Page 1069 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 30 March 2011

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MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (2.56): Ms Bresnan’s motion is a serious and highly charged issue, that being reliable and dependable transportation for individuals with disabilities. It touches on a fundamental aspect of life that many tend to take for granted, mobility, which has implications on how we live our lives, interact with our communities and make a living.

It is to this effect that the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 states:

People with a disability have a right to obtain goods and use services and facilities in the same way as people without a disability.

This is an issue that we take seriously, and, having spoken to members of the disability community regarding this matter, the general consensus is quite unanimous: under the present government’s watch, service levels are poor, unreliable and untimely, not to mention the fact that there is a perceived lack of understanding by some WAT drivers of the requirements of their passengers.

In fact, we were told recently of a situation whereby a visually impaired member of our community with a seeing eye dog was refused service by a taxi driver because the driver had no “animals on board” policy. It just so happens that seeing eye dogs were not exempt from this. The subsequent outcome of this was that my constituent, with no other transportation alternatives, had to miss his meeting and resorted to making a private booking with a known driver to attend a rescheduled meeting.

This is a scenario that gets played out over and over again in our city. I saw this play out when I hosted a wheelchair-bound work experience student in my office in 2009. I saw firsthand how this student was dependent on a known driver to provide reliable transportation. I saw how this student had to make travel arrangements outside peak travel times due to service availability constraints. The logistics and planning that this very capable young man and his family had to go through to ensure that he made it to work were extraordinary, and being flexible with this individual’s work hours was the least that we could do.

Off the back of the government’s taxi industry review recommending a centralised WAT booking system, Ms Bresnan’s motion as it stands seeks to whitewash the government’s position as it will, in essence, commit this Assembly down the path of a dedicated WAT service in the ACT. It calls on the government to conduct yet another cost analysis or feasibility study of their proposed dedicated WAT model, yet the emphasis of this motion is on agreeing to come up with a plan and a time line for a rollout of this service.

What we have here is a call for a government commissioned report as a fait accompli to the Greens’ agenda to introduce a dedicated WAT service. In other words, regardless of the findings of a cost analysis or feasibility study, in the mind of Ms Bresnan this motion is a done deal.

The price tag for the government’s engagement with PricewaterhouseCoopers as the financial consultants to review the ACT taxi industry cost taxpayers approximately

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