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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 1037..


MR GENTLEMAN: I have a supplementary question. Minister, can you expand on how the allocation of these licences has been received by the rest of the industry?

MR HARGREAVES: I have to say that the system of allocating taxi licences was received with horror by those people who had thought that they were on a gravy train. It was not received with pleasure by the taxi network, because it actually put in a bit more freedom for the operators, but it was received very well by consumer groups. It was received particularly well by people who wanted to get into the industry but could not afford to pay $200,000 or $300,000 to do so.

It was also received very well because it will also be easier for people to exit the industry without incurring such financial loss that they would find themselves bankrupt or would have blown all of their redundancy payments, because it will be possible for people who have a six-year licence to operate that licence for a number of years and, if their circumstances change, to surrender that licence, which could be taken up by someone who was further down the list on the ballot. All in all, the general consumers out there, the general public, are quite pleased with these changes. The new people in the industry are quite happy with them.

I have noticed with respect to another part of the taxi reforms of this government, with respect to wheelchair-accessible taxis, that not enough is being done by the industry to lift its game. The waiting times are far too long. There is no predictability as to the service arriving at all. However, because of the reforms that the Stanhope government has introduced, we have seen 17 WAT operators on the road as opposed to the 8 or 9, or something of that order, at the bottom of the pit of despair in which the people depending on this service found themselves.

All in all, these reforms are positive, but let me send a message loud and clear to the industry that this is not the end of the reforms. This is the beginning of them. If people do not think that I am absolutely determined to levy fines for lack of service delivery, let them test me and then we will find out.

Public service—Shared Services Centre

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Chief Minister. A whole-of-government publication was sent out to all ACT employees on 21 April stating, amongst other things:

Across the ACT Public Service, more than 1,000 staff are engaged in delivering core corporate services, which include human resource management, finance, information technology and communication, procurement and records management.

Further, Chief Minister, you confirmed on 20 April that more than 800 staff would be transferred to the Shared Services Centre. How much will the Shared Services Centre cost to set up? When will the savings start to occur? Will the remaining 200 staff lose their jobs? If not, how many staff will lose jobs under your restructuring proposal?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the member for the question. Unlike the two previous questions from the opposition directed to me, Mrs Dunne has not distorted the numbers in the outrageous way that they did.


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