Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 3992..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
80-odd thousand calls a month that the taxi service receives—and he wants to ensure that that is the case. But there is no scrutiny of him and his demands and his desires for the transport industry.
This minister, probably more than anybody on that side of the house, knows the problems facing the public transport industry in the ACT. For the most part, to his credit, he is alive to the issues and he does wish to make them better. However, he has been offered an opportunity today to participate in a process that would help to make the taxi industry better for the people of the ACT and John Hargreaves has baulked because he might find out that what he is doing may not be the optimal thing or that what would be optimal might be inconvenient to Mr Hargreaves.
Mr Hargreaves, by his own admission, over a very long period of time has had very strong views about how he thinks a taxi industry should operate in the ACT and he has made it very clear here today that he does not want anyone to express views that are counter to his. The taxi industry, the rank and file people, the small business people, the people who are employed as drivers, the people who own one or two plates, are asking this minister and asking this Assembly to have an inquiry—by the planning and environment committee, the right place for it to go—and to look at the transport issues related to this. But this minister is just saying, "No, I know exactly what we are going to do. I am going to fix it by putting in a new network."
It may fix the system but I am not entirely convinced that that is the case. It will not address the issue that, on a Friday or a Thursday in a sitting week when the federal parliament is sitting and there are one or two conferences on in town, the taxi industry in this town are slammed so hard they cannot meet the demands. But on Sunday morning they cannot get a fare, and the highs and lows of the taxi industry are such that it is extremely difficult for the average driver to earn more than $13 or $14 an hour across the working week.
That is one of the problems that we are encountering: because they are earning so little money, it is very difficult to find drivers and many taxis now sit idle, despite the fact that there are huge licence fees on those taxis. There is the issue of the huge licence fees, and we do not know whether the new 20, 40 or however many this minister will introduce will solve the problem. The industry do not think it will. So, a couple of years into the process of implementing a new taxi system, it is about time that this minister took stock. But he is too arrogant and too vain to take stock and as a result of this the requests of the rank and file members of the taxi industry again are falling on deaf ears.
It is interesting that Mr Gentleman, the great advocate of those involved in the transport industry, is silent on this. Presumably he has had a word to his minister and said, "No, no, no, don't bring it to us. Don't bring it to the planning and environment committee. It's too difficult."It is a shame on the Labor Party that the Labor Party are not interested in good public transport in the ACT.
You can add the failures of this minister over the implementation of changes in the taxi industry to the complete debacle that is now the ACTION timetable. When the Transport Workers Union are so vocal in criticising their mates in the Labor Party over the operation of the ACTION timetable and the ACTION bus service, we have a