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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (7 August) . . Page.. 2474 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

Tuggeranong. Rather than reading out all of those-they are a set of tables-I will table them for the interest of members.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR MOORE: For Mr Osborne's information, it was a response to a question I was asked on 20 June. I present the following paper:

ACT Housing-

ACT Housing's Applicant Services Centre-Waiting time for appointments; and

Tuggeranong Area-Waiting times for all types of accommodation-

Answers to questions without notice asked of Mr Moore by Mr Osborne and taken on notice.

Wheelchair accessible taxis

MR RUGENDYKE: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services. Minister, recently I brought to your attention details of an incident involving Canberra Cabs, when a wheelchair passenger was left stranded for an hour and a quarter on a Sunday afternoon while waiting for a wheelchair accessible taxi. At the time there were 11 WATs on the road doing other things, and only one was doing an official wheelchair job. I remind you that criterion 1 of the wheelchair taxi licence application states:

You will ensure that the driver of the wheelchair accessible taxi will always give preference to hiring by a person in a wheelchair, irrespective of how the offer of hire may be made.

Minister, since Canberra Cabs have washed their hands of any responsibility in this area, what investigation and/or action has been taken by the government department that issues these licences in response to the failure of Canberra Cabs to have their drivers honour criterion 1?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, we are aware of the situation that Mr Rugendyke mentions. The whole point of the government's initiatives on wheelchair accessible cabs is that those who need to travel in such a vehicle should get the same level of service as those who do not. That is why we have now got 26 WAT plates out and we are looking at how best to utilise them.

Mr Rugendyke's question is about what we can do. What we have done is speak with the drivers of wheelchair accessible vehicles when we think they have not been meeting their obligations, and in two instances drivers have been fined. But we need to be able to do more. We would like to have codes, which will be part of the legislation I am bringing forward shortly in regard to the taxi network, that would give us even greater powers to revoke licences and put heftier fines on people.

MR RUGENDYKE: I have a supplementary. Minister, it has been suggested in the media by WAT owners that they find it difficult to find drivers who are willing to drive their vehicles. What is the government doing to ensure that WAT licences are being issued to people-of course, at the discount rate-who are committed to delivering the service according to the conditions of the licence?

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