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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3442..


MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, how will you fulfil the obligations that you acknowledged in the bushfire operational plan that you mentioned earlier? How will you fulfil the obligations of the bushfire operational plan if firefighters have to respond to Namadgi during this bushfire season?

MR HARGREAVES: We will comply. We will be able to satisfy Mr Smyth's request through the instigation of the bushfire operational plan, which has been approved by the Commissioner of the Emergency Services Authority.

Taxis-services

MR SESELJA: My question is to the Minister for the Territory and Municipal Services. There has been considerable discussion about the introduction of a new taxi network in the ACT. What due diligence has been carried out? Will the due diligence carried out serve as a guarantee of the ongoing, long-term viability of the new network for taxi owners and operators who might join that network?

MR HARGREAVES: I presume Mr Seselja is talking about the application before the department at the moment for the creation of new network. Clearly those conversations with the applicant are not completed at this point. There are many issues which need to be satisfied in the context of accreditation, such as business probity issues.

I remember in 1998 or 1999 the emergence of the yellow taxis system. Mr Smyth was minister at the time. He was very supportive of it and almost approved it. When the probity check on that company was done, I received a copy under the Freedom of Information Act. That copy was merely a letter from a business manager saying that the applicant was a good bloke. There was no reference to financial capability. There was no reference to whether or not the business that he was proposing was able to do it. There is no way in the wide world we are going to go down that track again.

There are probity issues which need to be determined, including whether or not the company has a financial sustainability to be able to push the network forward. We have to determine whether or not they have the capability to run a network at all in the context of the same accreditation standards as Aerial has to satisfy. We have to satisfy ourselves that the vehicles that would be attached to that network can be equipped with the radio systems that we require before those cabs can go on the road. There are a whole range of issues.

I can advise the chamber that those conversations are ticking along quite nicely. Predominantly the standards have been achieved, but I cannot go into the details, nor will I until that process has concluded. It is quite inappropriate to do that. I can say this: I am hopeful that the second network will be up and running, my guess is, just after Christmas. We are aiming at just before Christmas. Being realistic about these things-I would not want to build people's hopes up too much-I am hopeful that we can have some competition in the marketplace shortly after Christmas.


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