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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 5 Hansard (29 May) . . Page.. 1101..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

tax regime, that the water abstraction charge is unconstitutional, and that the utilities charge is an outrageous grab for cash.

You cannot stand up and continue to repeat these criticisms week after week after week and then at the end of the day, as you come into government, say, "Oh, that was just in opposition. We just said that we would abolish the fire levy, we just said that we would adjust the payroll tax, we just said that the water abstraction charge was unconstitutional, and we just said that the utilities charge was a grab for cash, but we never intended to abolish them or change them."That is despite the fact that you have said bluntly that that is what you intend to do. You have agreed to abolish in the order of $100 million worth of taxes, charges and revenue. It is up to $100 million.

Mr Mulcahy: Rubbish!

MR STANHOPE: Stand up today and say that it is not true.

Taxis and hire cars

MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the Minister for Transport. Minister, in consideration of the ACT community's angst with the performance of the taxi and hire car industry in Canberra, what efforts has the ACT government made to assist reform in that industry?

MR HARGREAVES: I thank Mr Gentleman for the question. In 2005-06, the government implemented some of the most significant reforms of the public passenger industry since self-government. These reforms have moved the industry from a focus on protecting taxi and hire car licence values to a healthier consideration of the future of the industry and meeting customer needs.

I turn to hire car reforms. The government's transport reform program commenced in July 2005 with the buyback of hire car licences, providing a much needed boost to the then ailing hire car industry. The method of licensing hire cars changed from private ownership of licences to the government's leasing licences to the people who actually operate the services.

An unlimited number of hire car licences are available for lease from the government at a lease cost of around half what operators were previously charged by licence owners. The number of licensed hire cars has increased by approximately 50 per cent since the changes were made. The government has made the most significant change to the regulation of the hire car industry in over 30 years in a way that balances the needs of taxpayers, consumers and licence holders.

The government has recently agreed to allow hybrid vehicles to operate as hire cars in the ACT. Hybrid vehicle technology uses a conventional petrol or diesel engine supplemented by electric power. This means that the vehicle is able to have a smaller engine, offering better fuel economy and lower vehicle emissions. It is important to ensure that there are not barriers to the public transport sector using green vehicles.

I turn to taxi industry reforms. In February 2006, the government announced its taxi licence release program to ensure that the taxi industry remains viable and responsive

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