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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 11 Hansard (30 November) . . Page.. 3488..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

In response to the findings, the government has announced that no additional perpetual hire car licences will be issued at present. However, a further review of taxi and hire car licensing arrangements, community needs and industry viability will be conducted before June 2002. Hire car operators wishing to undertake work in addition to the wedding and school formal market will be able to purchase an annual licence. The cost of the licence is yet to be determined but will be set taking into account the annual lease fees currently paid by existing operators. The restricted hire car vehicle licences will continue to be available for a minimal fee to operators who service the wedding and school formal market. No more variations will be granted to restricted hire vehicles to allow them to work outside this market.

The decisions will ensure that those undertaking hire car services will be able to compete on an equal regulatory cost basis. At the same time, retaining the restricted hire vehicle licence will ensure customers in the wedding and school formal market will continue to receive affordable services.

The investment of current hire car licence holders will be supported by the annual licence fee. The annual licence fee will be in line with that paid by those leasing hire car licences. The annual fee will provide neither an incentive nor a disincentive to existing operators to abandon their current licences.

The loosening of the restriction on the number of hire car licences is overdue. The last hire car licence was issued in 1980, some 20 years ago. Since that time the ACT population has risen from 226,000 to over 311,000. That is an increase of 37 per cent. Also over the last two years the amount of work available from the Commonwealth government has increased with the downsizing of the Comcar fleet.

A detailed government response to the recommendations for the review will be made available as soon as possible. We have no dilemma with what Mr Hargreaves is proposing here, although I think it should be done quickly, so I move the following amendment:

Paragraph (1), add "by 1 February 2001".

MR HIRD (11.26): Speaking as chairman of the Standing Committee on Planning and Urban Services, I welcome Mr Hargreaves' reference to my committee. I can assure members of the house that my committee will undertake a public inquiry which will be extensively advertised through the media. We will seek submissions and invite ladies and gentlemen of the industry to put forward their views at public hearings, as has been our practice with other hearings.

We would ask the minister that his officers not move to alter the current arrangement until my committee presents a report to this place. While I understand the minister's concern and will be supporting his amendment to bring down findings by 1 February, I need to talk to my colleagues on the committee. Bear in mind that we have a heavy work schedule and that at the first opportunity in the February sittings next year we wish to present our report on Gungahlin Drive, a matter which has been around for some time.

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