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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2136..


MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

legislation preventing another network from starting up a business. That point has been lost on Mr Pratt. I hope I will not have to come back into this place and tell him again.

The issue of increasing the number of taxis actually addresses one of two problems. Firstly, the difficulty for the public of getting hold of a cab certainly can be sheeted home to this voice recognition system not working. Certainly, the Canberra Cabs people are seeking to address that. Let's hope that they will do so fairly soon, because if they do not they will not meet the standards.

The second thing is that plainly there just are not enough taxis on the road. We know that at the airport people are now being asked routinely to go through multihiring. That is just not acceptable. We know that late at night when people are coming out of establishments and doing the right thing by taking a taxi home instead of driving they are having difficulty in acquiring a taxi at a rank. That just says to me that there are not enough cabs on the road. That is something that we can do something about and that is something that this government has done something about. It put 10 licences on the road last April and it has put another 10 on today. If the demand continues like that, there will be further rollouts of taxis on the system.

MR GENTLEMAN: I have a supplementary question. Minister, can you outline other reforms that the government has brought to the local taxi industry?

MR HARGREAVES: The government has undertaken significant reform of the wheelchair-accessible taxi network. That has included increasing the number of these taxis from 14 to 18 over the past 12 months, up from the record low of, I think, about seven which, Mr Speaker, you might recall me advising this house of less than a year ago.

Last year the government also established a wheelchair-accessible taxi reference group to provide me with recommendations on how to improve the services. The government has implemented the group's two main recommendations-that wheelchair hirings be micromanaged by the network to improve efficiency and reduce waiting times and that the government expand the lift fee program, provision for which was made in the last budget.

Earlier this year the government also implemented approved minimum service standards for taxi networks. These include enforceable standards for taxi waiting times and telephone response times. A failure to meet the standards can result in disciplinary action being taken, including the imposing of financial penalties.

Just by way of flagging something for members, I am hoping to receive in the next couple of days the results of the taxi survey which was recently conducted. When I do, I will be releasing them instantly. I am expecting, without being able to pre-empt it, to see a rise in the satisfaction level for wheelchair-accessible taxis. A number of my friends use that service. Anecdotally, the number of complaints seems to have gone down. So I am hoping the service is better. However, we will see whether the standard taxis actually achieve the same result.

Mr Speaker, you might recall my saying in this place at some time previously that over the last couple of years the average satisfaction around Canberra has been at 73 per cent.


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