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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 3989..

Taxi industry—out-of-order petition

Proposed reference to standing committee

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (3.29): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to move that the petition in relation to the transport industry be referred to the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment for inquiry and report.

Leave granted.

MRS DUNNE: I move:

That the terms of the out-of-order petition be referred to the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment for inquiry and report.

The petition that the minister has tabled today consists of signatures from 280-odd drivers and operators of taxis within the ACT who are concerned about the operation of the taxi industry and the lack of cooperative arrangements between the Department of Territory and Municipal Services, the responsible minister and the taxi industry to resolve problems within the taxi industry. The petition, in quite clear terms, calls on the government to work cooperatively with the taxi industry to help to resolve some of those problems.

When the people who put together the petition—the operators of all of the taxi services: Canberra Cabs, elite and silver service—came to see me yesterday they asked if they tabled a petition where would it go. I said, "Well, the minister could look at it very politely and then choose to do something with it or nothing, or it could be referred to an appropriate committee for inquiry."The operators of taxis—this is not Aerial, this is not the cooperative, this is not Canberra Cabs; these are operators of taxis—said that it is about time, given the present circumstances, that we looked at some inquiry into this aspect of Canberra's public transport industry.

I think it is time. There have been very useful reviews of the taxi industry by previous planning and environment committees which have resulted in quite good outcomes for the taxi industry and I think it would be an opportunity for us to further that progress. There are, without a doubt, problems in the taxi industry and I think it is time we got to the end of the process whereby ministers and members of the government stand back and slag off at people who are trying to earn a living in a very difficult industry and, instead, found a way through public inquiry to a better outcome. So I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for the Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Housing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (3.31): I cannot agree with the motion and I am very happy to explain to the Assembly why that is so. There are a number of reasons.

The first thing is that just towards the end Mrs Dunne insinuated that we have been, or I had been, slagging off at operators in the industry. I emphatically deny that. Indeed, I have had on many occasions an opportunity to congratulate the actual operators and taxi drivers themselves on their forbearance in what is a pretty ordinary system. With

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