My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Public Transport, and the action I seek is for the minister to extend and continue the deep cleaning regime of public transport for the foreseeable future. I was concerned to see in today’s budget that additional funding for COVID-19 impacts on the public transport network, which included the additional cleaning, is due to end in June this year.
I would urge the government to continue the cleaning for at least this year and then look to increase the standard of cleaning overall for our public transport network in the long term for a number of reasons. Firstly, with the vaccination rollout taking considerable time and the pandemic still raging globally around the world, the deep cleaning regime will help keep commuters safe and instil confidence in commuters getting back on public transport. In addition to keeping people safe, we generally just need to get people back onto public transport, otherwise we risk a congestion and pollution crisis on our roads. Already road usage is back to near, if not greater than, pre-pandemic levels in some areas, whilst public transport patronage is still lagging.
Continuing on, the cleaning regime with cleaner trains, trams and buses, along with stations and stops, is a key part of making public transport more people friendly and encouraging more people back onto public transport. In Prahran the cleanliness of the tram I occasionally catch to the electorate office is really noticeable, and a return to trams that are on occasion dirty or grimy would have a negative impact on the effort to bring people back onto public transport. Thirdly and finally, it is about jobs and keeping those cleaners employed in the long term. We have all said thanks to our essential workers for their work during the pandemic, in particular our cleaners who worked throughout the pandemic, putting themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe, but we need to demonstrate our thanks to them.
And I think one of the best ways we can demonstrate our thanks to our cleaners is to actually provide secure, long-term, well-paid jobs. So I would urge the government to continue the deep-cleaning regime for public transport for at least this year and well into the foreseeable future.
This was all part of the plan that the Greens put out recently around people-friendly public transport to encourage people back onto public transport. That also included more customer service staff to help people on their journey, to sell them a ticket, and to bring back the famous ‘Met’ as the name for our public transport network but again also to continue on that deep-cleaning regime.