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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2640 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

The speech read as follows:

The Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Amendment Bill 2001 (the Amendment Bill) provides the regulatory environment for public passenger taxi services in the ACT. The features of the Amendment Bill are in accordance with the Government's response to the National Competition Policy review of legislation governing the ACT taxi and hire car industries.

Although currently taxi legislation is contained in the Road Transport (General) Act 1999, the Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Act Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 is riow the appropriate place for taxi legislation and therefore the later Act is to be amended to include the new provisions. Together with the provisions for public passenger bus services already provided in the Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Act Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001, a streamlined yet comprehensive legislative framework for public passenger services is created.

The Amendment Bill has been prepared to strengthen the public safety, service quality and consumer protection elements of taxi service provision. In response to the National Competition Policy Review of ACT Taxi and Hire Car legislation, the Government agreed to a number of policy changes in relation to the regulation of taxi and hire car services.

The Bill covers standard taxi services and restricted taxi services (of which wheelchair accessible taxis are the main sub-category). It does not cover hire car services as the Assembly has resolved that there should be no changes to the hire car industry prior to the presentation of the report on the Standing Committee on Planning and Urban Services' inquiry into hire cars.

The Bill brings ACT taxi service legislation more into line with that operating in NSW and will facilitate agreement of cross-border arrangements.

The Amendment Bill introduces an accreditation scheme for all taxi service operators. No operator can provide services without accreditation. To gain and keep accreditation, operators will be required to meet requirements similar to those that apply in other jurisdictions.

A modest fee regime will cover the cost of administration to establish and monitor the accreditation scheme. The fees will be reasonable.

Accredited operators may use licensed taxis only and must be affiliated with an accredited taxi network. The Amendment Bill includes expanded provisions for network accreditation. Network accreditation standards will ensure that the industry maintains high quality services and safety standards.

The legislation significantly increases both operator and network responsibility and accountability for service standards and performance. Networks are obliged to supervise and monitor operators and drivers, and to assist the Road Transport Authority to monitor the network's performance.

New provisions outline the actions that may be taken in relation to an accredited operator, a licence holder or an accredited network should there be a breach of an accreditation or regulatory requirement.

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