Page 1736 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 6 June 2006

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Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Order of the day—postponement

Ordered that order of the day No 2 Executive business, be postponed until a later hour.

Road Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2006

Debate resumed from 30 March 2006, on motion by Mr Hargreaves:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (11.21): Mr Speaker, when they tabled this legislation in March, the government advised that the Road Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2006 allows for the lease of non-transferrable taxi licences. The government recently announced a taxi licence release program to address what they say is a clear need for more taxis on Canberra’s roads to improve the level of service received by the public. To that end, the government announced that up to 40 taxi licences would be released over a two to four-year period, depending on demand for, and take-up of, the new licences.

The first 10 licences, which were to be released a month or so ago, were to be transferable. Apparently that leaves these 10 licences open to exploitation by being subleased with operators being charged high market fees for the privilege. However, once this bill is passed as legislation, the remaining 30 licences will be able to be issued as non-transferrable licences. Basically the amendment bill gives the government the flexibility to release non-transferrable leased taxi licences in the future—no bad thing.

While the release of additional taxi licences may assist in some way to improve the level of service provided to the public, by opening up the public transport market to more taxi operators, the opposition believes that the government needs to do a heck of a lot more to address problems within the taxi industry in Canberra.

One of the major complaints that we hear from taxi customers is the failure of taxis to turn up for pick-ups and pre-booked appointments. That is the fundamental concern that the community expresses about existing taxi services in the ACT—the pick-ups and the pre-booked appointments. The failure of taxis to pick up passengers, especially when people need to get to the airport to catch a flight or attend a medical appointment, can be extremely distressing, not to mention the cost of missed flights or appointments.

The provision of additional taxi licences is not necessarily going to fix this problem of taxis failing to turn up because, as I understand it, the problem lies with the fact that, whether or not there has been a pre-booking, it is not compulsory for a taxi driver to accept a job given out by Canberra Cabs, or any other organisation for that matter. That does not negate the need for additional taxi plates and licences. We support the government in this endeavour, but we stress again that we do not think that this initiative by the government will be enough to address the fundamental problem the community now has with the taxi services in this town.

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