Page 1243 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 25 March 2009

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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.


The following petition was lodged for presentation, by Ms Bresnan, from 173 residents:

Taxis—petition No 96

To the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory

This petition of certain residents of the Australian Capital Territory draws to the attention of the Assembly that the ACT Wheelchair Accessible Taxi (WAT) service is woefully inadequate.

Your petitioners therefore request the Assembly to ensure that the ACT WAT service is expanded and made reliable, and that the taxi subsidy provision for people living with disability is increased.

The Clerk having announced that the terms of the petition would be recorded in Hansard and a copy referred to the appropriate minister, the petition was received.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella), by leave: In relation to this petition, we believe it is time that the ACT government worked out a long-term solution to the problems with what are commonly known as wheelchair accessible taxis.

We received a very helpful briefing from the ACT government which confirmed many of the perceptions and much of the information that has been provided to us by customers and taxi operators over the past few years. We also appreciate and recognise the efforts by the ACT government to put in place incentives and other processes to try and address the problem.

Essentially, the situation is that too many of our wheelchair accessible taxis are in the hands of one network and a number of drivers who do not demonstrate a commitment to making the service run. This was the result of a decision taken by government a few years ago which was supposed to improve the service. It was a market-based strategy and the strategy has not succeeded.

The operator of the second taxi network in Canberra should be showing a social commitment to this service. If not, there should be a reconsideration of who should be operating the wheelchair accessible taxis in Canberra. It is time now for the ACT government to look at other models, such as going out to tender for a dedicated and directly funded coordinated WAT service, such as exists in South Australia, or perhaps a dedicated network run by a not-for-profit group whose first priority would be providing an acceptable service.

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