Rail Privatisation

I acknowledge the presence in the Chamber tonight of our Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. But I rise once again to discuss the poor performance of Andrew Constance, the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, and in doing so I remind him of his key performance indicators [KPIs].

The Minister is responsible for running a public transport system on behalf of the taxpayers and citizens of New South Wales. The public transport system should be affordable, efficient and reliable, and it should be administered in the public interest. Those are the Minister's KPIs, and he is failing each and every one of them.

Members will be aware that I am often on my feet in this place talking about the poor performance of the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. It gives me no pleasure, but it must be done.

People in the Blue Mountains rely upon our public transport system to get to work every day, to get to school and to get to appointments. We suffer long delays almost as a matter of routine, and we put up with overcrowding and timetabling cuts that seem designed to encourage people to abandon public transport and get back into their cars. Every time I speak on these issues, rail staff from within my electorate and beyond reach out to me and provide more and more information and tip-offs about myriad ways in which the Minister and his department are letting down the commuters of New South Wales.

A couple of weeks ago, I received an anonymous bundle of emails, internal memoranda and bulletins that outline the extent of preparations being made to privatise Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink. The New South Wales Liberal Government is fattening this pig for market, and it is the staff on the front line who are being squeezed the hardest to make the organisation look profitable.

Frontline staff are being told to meet KPIs for the checking of tickets and the issuing of infringements—or they risk losing their jobs.

I have a copy of internal documents that stipulate that transit officers must achieve a target of 45 tickets checked per hour. They must also achieve a set "interaction rate"—which is some kind of management jargon for issuing fines—and this must be 0.71.

 

When staff meet or exceed these KPls, they get a pat on the back in the form of a congratulatory email. When they fail to meet these KPls, first, they are named and shamed in a colour-coded email that is sent to all their colleagues, with the underperformers labelled in bright red.

If this does not encourage them to raise more revenue for "the business", they get sent to a formal counselling session with human resources—and presumably a sacking is not far off after that if they continue to perform “poorly”.

All of these KPIs are set and monitored in the context of what management calls "the business plan"—referring to the so-called "business" of public transport.

Instead of focusing on passenger safety, security and comfort, management is forcing staff to shake down as many passengers per hour as possible, looking for something—anything—to book them for. Instead of focusing on providing an efficient, reliable, quality public service, the Government is trying to demonstrate a positive cash flow through "the business".

This is an absolutely appalling way to operate a public transport network and it shows the twisted, toxic priorities of the Berejiklian Government.

I have received a copy of a weekly trend analysis from the Fare Compliance Unit. Under the KPIs section, it says:

“The tickets checked rate continues to hold at 40, with the interaction rate —

for those of us playing along at home, that is the rate of fines issued—

dipping slightly and continuing to hold between 0.6 and 0.65 …”

This means that, on that particular week, the staff did not issue enough fines and did not meet their KPI of 0.71 for issuing fines, despite checking the right number of tickets.

Let me spell this out for you. This result meant that staff were hassled by management because too many passengers did the right thing that week and paid the correct fare. That is an absurd situation, and one which I think most people would find offensive.

So I am putting the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure on notice. We see what the Minister is doing. We know what his endgame is and we will fight back.

We will fight back against his ideological obsession with privatisation. We will stand up for the workers on our railways who are forced to work under duress, forced to drum up fines out of thin air, and forced to hustle law-abiding commuters who are trying to do the right thing.

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