 115 disabled people. Of that workforce, 100 employees have found it harder to get to work since these changes came in. They originally chose the work site due to its proximity to the public transport, close to Hamilton train station and bus services.
Since the changes came into effect, employees have turned up late and lost wages, due to buses that ran late or didn’t come at all. There used to be direct routes but now many employees, with disabilities, are faced with route changes and unexpected circumstances, like a bus not turning up.
One young woman with a disability, has been forced onto a school bus with children due to the bus route she used to take, being cancelled. One older woman will be taking an early retirement at the end of the year due to the massive change in her bus route requiring a substantial walk to her new stop.
The workplace fears winter will only make these changes worse as employees won’t want to walk to their bus routes in the dark.
Mr Crakanthorp’s office has been inundated with complaints about the bus services especially from those with a disability, parents of school students and those in suburbs that have been essentially ‘cut off’ from the network. It has gotten to a point where the Minister’s office has told Mr Crakanthorp that the volume of letters from his office is simply too much and to start sending correspondence by email.
Quotes attributable to Member for Newcastle, Tim Crakanthorp
“These are the most vulnerable members of our community that the Government are letting down. Keolis Downer promised a lot of these people that they would be there to help and it simply isn’t true.”
“A young woman from Access Industries was promised a guide from Keolis Downer to assist her the first two weeks of the new network. The guide turned up one day and then never returned.”
"The Government needs to admit that the public transport privatisation experiment has failed. We need an urgent review into the network that is in chaos.”