Page 82                  HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY                 Thursday, 6 February 2020

The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (15:09): My question is to the Minister for Education. Can the minister update the house on the progress of the review of the regional school bus policy? With your leave, sir, and that of the house, I will explain further.
Leave granted.

The Hon. G.G. BROCK: I have been asking questions regarding this issue since September 2018 and on numerous occasions since then. I have been led to believe that the review of the school bus policy was completed in February last year. Here we are, February 2020, and we still haven’t got an answer at this stage.

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER (Morialta—Minister for Education) (15:10): I thank the member for Frome for the question. It’s actually really reassuring to me to get questions from the members for Florey and Frome today. I feel like we haven’t spent as much time together this week as I’m used to. It’s good to be able to have this discussion here that we might have previously had on a Tuesday morning, so I’m grateful for the question.

Regarding the bus review, certainly I would have hoped upon coming to government that we would have had that matter finalised by now. It has not been. It has been certainly a very complex area for the reviewer to manage. This is a review that has been run out of Treasury, with support from my department and support from the Minister for Transport and his department.

It’s important that we get this policy right because, of course, school bus transport policy, once put in place, has far-reaching consequences for many years. It’s very hard to make an adjustment on an ad hoc basis, so we must make sure that we get this right. We must make sure that, if there are additional resources potentially to be included in this, they be applied in a way that will get the best possible outcome for young regional South Australians and not just create adverse or unintended consequences that would put significant budget pressures on the education department and/or the transport department without having a desirable uplift in opportunities and services for regional South Australians.

So, while I certainly take the member’s point and accept the member’s point that it would certainly have been desirable to have the outcome known by now, the fact is that we are considering the report, it having been received reasonably recently. The reviewers took many, many submissions. They had a significant number of written submissions, potentially in excess of what might have been anticipated, and they also took the opportunity to talk in person to a number of the stakeholders who are particularly interested.

We have some of that advice now. I’m not sure if we have received the final final version of the report or if it’s just the draft one that we have, but either way the point is that I would like to see a final answer to that progressed this year so that families, schools and systems can have some clarity on what the rules are going to be going forward. I will certainly be endeavouring to have it in place so that, when we have the information finalised and the government has made those considerations, we will be making announcements. I appreciate the member for Frome’s continued advocacy on behalf of his community and his continued interest in this topic.