Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (17 June) . . Page.. 1972 ..
Each year there is a transfer of wealth, estimated at $5.6 million, from taxi users to investors. The prices paid for licences released over the years by government vary from zero-former governments released 80 licences prior to 1974 free of charge-through to $245,000 in 1994. The last auction was held in 1995, where the average price paid was $162,000. In April 1995, the competition principles agreement was signed by all governments. That put this industry on notice that the restrictions that exist on the number of licences would be subject to review. Anyone purchasing a taxi or hire car since that time has done so in the knowledge that the regulatory arrangements were likely to change. (Extension of time granted.)
Slightly less than one-third of the current licence holders obtained their licences before 1990 from the government or through private sales, with an average purchase price estimated to be $75,000. Another one-third of the licence holders purchased their licences during the years 1990 to 1995 at government auctions or privately, on average paying around $200,000. The remaining 78 licence holders all bought licences since 1995 on the private market, with an average price of about $235,000. The government's proposed program will allow these investors to continue to receive reasonable returns on their investment for some years to come, albeit at a reducing rate. This is a reasonable and sensible outcome for all stakeholders.
Mr Speaker, I believe that it is a bad proposal to send this bill to a committee. The taxi and hire car industry has been reviewed extensively over the past few years. I do not believe that you will gain any further information. You will certainly get lots of views, but I do not know that you will get any hard information by going to a committee for report.
I believe that the best option for the ongoing viability of the industry is the reform path contained in this legislation. The fact of the matter is that the vested interests in the taxi and hire industry will not be satisfied unless we continue to keep a very tight cap on the number of licences. These restrictions have resulted in a scarcity of licences, which has in turn led to a significant escalation in their value and lease fees and these costs are being carried by the community.
Mr Speaker and members, the government has long considered this matter. We have worked through a very great number of options. We have refined and developed this option, which has had the tick of approval, if you like, and we have taken the decisions. I think that this matter ought to proceed, that the bill ought to be dealt with, and not be deferred.
MRS DUNNE(6.43): Mr Speaker, I will be brief in closing the debate. Mr Wood was determined to give that speech, irrespective of what was going to happen today. I am sorry, we have heard all of that from Mr Wood and officials in the past. There was nothing new in it. I still have an open mind about this matter, but what we seem to have is what the minister might like to call an industry adjustment scheme. But it is not an industry adjustment scheme; it is an industry pocket money scheme. Over the years, it appears to me, taxi owners are going to get a very paltry amount out of it. That will not solve the problems of the people who derive their livelihood from the taxis and is unlikely to solve the problems of the people who are their customers.
Mrs Burke: Listen to the community.