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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 3 Hansard (30 March) . . Page.. 838..

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo-Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (11. 23): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Road Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2006 allows for the release of non-transferable taxi licences. The bill will also simplify provisions in the Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Act 2001 regarding the accreditation of taxi networks by consolidating the types of taxi networks that can be accredited from two or more to one. Finally, the bill will also transfer enter-and-search powers from the Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Regulation 2002 to the act, and from the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2000 to the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Act 1999.

The government recently announced a taxi licence release program to address a clear need for more taxis on Canberra's roads to improve the level of service received by the public. Up to 40 taxi licences will be released over a two to four-year period, beginning next month, depending on demand for and take-up of the new licences. Unlike previous taxi licence releases, which involved auctions of licences issued for an unlimited term, this release will consist of licences leased for a six-year period from the government. This will allow prospective taxi operators to enter the taxi industry directly, without having to pay the high taxi licence lease fees charged by some licence owners on the open market.

However, the present provisions of the act prevent the government releasing licences that are non-transferable. Due to the urgent need for more taxis, the first 10 licences to be released next month will be transferable. Ultimately, however, non-transferable leased taxi licences are preferable as they prevent individuals exploiting high market-lease fees by subleasing a leased licence to a taxi operator at a profit. The amendment bill presented here gives the government the flexibility to release non-transferable leased taxi licences in the future.

With regard to taxi network accreditation, the act has previously allowed for several kinds of taxi network accreditation to be approved, potentially one for each type of taxi licence. The government needs flexibility to release different types of licences, including different types of restricted taxi licences in future. If different kinds of network accreditations are maintained, networks could refuse the affiliation of operators of a particular type of licence. It is desirable to ensure that a taxi operator may affiliate with his or her choice of taxi network without restriction and that taxi networks are required to offer taxi dispatch services to taxi service operators, regardless of the type of taxi licence held for the vehicles used in the taxi service. This is essential in an environment where a single entity holds all ACT taxi network accreditations.

The bill acts to move enter-and-search powers from the Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Regulation 2002 to the act to satisfy the recommendation of the scrutiny of bills committee report No 6, dated 4 April 2005. This report recommended that such powers not be contained in subordinate legislation but instead be moved to

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