ABC (Australia) - - NEWS -

THE BUS AS­SO­CI­A­TION VIC­TO­RIA INC (BusVIC) says the State La­bor Gov­ern­ment has re­neged on a deal it made whilst in Op­po­si­tion to not put bus op­er­a­tor as­sets ‘on the ta­ble’ when ne­go­ti­at­ing new con­tracts.

As part of the cur­rent con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions, Gov­ern­ment is in­sist­ing that op­er­a­tors be obliged to ‘hand over’ vary­ing parts of their fam­ily-owned and run bus busi­ness as­sets to Gov­ern­ment or their nom­i­nee at the end of the new con­tract term, for use there­after by any fu­ture con­tract holder the Gov­ern­ment chooses, says BusVIC ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Chris Lowe.

“What we are do­ing at present is fight­ing a war with the [Andrews] Gov­ern­ment over as­sets own­er­ship,” Lowe stated.

To date, as re­ported in the past is­sue of Aus­tralasianBus&Coach(ABC) mag­a­zine, of the 13 Mel­bourne Metro op­er­a­tors (in­clud­ing Trans­dev), three of them – Ven­tura, CDC Vic­to­ria and Don­ric – have ac­cepted the Gov­ern­ment’s new 10-year con­tracts.


In ex­tracts from a re­cent ABC Ra­dio in­ter­view (15 March, 2018) with Jeroen Weimar, CEO of Pub­lic Trans­port Vic­to­ria - as hosted on www.hand­sof­fouras­ - the pub­lic trans­port author­ity spokesper­son stated:

“I’m very, very clear, as is the Gov­ern­ment, that there are a num­ber of op­tions be­ing put for­ward to in­di­vid­ual bus op­er­a­tors about which con­tract op­tion they want to take. There are op­tions for each op­er­a­tor to pur­sue, ei­ther to main­tain the ex­ist­ing struc­ture and shape of their busi­ness, or if they wish to have a longer-term con­tract there will be some op­tions around how … there’s a han­dover of as­sets at the end of that con­tract, should that even­tu­ate.

“What they are be­ing told is there are three dif­fer­ent con­tract op­tions on the ta­ble, two of them [Pack­age 1 (five-year ten­der), Pack­age 2 (seven-year ten­der)] re­quire no trans­fer of as­sets what­so­ever [Pack­age 3 is the 10-year ten­der].

“All the bus ser­vices in Vic­to­ria are funded en­tirely by the State, so the Vic­to­rian tax­payer is pay­ing for ev­ery sin­gle bus ser­vice up and down across the State in Mel­bourne and else­where...

“In or­der for the State to get the best value for those con­tracts, to get the best pos­si­ble flex­i­bil­ity for de­liv­er­ing bus ser­vices, if they wish to have a very longterm con­tract, a 10-year con­tract, then we’re will­ing to ex­plore a fa­cil­ity to trans­fer those as­sets at the end of that con­tract. If they don’t wish to hand over their as­sets un­der any cir­cum­stances at fair price, they can have a seven-year con­tract or a fiveyear con­tract, or a seven-year con­tract.”

“... Let’s take this on to the Yarra Trams en­vi­ron­ment; so would we ex­pect Ke­o­lis Downer at the end of their con­tract to hold on to those as­sets, to those trams, and to those tracks and to the power sys­tem – and then hold the State to ran­som at the end of the con­tract and say, ‘Well, you can’t bring any­body else in be­cause we’ve got all the as­sets and you now have to ne­go­ti­ate sep­a­rately with us to go get them off you?’”

Lowe says Weimar is mis­in­form­ing the pub­lic, stat­ing cat­e­gor­i­cally that the five­and seven-year con­tracts oblige op­er­a­tors to sell their new ve­hi­cles, non-man­age­rial staff and IP to the state or their nom­i­nee at the end of the term, whereas the 10-year con­tract obliges the op­er­a­tor to sell all ve­hi­cles, all de­pots, non-man­age­rial staff and IP to the state or their nom­i­nee at the end of the term.

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