Page 3876 - Week 12 - Thursday, 29 October 2015

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Mr Wall: Are the fees the same for both?

MR BARR: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Essential to competition is a level playing field. The government has sought to deregulate and reduce fees to ensure—

Opposition members interjecting—

MADAM SPEAKER: I am sorry, could you sit down please Mr Barr. Stop the clock. I call the opposition to order. Mr Wall, Mr Coe, Mr Hanson and Mrs Jones have all been fairly noisy. So I am collectively calling you to order. Mr Barr.

MR BARR: Thank you, Madam Speaker. The government will be slashing fees associated with licensing for both taxis and hire cars. The annual licence fees, lease fees, for government-owned taxi licences will be halved from $20,000 to $10,000, putting $10,000 back into the pockets of drivers. Then they will be halved again to $5,000, putting more money back to drivers, particularly those who lease directly from the government.

Annual licence fees for hire cars, to go to the interjection of Mr Wall, are reduced from $4,600 to $100, the same as ride-share services. Taxi and hire car operation accreditation fees will be entirely abolished. Training costs and requirements are being reviewed. Red tape is being stripped away from this industry.

Reform in this area has been recommended by every serious economist who has looked at this issue over decades—the Productivity Commission and most recently the Harper review of competition. I might add, in case those opposite have missed the change in approach from their federal colleagues, the new federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison, has encouraged states and territories to implement the Harper competition reforms, one of which was deregulating the taxi industry and supporting ride sharing. (Time expired.)

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, what has been the national and international reaction to these reforms?

MR BARR: I am pleased to advise that the federal Leader of the Opposition and indeed Ed Husic, the federal spokesman in this area, and Andrew Leigh, the federal assistant shadow treasurer, have all come out in support of the ACT government’s approach. It is pleasing to see that across the country and indeed around the world we have received strong endorsement for the agility of the ACT government in responding to the sharing economy, to put in place a policy framework that is supportive of competition and that puts consumers first. And is that not a good thing, Madam Speaker, putting consumers first? This is why the Courier-Mail said:

There’s no reason this could not be a template for the rest of the country. It certainly should not take Queensland another year to understand what the ACT has done and see if the plan can be applied here.

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