Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (3 April) . . Page.. 1322 ..
MR WOOD (continuing):
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
The Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Amendment Bill 2003 provides the regulatory environment for public passenger hire car services in the ACT. The features of the bill are in accordance with the government's response to the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission's review of the future direction of the taxi and hire car industry.
Although the hire car legislation is contained in the Road Transport (General) Act 1999, the Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Act 2001 is the appropriate home for hire car legislation, and therefore the latter act is to be amended to include the new provisions. Together with the provisions for public passenger bus and taxi services already provided in the Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Act 2001, the bill creates a streamlined yet comprehensive legislative framework for all public passenger services.
The bill will strengthen the public safety, service quality and consumer protection elements of hire car service provision. In response to the ICRC review, the government agreed to a number of policy changes in the regulation of taxi and hire car services.
The bill provides for regulation-making powers for the staged release of taxi and hire car perpetual licences by public auctions. The legislative provisions create a stable and controlled release based on a specified formula. The formula will ensure that additional licences are released in response to demand but at a rate that will not impact significantly on licence values in any year.
Provisions previously included in the Road Transport (General) Act 1999 and the Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Act 2001 requiring the minister to determine the maximum numbers of taxi and hire car licences are to be removed.
The bill covers standard hire car services and restricted hire car services. Regulation-making powers provide for subcategories of restricted hire cars to include wedding and school formal services and tourist services. Restricted hire cars will no longer be able to undertake perpetual hire car work.
Small bus operators that were excluded from the definition of a bus under the Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Act 2001 are now provided for under the restricted hire car services subcategory of tourist services. This bill will allow existing operators of boutique tours to continue to operate and others to enter this special market.
Regulatory problems experienced by the Road Transport Authority in effectively identifying and taking action against alleged and reported illegal operators will be addressed, as I indicated earlier, by providing for regulation-making powers for the definition of restricted hire car subcategories. This will create a clear separation between hire cars and restricted hire cars. The definition will ensure transparency of industry areas of operations and will greatly assist in alleviating the concerns of the industry about illegal operators.