Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 7 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 1727..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
If my memory serves me correctly, that resulted in 47 recommendations. The government accepted all 47 recommendations and offered Aerial Consolidated taxis $100,000 to micro-manage the system. It rejected the government's offer of $100,000 for the system and nothing happened. I am accused, somehow, of manufacturing a second taxi network.
There has never been a barrier in this town for another network to set up. It was the choice of the drivers—it was not my choice—and the people who accredited themselves with that network. I am pleased to see two taxi systems in Canberra. They need to do a bit of extra work to get some more taxis on the road; otherwise I will put out more plates. I will. We are now hearing them say, "Oh dear, there are not enough drivers."If they paid them a decent wage they might find that people were more likely to take up that profession.
Mr Smyth asked me a question about a system involving two private companies in a private marketplace. The government's role is only that of regulation; it does not run taxi services and it never has. If the health of the taxi industry in this town is not good it behoves those people in that marketplace to fix their own outcome. They should not expect me to have to fix it for them.
Mr Pratt: Why don't you listen to the taxi industry leaders?
MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Pratt.
MR SMYTH: I ask a supplementary question. Given the minister's answer, I ask again: On what basis and with what advice did you decide to introduce a new taxi operator to the ACT? What contingency planning have you undertaken to respond to the continued problems with the new taxi operator?
MR HARGREAVES: It was not my decision to introduce a new taxi network; it was the decision of Cab Express to become accredited with the RTA. It became accredited with the RTA. I am at a bit of a loss to second-guess Mr Smyth on what he wants us to do by way of a contingency plan. Presumably he wants us to take up a government taxi service. Somehow I do not think we will do that. Earlier Mr Pratt interjected and asked me why I did not talk to taxi industry leaders. He went to the newspapers—
MR SPEAKER: Never mind that. Just deal with Mr Smyth's question.
MR HARGREAVES: This is relevant to Mr Smyth's point because it relates to contingency planning. He stated in the newspapers that I have not spoken with the taxi companies.
Mr Pratt: Correct.
MR HARGREAVES: On the 12th of this month, or thereabouts, I had a meeting in my office with the principal—
Mr Smyth: What date—12 July?