Canberra Times . . Page.. 436 ..
I would also point out to you, Mr Speaker, that at the COAG meeting only a few weeks ago, as part of the agreement with the Prime Minister, the Premiers and Chief Ministers of all jurisdictions in Australia agreed, amongst other things, that the deregulation of the taxi industry was one of the things that they would work towards over, as I recall, the next nine years. The Chief Minister might indicate to me whether it is the next nine years, but certainly it is over the next decade or so. So, Mr Speaker, I think it is an appropriate opportunity for this Assembly to take such an agreement seriously, but to do the exploration of the issue very carefully. There is no doubt that it does require a very careful understanding to ensure, for example, that we do not have a situation where the losers in this system will be the taxi drivers themselves. I do not think that any of us would advocate a system which would mean that people are working long hours and getting minimal remuneration. That certainly has been the result of some forms of deregulation in some countries. That is certainly not the intention.
As the Canberra Times pointed out and as I have raised, when we are talking about an investment of a quarter of a million dollars in a taxi plate - when there is $48m- or $50m-odd invested in this Territory in what is basically a false investment, in the sense that it is an unproductive investment - then we ought to be looking at how that money could be used more productively and provide people with more appropriate opportunities. Mr Speaker, I still think the most appropriate committee is the Public Accounts Committee; but on that issue, too, I am open-minded and am happy to negotiate with members to ensure that we get the most appropriate consideration of this issue.
MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (11.06): Mr Speaker, I move the following amendment to Mr Moore's motion:
Omit the words “Public Accounts”, substitute the words “Planning and Environment”.
The amendment is very straightforward. It has the effect of altering the motion so that this reference on the taxi industry would be examined by the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment rather than the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. Mr Speaker, I would ask members to have a look at the terms of reference of those two standing committees as they were recorded in the minutes of the Assembly's meeting of 9 March 1995. I think that, if they do examine the matter, they will see that the Planning and Environment Committee is by far the more relevant place for this matter to be examined.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts has been appointed to examine the accounts of the receipts and expenditure of the Australian Capital Territory; the financial affairs of authorities of the Australian Capital Territory; and all reports of the Auditor-General which have been laid before the Assembly. The taxi industry does not fall into any of those categories. The committee is also asked to report to the Assembly, with such comment as it thinks fit, on any items or matters in those accounts, statements and reports, or any circumstances connected with them, to which the committee is of the opinion that the attention of the Assembly should be directed; to inquire into any question in connection with the public accounts which is referred to it by the Assembly and to report to the Assembly on that question; and to inquire into and report on the implementation of the Public Sector Management Act 1994, and so on.