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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 4096..


MRS CROSS (continuing):

area on the off-chance of satisfying an uncertain or possible demand. I do not want to see measures taken that will possibly have an adverse effect on the incomes of the workers in the system-that is, the taxi drivers. Therefore, I will be supporting this bill in principle but will oppose it in parts. I will support the hire car industry and the regulation of that industry but will oppose the rest of this bill related to the taxi industry.

MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and Minister for Arts and Heritage) (6.41), in reply: Mr Speaker, to pick up that last point, this discussion is not about taxi drivers; it is about taxi owners. There are about 1,400 taxi drivers and I would think about 170 or thereabouts taxi owners. That is what all this debate over this period has been about. The major thrust of the government's reforms appears not to be succeeding tonight, if I can count.

Mrs Dunne: It is because it is not a reform bill.

MR WOOD: Well, there is a statement there from people that we need reform, but by hell we are not going to get it and we do not want it. The words do not match the votes. Mrs Dunne said we need structural adjustment. But we are not going to have it; we are not going to do it. We in the government proposed a structural adjustment, and everybody from there around says, "No, we do not want a structural adjustment; we want to protect the existing system." That is what you are saying.

You proposed a buyout for the taxis. We have tried that path, and I am afraid we cannot get it to work. No other jurisdiction-particularly Western Australian, which has paid a deal of attention to it-can get it to work either. After that, you do not want a structural adjustment; you want a soft landing for everybody. In fact, I think a soft landing was the way we were hitting it. This proposal was a relatively gentle one, and I think it was going to have an effect-not rapidly, but over a period-that would solve all the issues for all the players.

What you are saying to us now, as a result of this stuff tonight, is an imperfect outcome. We will have a buyback of the hire car plates, and we will issue licences to hire cars. We can do that. We can do that quite a deal. As a result of this, we are holding to the system we have-which I could have employed in the last three years-of auctioning more plates, in the way we have always done it.

I am not sure that people in the industry and people generally would think that combination is very good, but you are giving the government the sort of authority to do that. So be it. If you will not let us make a gentle adjustment; at least you have opened it up a bit more. As always, the government will be entirely responsible and careful in what it does and give consideration to all the players in the industry.

Ms Tucker goes on about sustainable transport. She did not like the material the government put out, because it did not have light rail in it. I have to say that anybody thinking of light rail out to Gungahlin, or anywhere else in this town, in the next 20 years or so has not got a very clear thought in their head about it. I am afraid light rail, Ms Tucker, is not a system that is going to work. Not at this stage, and not until our city-


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