Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3730..
MR HIRD (continuing):
That the report be noted.
Mr Speaker, I am pleased to table this unanimous report. This complex subject deals with people's livelihoods and therefore it is very important that we as a committee get it right.
The committee conducted an exhaustive inquiry and took evidence from nearly all hire car operators as well as from government officials. The committee also held discussions with government officials in Queensland and Northern Territory, and with hire car operators in Darwin. We learnt a great deal.
Our report sets out all of the evidence in a very clear fashion. Our basic conclusion is that the local hire car industry needs a period of stability in which to plan and consolidate its future. We do not consider that deregulation is appropriate at this time. Indeed, the industry is already deregulated, as can be seen from the operation of New South Wales hire cars in our local market. Also, great changes to Comcar arrangements have seriously affected the viability of our local operators and their livelihoods as small business operators within the territory.
However, Mr Speaker, our report states that if a future government decides to go down the path of further deregulation, then there needs to be a fair and equitable transition process involving appropriate compensation to existing licence holders. This has been the experience in other jurisdictions, namely the Northern Territory. From what we saw in the Northern Territory, I would err on the side of caution. The industry up there is not functioning as well as it was before it was deregulated.
Mr Speaker, we have made a number of recommendations which are intended to improve the industry. In an effort to improve the viability of the industry, we recommend that the government liaise with the Commonwealth government in an effort to improve Comcar arrangements; that no new New South Wales licence holders be permitted to operate in the territory at this time; and that hire cars must be permitted to rank at the Canberra Casino.
In an effort to clean up the industry, we recommend that distinctive and clearly visible hire plates be fitted to all hire cars doing hire work; that advertisements for hire car services include the licence and other permit numbers so that everyone can see whom they are dealing with-in other words, if a hire car operator wishes to advertise in the Yellow Pages, he or she will need to indicate these details; and that all vehicles carry appropriate insurance, meet safety standards and inform clients of the cost of hire before travel commences.
We address the issue of restricted hire vehicles in our recommendations 11 and 12. This has been a vexed issue in our inquiry but I believe we have got it right in our recommendations.
I would like to thank all those that contributed to our deliberations. I would particularly like to thank the hire car industry in the ACT, Queanbeyan and the Northern Territory. I would like to thank Minister Smyth for allowing his officers to assist the committee in